Emsworth wine tasting for Havant Hockey Club | Alistair Gibson

The best way to experience new wine is to taste before you buy, preferably with someone who can tell you the story of where it comes from and how it was made.

Crémant de Loire Brut NV, Langlois-Chateau
Crémant de Loire Brut NV, Langlois-Chateau

With Christmas in mind, here is a chance to taste some new wines.

November 21 is the annual Festive Wine Fair at the Brookfield Hotel at Emsworth. Tickets are £5 each and are available from The Brookfield Hotel on 01243 373363.

For that small fee, you get to taste more than 50 wines with their agents in the UK.

Iona ‘Sophie’ Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Some stellar producers will be opening their bottles, from some of the UK’s finest fizz from Hampshire, to Argentina’s high-altitude vineyards.

Throw in some brilliant gin and some seasonal port and I can’t think of a better start to the Christmas festivities. And all the proceeds go to Havant Hockey Club’s youth development programme.

Here are just a few highlights to tempt your taste buds, starting with something fizzy.

Crémant de Loire Brut NV, Langlois-Chateau (Hermitage Cellars £14.35 but on the evening buy six bottles and receive an extra one free) is produced by a company owned by Bollinger Champagne, so there is no doubting the pedigree.

Viña Cobos “Felino” Malbec 2018, Mendoza

It has a constant stream of delicate bubbles, with a bouquet offering orchard fruit and citrus notes before a lively, well-balanced mouth-feel.

The Loire offers some of the best value sparkling wines in France and this is the perfect festive season fizz with enough complexity to make it interesting.

Iona ‘Sophie’ Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Cape South Coast (Hermitage Cellars £10.35 on offer on the evening at £7.35) is the second wine from Iona Estate, which produces one of South Africa’s best sauvignon blancs.

Owner Andrew Gunn has become a close friend over the years and I know they put as much effort into this wine as the main estate sauvignon blanc.

In essence this is a very fresh, dry white with some tropical fruits, lime and crisp green apple on the nose with some zesty acidity and a little minerality on the palate.

It’s a real crowd-pleaser as an aperitif but also a good partner with Asian-style dishes or simple fresh seafood.

Viña Cobos was founded in Mendoza by legendary Napa Valley winemaker Paul Hobbs more than 20 years ago and is now recognised for producing some of Argentina’s top tier malbecs.

Viña Cobos ‘Felino’ Malbec 2018, Mendoza (Hermitage Cellars £13.25 on offer on the evening at £11.25) is a great starting point into the range.

Aged in American oak barrels for eight months, it is very deep in colour with dark berry fruits, liquorice and Asian spice on the nose, followed by more dark fruit as well as some raspberry and a touch of graphite on the palate along with some ripe tannins and a long, focused finish. This would be perfect with some venison or a beef Wellington over the festive period.