We actually tasted 19 wines on the night, although I’m not sure that we all tasted every one, all part of the fun.
The main tasting wines were, in order of serving:
- 2016 Kumeu Village Chardonnay, New Zealand (Wine Society £9.95) – pleasant quaffer with firm citrus on the palate, a mere hint of oak and a slight smoky touch reminiscent of a Pouilly Fuisse but a great deal cheaper.
- 2016 Undurruga Cauquenes Estate Viognier-Roussanne-Marsanne, Maule , Chile (Wine Society £7.50) – quite a big wine with richness and structure, deep honeyed fruit and considerable mouthfill; not subtle but a lot of fun and amazing value.
- Yalumba Organic Viognier (Waitrose £8.99) after the Undurruga, this seemed almost one-dimensional. A very pretty wine with typical but restrained Viognier character, fragrant and peachy. Made especially for Waitrose, again very good value.
- 2014 Setze Gallets Garnacha-Monastrell, Valencia, Spain (Wine Society £7.50) -a pleasant light red, surprising given the two big grapes in the blend. Cherry and a touch of deeper red fruit on the nose and cherries and smooth tannins on the palate. Pleasant but unremarkable.
- 2015 Paolo Leo Primitivo di Manduria (Waitrose £10.99) – lovely full-bodied red, dark berry fruits and just a hint of spice on the nose and deep currants and berries on the palate â€“ not a lot of tannic grip typical of Primitivo but enough to hold the wine together. A very enjoyable glass indeed.
- 2015 Chateau Tour Chapoux Bordeaux Superieur (Waitrose £8.99 down to £6.74 at July 2017) Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend with Merlot dominating, subtle oak and cassis fruit on the palate, a very pleasant claret for the money.
We then had the opportunity to taste the following:
- 2006 Chateau Maris Grenache – rich and concentrated Grenache with that characteristic sweetish finish; red fruit and mild tannins on the palate, Waitrose have later vintages.
- 2012 Beringer Stone Cellars Zinfandel – I did not taste this wine on the night; last time I did it showed typical fruit-driven and spicy characteristics that you would expect from a Californian Zinfandel – sadly no longer available in the UK
- 2015 Domaine Couly-Dutheil Rene Couly Rose, Chinon – wonderful full-bodied rose from Cabernet Franc – when first tasted in the Loire, though it was one of the best roses I had ever tasted and most people agreed on the night! Very dark with bags of fruit and great structure for a Rose. Had to be imported specially. Contact John if you are interested in getting some of this.
- 2000 Chateau De Malle, Sauternes AC – lovely fully mature Semillon with notes of honeysuckle, and a hint of caramelised oranges on the palate, sweet spice and pineapple on the nose, very rich as it should be well worth the 16 years in the bottle – no longer available though.
- 2014 Masciarelli Tenuta Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – Again, I did not taste this on the night; Paul Boyle recommended this wine and noted its red cherry nose and touches of tobacco and liquorice under the typical damson fruitiness (2015 vintage at Majestic, £9.99)
- 2013 Vinalba Reservado Chardonnay – another good-value lightly-oaked chardonnay in the Burgundian style with rich white fruits and tingling acidity – lovely food wine. 2014 vintage available at Majestic Calais (£4.00, that’s what duty does!) and possibly other stores ca. £12.00.
- 1998 Bodegas Marques d’Murrieta Ygay Gran Reserva Rioja Blanco – A marmite wine, closer to Fino sherry than a typical white – rich nutty flavours, touch of vanilla and zingy acidity to balance it. You either love or hate this style, and this bottle probably just going over its peak. Available in Taiwan ca. £39, n/a anywhere else.
- 2005 Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz – Typically large Aussie take on Shiraz/Syrah, very rich and alcoholic but amazingly smooth and in balance, black fruits, spice, liquorice and gentle oak on the nose and palate, would appear to be at its peak right now. A Mollydooker is a southpaw boxer, by the way. N/a in the UK but 2013 vintage is £30 (Bentleys, Ludlow)
- 2004 Kaesler Old Vines Shiraz – so different from the Boxer; much more masculine style, very rich, hints of vanilla form 100% French Oak but the mineral and tarry notes make it less accessible, almost austere. Very long and concentrated on the palate, this bottle could do with 24 hours open to the air (£17- £21, Cellar Link, Z&B Vintners)
- 2009 Domaine Filliatreau Â Saumur Â Champigny – 100% Cabernet Franc from one of the best-known Loire producers and a revelation on the night. Previous bottles I have tasted were a bit variable but this had all those lovely bright red fruit flavours, soft tannins and appetising acidity, and that indefinable delicious green note that you only get with Cabernet Franc. If anyone wants some, the 2015 vintage is available at Le Bon Vin at £13.50/bottle and free carriage if we order 7 bottles or more – let me know please.
- 2010 Wine Society Rupertsberg Sylvaner/Riesling, Pfalz, Germany – pleasant example of a blend of a less known grape (60%) with the familiar Riesling , just a shade off bone dry and good as an aperitif. 2016 vintage from Wine Society at £6.95.
- 2013 Iwayini Syrah/Mourvedre – made at Alheit Vineyard, Hermanus from grapes we selected, most of you have tasted this before – it still seems to be improving and was enjoyed on the night, quite a light take on these two big varieties. I still have plenty!
- 2009 Henri Boulay L’Aurore Chardonnay, Macon – a shame, I didn’t get to taste this or talk to anyone who did so cannot comment – it all went though!