Monday, 10 July 2017

Another successful wine tasting

It is nice to start to do normal thing again as my legs mend and I've really enjoyed doing this 'normal' thing - wine tasting ! Well wine tasting hosting actually, Hubby and I arranged another fun evening for the leaders of our Scout Group.

We've been running these events for over 3 years now, always a good evening with good wine, although tastes have changed over time and we're certainly moving up the appreciation scale - definitely at this tasting as each spittoon was empty at the end of the night - a first !

Usually Hubby and I find source wine at good prices from various outlets - these wine tasting evenings are fun events, not intended to raise funds but a chance to get together socially after all the work we do with the youngsters.

The ticket price covers the wine and food pairing and is always below £8 per person. Occasionally (as with this tasting) we manage to find a superb offer - instead of buying individual wines we bought a mixed case from Laithwaites. The offer we had made a cost of £6 each which when you see the wines we tasted is an amazing price.

Unfortunately due to my current immobility (but improving) I didn't get chance to take photos of the wine as we enjoyed each tasting so my images for this blog are labels taken from Laithwaites web pages. I did however take a photo of all the wines as I was writing up the tasting notes.

Laithwaites Classic Dozen Gift 
This was a great mixed case in being twelve different wines, it's hard to use a mixed case if the wines come as pairs. I was also impressed with the selection of countries and producers, a great variety which was interesting when thinking about the tasting order.

I decided to go with the two Sauvignon Blancs first, one from Chile and the other from New Zealand. We tasted the wines one at a time as opposed to in pairs as we have previously, there were no real comparisons in this mixed case so it seemed appropriate to enjoy each wine on its own.

Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc - Chile - 2015 - 12.5%

A light nose with citrus and melon aroma and a hint of summer garden borders.

It had a light sauvignon flavour of kiwi and pear, soft in an Old World way but with good acidity, my favourite of the two Sauvignon Blancs.

As this wine suggested a pairing of seafood we tried it with prawn cocktail snacks - a pairing liked by all.

Duck 'n' Pheasant Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand - 2016 - 12.5%

A much more powerful nose in this New World wine, lots of ripe citrus aromas, very fragrant.

It had plenty of passion fruit in the taste as well as melon and kiwi, a good crisp finish made this the favourite for the chaps, maybe preferred because it was heavier in taste than the first soft  Savignon Blanc.

We had fresh prawns to accompany this wine - they were lost a little due to the more intense wine.

Our next wine was from Three Rivers Chenin Blanc from South Africa. A 2015 vintage of 12.5%.

The light green lime hue in the colour of this wine was very noticeable signalling to it's green apple nose and herby highlights.

It's flavour had a lovely citrus tangy, right on the finish. According to the labeling it is the best vintage in over a century and was certainly a great example of a good South African Chenin Blanc.

A trip to Spain next with Baron de Barbon Rioja Blanco, a 2015 bottle of 13%

A nose full of grapefruit which was quite inviting in a clean crisp way, especially with a touch of lemon and a hint of spice.

It was a creamy wine compared to our previous three but not cloying and well balanced. I found this a very easy drinker which would accompany most light fish or chicken meals.

Angove Bin Ref 256 Chardonnay - Australia - 2015 - 13.5% our strongest white in the selection.

The nose of this chardonnay had a distinctive minerality, bringing to mind hot stones. This was accompanied by aromas of lemon, peaches and tropical fruits.

A lovely smooth flavour with a hint of its oak, a light creaminess with a zingy edge which paired perfectly with Emmental cheese - a very good chardonnay, one of the night's favourites with both the ladies and the chaps.

Our final white was Alessandro Gallici Pinot Grigio from Italy, 2015 vintage with a strength of 12%

Lovely light pear and citrus on the nose, with orchard fruits in the taste. There was a lovely fresh lemony zing to this wine and we all agreed it would be well suited in the garden on a hot summer day.

I paired this with vegetable crisps as it was recommended with roasted Mediterranean roasted vegetables - again perfect in the sun.


