As I’ve said often in this column, the best way to broaden your knowledge and discover new wines is to attend an organised tasting or maybe an in-store tasting, which are often organised in supermarkets or at independent wine merchants.
Last weekend I was part of the Grape Escape in Emsworth, where a group of local wine merchants, as well as some of Hampshire’s finest producers of sparkling wine, came together to showcase more than 40 wines for members of the public to taste in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
It is always fascinating listening to consumers give their thoughts on a wine that you’ve just poured into their glass.
Often the same wine will bring out opposite reactions in two different people who happen to be tasting the wine at the same time.
The world would be a very dull place indeed if we all liked the same thing, and as I said repeatedly over the weekend, if we all enjoyed the same wine, there would only be two in the world – one red, one white!
And that surely is one of the great joys of wine, the choice is almost endless, the variations in terms of different grape varieties or regions of production seems to grow almost by the day, but we don’t necessarily have to enjoy the same style of wine.
As long as the wine is not faulty there isn’t a right or wrong answer, so don’t be afraid to try something new, you never know, you may enjoy it.
So here are a few wines to think about this week.
Sauvignon blanc is now widely associated with New Zealand but how about a sauvignon blanc from Bordeaux, where it’s been planted for many years without quite the fanfare of its Kiwi cousin.
Dourthe “Terroirs d’Exception” Roqueblanche Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Bordeaux (Waitrose £9.49) takes its name from the limestone soil – roqueblanche means white rock – that the vineyards are planted in.
This has a really appealing nose with freshly squeezed lime, some fresh cut grass and richer tropical fruits in the background, the palate shows some minerals and more zesty citrus fruit before a nice crisp, long finish.
This is very modern winemaking and I think very good value, especially compared to many of the intro-level New Zealand sauvignon blancs currently crowding the supermarket shelves.
Great as an aperitif or try match with some goat cheese or fresh crab.
Thistledown Wines Cunning Plan Shiraz 2015, Langhorne Creek (Hermitage Cellars £11.50 but currently on offer at £9.99) is one of those wines that caused much debate over the weekend.
Do we still enjoy Australian shiraz? Personally, I think this wine works really well, and surely if you are a Blackadder fan it has to have a place in your wine rack.
The wine spends 10 months in oak barrels, a small proportion of which are new and the resulting wine has a deep colour and offers dark plum and blackberry fruit, mocha and spice on the nose, followed by more dark fruits, soft tannins and a lovely plushness on the palate without ever becoming over-heavy.
Great value and worked fantastically with a ribeye steak when the weekend was finished.