Andover Wine Friend’s summer party was held in the garden of our house on a warm July evening. This being England we were lucky – if it was 24 hours later it probably would have been raining. As it was it was a perfect evening, warm without being oppressive. And, as I forgot to take any pictures at all, I can resort to garden shots taken earlier this year. First of all, spring:
The theme of the evening was a blind tasting, but in a simple and, hopefully, fun way. People brought a plate of something to eat to share and then there were six wines to taste and indeed drink, each with three possibilities as to its identity. Two people were in a strong position as they had sourced two wines each, but they were very well behaved. I did suggest half way through the evening that if they collaborated, they should get at least four out of six correct!
Wine no. 1 had an excellent aromatic nose, peachy, and then good texture and plenty of substance. All around a good refreshing and quite versatile white. Most plumped for the clue, ‘rather a mild-mannered Riesling’ but in fact, it was the Verdejo grape from the inland Rueda region of Spain. The wine is called k-naia 2009 (Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc, £8.60). It is currently sold out but came for Andover’s exciting new independent wine shop, Grape Expectations.
The second wine was the first of our special imports, brought back from Roussillon in the back of Paul Gumn’s car. In recent decades the south of France has seen an explosion of inward investment and excitement with lots of new ventures. One of these is run by a couple of South Africans who cleverly exploit the seasonal difference to get two harvests a year, one back home in South Africa and one at Domaine Grier in France. This blend is Maccabeu (think white Rioja) and Viognier, to make an impressively subtle wine, nice white flower and fruit aromas, medium in weight, some intriguing herby notes. And the good news is that most people guessed this one right! Not widely available in the UK but speak to Paul nicely …
Summer in the garden (1):
The two rosés caused quite a lot of debate. The first, a sparkling wine (nearly everyone spotted that), was ‘pale and interesting’ as one of the clues had it, in fact, a pale salmon pink; so on those grounds, it could have been from Provence. In fact, it was Grenache-based, again from the far south of France, Cremant de Limoux and retails there at €10. There was a very even three-way split here between this being Provencal rosé, English Pinot Noir or Perle de Rosee, Domaine de Fourn, Robert. The wine is 50% Chardonnay, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Mauzac with the colour coming from a mere 10% of Pinot Noir. This had decent fruit but to my taste, there was something hard or slightly metallic about it.
The second rosé, a still wine, was a vivid pale red colour, with a fruity nose with something like bubblegum about it, very moreish. It is really unusual, being a Nebbiolo based wine (think Barolo or Barbaresco) and is made by the de Marchi family of Isole e Olena fame in Chianti, but back in their Piemonte homeland. Called Rosa del rosa, from Proprieta it cost £12.50 from Caviste. It obviously was completely unfamiliar as by far the most votes were for the joke clue – a white wine with Ribena added. Well, it was the fourth wine people had tasted.
Finally the two reds. The first I had to try for its sheer novelty value – Australian Sangiovese (far from its Tuscan home) with some Shiraz. It had brilliant dense fruit, somewhere between strawberry and plum, good acidity, very good but quite unlike any Sangiovese I have tasted. The majority voted for this, from a choice of three, closely followed by Cabernet, perhaps going on the fairly dense colour. The Squid’s Fist 2009, is an interesting wine, sourced by Grape Expectations (£14).
The last lap was rather paler wine, more elegant. Faced with a choice of a single commune Beaujolais, quality Valpolicella or New Zealand Pinot Noir, not many spotted the Pinot from Daniel Schuster, Two Vineyards Pinot Noir, 2006, £16, from Caviste. Pale ruby in colour, it had a good red fruit and farmyard smell, a bit of shirbety wood (some noticed the ageing), strawberry fruit and a nice bitter twist to finish.
All in all a great way to spend a summer evening – excellent food shared between friends, interesting, sometimes off-beat wines, a good way for a wine club to go into its summer break. I might even remember to take some pictures next time.