So after enjoying our first six wines - and the spittoon being still empty - it was time for our buffet. We now all bring a small selection of food to make a sharing table - leaving myself and Hubby to focus of the wine. 

We had a great selection of cheeses, pork pie, bread, biscuits, crisps, salami and home grown salads - whilst enjoying the buffet everyone also enjoys a top up of their favourite wine from the ones already tasted. On the tasting notes there is space to rate each wine out of 20, this helps when decided a favourite to have with the food. 

The most popular 'top up' was the Angove Chardonnay followed by the Duck 'n' Pheasant Sauvignon Blanc, although the Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc was a close third. 

It is always to get a balance when hosting these events as the ladies like the whites and the chaps like the reds. As I try to present these wines in order of palate progression the reds tend to be last, leaving the men waiting but the ladies having finished their preferred wine. Previously we have tasted in pairs, having wine from the same producers and tasting a white and a red at the same time - you can read about it here 'Wine tasting - pairing it up' 

Our first red was a French Cotes du Rhone, La Poulardiere, 2014, 13%.

One of my favouite wine regions I was looking forward to this, however I think the blue cheese and pork pie had slightly tainted by taste buds as my initial tasting surprisingly left my mouth full of tannins. A second glass later in the evening was certainly smoother.

A traditional blend of Grenache, Syrah this red was full of redcurrants, plums and black pepper both on
the nose and in the mouth.

Moving onto Italy with Collezione di Paolo Chianti - 2015 - 13%

We have tasted Sangiovese grape before but not as a Chianti, everyone loved this red with its blackberries, cherries and hint of floral violets.

The fruit in this wine was very elegant, medium bodied giving a comforting enjoyable finish, a classy bottle of Italian red.

Baron de Bardon Rioja - Spain - 2014 - 13.5% our second wine from this Spanish producer.

The nose of this rioja had the traditional blackberries, strawberries and hint of vanilla,

It's flavour was full of the said fruits with a hint of mocha and more sweet vanilla. An oaky brought out the rioja characteristics in this red.

This was paired with a chorizo Hubby and I bought back from a recent trip to France, although good the 'fort' strength was a little hot.

Acaballo Shiraz Carmenere - Chile - 2015 - 13.5% 

I was very pleased to discover Luis Felipe Edwards produce this wine, I'm a huge fan of their Chilean wine especially their Carmenere.

The bramble aroma was super, not just the fruit but the actual leaves and brambles, a real sense of hedgerow.

The wine was full of blackberries, pepper, a hint of spice and leather but with a smooth richness. It did pair well with the 'fort' chorizo which enhanced its spiciness - a lovely wine.

The Waxed Bat is one of my favourite reds from Laithwaites. A Shiraz, Cabenet Sauvignon, Malbec blend from Argentina - 2016 - 14%

The aroma of dark black fruits, licorice and hint of spice draws you into this wine, it's one of those wines that makes you happy to just sit and sniff and savour.

It is full of rich dark fruit in the mouth, with the kick of sweet licorice enhanced with the juxta kick of spice.

With a bold palate that matches it bold nose it is no wonder it is one of their best sellers. Everyone enjoyed this red, especially paired with mature cheddar cheese.

Our final red was the outstanding wine of the evening The Black Stump, Durif Shiraz - Australia - 2016 - 14%

This is my favourite wine, I love the dark fruit aromas with blackberry dominance, very simillar to the Waxed bat but a smoother nose without spice.

It has such a velvety taste, full of fruit and licorice with dark chocolate adding to it velvety smoothness. A lovely full bodied red with a long finish to enjoy - no wonder at all that it was the one most chaps requested as their top up as the evening drew to a close.


To end our evening we served chilled Pineau de Charentes, a blend of wine and cognac from France. Hubby and I brought it back fro our recent trip. It was the perfect end to a great tasting - served with homemade vanilla cake and fresh strawberries.

A great evening and I will certainly be looking at purchasing a mixed case from Laithwaites and other wine suppliers.

It made an interesting evening for Hubby and I as the wines were in majority new to us too - all in all a very successful evening enjoyed by all. 

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