Friday, 20 March 2015

Thirty Fifty at Leicester

I was very lucky to win two tickets to Thirty Fifty's wine tasting at Maiyango Hotel in Leicester. We have been to a Thirty Fifty wine tasting before - their weekend at Bosworth Hall is amazing, you can read about it here - Bosworth Wine Tasting.

We had not been to Maiyango before but will certainly be visiting again - on arriving we went in to the restaurant which is street level, the lovely barman directed us outside again just along the street to a glass door and advised us to take the lift to the third floor. Although thinking this a little a little strange we did as instructed and were amazed. The hotel have very cleverly allocated the first and second floors as bedrooms and their top floor as their reception area, bar and function rooms, with amazing views over the skyline of Leicester.

The reception/bar area had floor to ceiling patio style doors that lead our to a decked balcony with tables and seating - perfect for summer evenings.

Hotel's photo of their decked balcony

Leicester Cathedral spire
Maiyango's reception and bar
Our tasting host for the evening was Rob Golding whom we had met at Bosworth, and after introduction Rob led us through to Maiyango's function room, with again views over the skyline. The tables were laid with tasting glasses, notes, water glasses and water, and sharing platters. It looked very inviting, professional yet relaxing.

Rob is very good at not only explaining about each wine but his knowledge of the wine industry, human anatomy and the world in general added even more to our evening. Thirty Fifty do make wine tasting fun and as we've experienced before add in a little bit of competitiveness amongst the tables with a quiz and bonus points being available during the evening.

I will be sharing our findings on the wines but if you are looking for some of Rob's knowledge, answers to the quizzes and how to earn bonus points I suggest you book a place on a tasting evening or on their fantastic weekend breaks - Thirty Fifty Wine Tasting Courses.

We enjoyed seven wines in total but two were blind tastings so all I'll say on those is 'Yes' we got the white and were very surprised by the red - it's great fun to test your palette.

So here's our tastings:

We started the evening with Chapel Down English Rose 2013 - a light sparkling wine with a wonderful nose of strawberries. This was followed by a wine we had tasted before at Bosworth, again a light wine but this time a sauvignon blanc from the South of France.

La Serre Sauvignon Blanc Vin de Pays D'OC 2013
After the blind tasting we had two lovely red wines, one from Portugal and one from Califonia. Throughout all the tastings Rob suggested various items from the sharing platter to go with the different wines, we had a beautiful Red Leicester cheese with the Sauvignon Blanc and some gorgeous spicy sausage with the red, as well as olives, bread and ham.

DFJ Vinhos Vega Douro 2011 - Portugal 
Delicato Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 - California
To finish our evening we enjoyed a sweet dessert wine from Chile, it's an usual sweet wine as being a Sauvignon Blanc grape it has flavours of grapefruit which gives expectation to sharp sourness but it is beautifully syrupy and sweet.

La Playa Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013
We had a great time; an amazing venue, great guests, good wines and a knowledgeable host - thank you Thirty Fifty for a wonderful evening.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The 'Best of'

After the success of our 100 Wine Tasting last year the leaders at Nuneaton North Scouts asked if the wine nights could carry on .... no question about it - YES!

So to start this year off we decided to do a 'Best of' tasting. Looking back over the 100 we tried I decided on 20 of the favourites - well 18 actually as I added in a couple of newbies. It was quite tricky as some wines had been donated last year and I wasn't sure of where to buy them. The budget for our 100 challenge was quite tight so I did some careful shopping before and not all wines were still on offer, but after searching supermarket shelves we had our 'Best of' wine night !

'Best of' ready to go 
A slight change as we started off with the rose wine, I have to say not my favourite style of wine but it is amongst the ladies at the tastings. The rose wines were followed by four whites before we took a short break:

Mateus Rose - in it's unmistakable bottle this wine has been a favourite  for many years

Echo Falls White Zinfandel - a slightly sweeter wine which is a firm favourite with the ladies

Oak Leaf Chardonnay - this Californian wine is a smooth easy drinking chardonnay

Hardy's VR Chardonnay - this can always be relied on, served well chilled it is a refreshing wine

Liebfraumilch - another blast from the past but a favourite with those who prefer a sweeter white

Yellow Tails Pinot Grigio - a popular range from Australia, this pinot grigio is bright and crisp

A great selection to start the evening off - light wines that are coming into their own as we move away from enjoying reds on cold cosy winter evenings and start thinking about chilled whites sipped on summer evenings in the garden. 

Last year we also had 100 cheeses (20 at each tasting) but this year we've moved away from cheese. Nachos and dips had everyone moving round to try new flavours, the garlic and onion dip went really well with the Yellow Tails Pinot Grigio; the cheese and chive with the Hardy's VR Chardonnay. 

And so back to tasting:
Rose and White Wines

Cono Sur Viognier - not a usual grape for most but a lovely wine from Chile

McGuigan Classic Semillon Blanc - this Australian wine was the overall favourite white

Touraine Sauvignon Blanc - a dry crisp wine from the Loire Valley in France

Cheverney - another French white, a sauvignon blanc with a touch of chardonnay

Two new wines graced out tasting table - I didn't include these last year but added them for a little fun. The name and label always cause a giggle - the wines were a surprise to some as both the white and red are blends of three grapes, most tasters were used to drinking single grape wines (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, merlot). I think both wines will be drunk again as everyone loved them. 
Quirky Birds
Pork and stuffing batches were served in our next break - very different from cheese and biscuits but very much appreciated. I'm not sure if anyone tried to match a wine to the batches but I enjoyed the Quirky Bird Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier with mine. batches eaten it was time to pour the reds.

Cepa Lebrel Rioja - a deep Spanish wine which we had decanted a few hours earlier.

Hardy's VR Merlot - a regular wine chosen by one of our tasters, always a good pour.

Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon - a deep red wine from Chile, one of the most popular reds

McGuigan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon - this deep fruity red was another wine liked by most

Kiwi Cuvee Pinot Noir - a lovely french wine made by a New Zealander

Cellier des Dauphins Cotes de Rhone - a mellow red with deep undertones

Trivento Malbec - deep ruby red with hints of cherries and chocolate

The Paddock Shiraz - this is the top red in all our tastings, so deep, so smooth

Quirky Bird and the reds
It was another successful wine tasting night finished with pudding, a ginger trifle cake. It was great to revisit some of the wines and taste again firm favourites. All the wines this tasting were from Asda, Lidl, Sainsbury's or Tesco (apart from the french ones from our own cellar). The supermarkets have some great offers at times, it's just a case of knowing which wine you want and keeping an eye out for a good price. 

Our next tasting will be a little different - beer !! Any suggestions or offers of donations will be very much appreciated. 

Next tasting is BEER