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This blog site includes news on latest wines, food, events, offers and happenings at artisan & vine. It also includes stories of my wine adventures in and outside the bar, wine facts and wine profiles.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

New world wine tasting

Every Wednesday at artisan&vine we host a themed wine tasting. Last night’s tasting was, rather broadly labelled as, a New World Wine tasting. Here’s one thing about natural wines: it’s rather difficult to find great value new world wines here in the UK (yes – that is a sales invitation for any new world natural wine importers who may be reading).
Last night my friend Mark Neil, of New Generation Wines, was on hand to talk our guests through the five wines on tasting. Of course, before we open to customers at 5pm on a Wednesday, we first conduct an a&v team tasting, so that we can all talk about the wines together (pictured). Here are our notes from yesterday’s 5 wines:

Citrine Chardonnay,Gemtree Vineyards, McLaren Vale, Australia. £11.10 take home.
We all agreed that Chardonnay, particularly new world Chardonnay, gets far too much of a beating these days. This wine is beautifully balanced, has good freshness and lots of high citrus notes. 30% of the grapes used to make this wine spend time in French barriques, the rest are left unoaked for freshness. We thought this was a very flexible wine that could be friendly to a lot of different food dishes.

Viognier 2007, Hans, Marlborough, New Zealand. £19.80 take home.
This is a ridiculously delicious wine. Aromas of dried apricots greet you before the enjoyment of outstanding complexity on the palate. Viognier, unlike Chardonnay, is a really temperamental grape and only leaves growers a small window of time for optimal harvesting. We agreed that Swiss born Hans Herzog got it right with this vintage of Viognier. Lots of tannins and oiliness, which are also characteristic of a good Viognier.

Bloodstone Shiraz 2006, Gemtree Vineyards, McLaren Vale, Australia. £11.90 take home.
We spend quite a lot of time at Gemtree Vineyards from McLaren Vale this Wednesday. It’s a region I really love and after a visit from Eymerik, one of Gemtree’s Directors, a couple of weeks ago, I felt particularly passionate about showing some of his wines. This Shiraz is full of juicy raspberry and red cherry flavours. It’s an extremely approachable Shiraz and one that we often have on our “by the glass” list. There's 3% Viognier included in this primarily Shiraz wine, which gives it some great aromatics.

Uncut Shiraz 2005, Gemtree Vineyards, McLaren Vale, Australia. £15.10 take home.
I really love this dark, black cherry Shiraz. This wine benefits from the indigenous wetland ecosystem and biodynamic treatment that Gemtree are very proud to have made their hallmark. This is a more ‘serious’ Shiraz and wants to be eaten with a good grilled Aussie steak. Dry, tannic, with a strong lingering finish.

Carmenere 2006, Vina von Siebenthal, Aconcagua, Chile. £12.90 take home.
Another Swiss wine maker in the southern hemisphere, this wine is as lush and juicy as you’d hope from a Chilean red. Carmenere, a Bordeaux variety by birth, now only represents around 2% of the planted vineyards in Bordeaux, and has become more synonymous with Chilean wine making. Marinna, our resident Brazilian waitress, loved this wine best; it had all of those jammy blackcurrant flavours of home. This wine isn’t all Carmenere though, there is 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which gives the wine some fantastic green herbaceous notes.

More important than what Team a&v thought is how our guests for the night felt. We had about 25 people join in the wine tasting last night and I think that every wine was a favourite of someone. I toy with the idea of taking tallies on these sorts of things but anecdotal and ‘repeat purchase’ activity suggest that the Viognier and Bloodstone Shiraz were the most popular drinks for the night. I really do love Wednesday nights, it’s great fun to sample a cross section of wines and see the reactions of so many people.

Next Wednesday the wine tasting is themed around “safe bets” for Christmas parties and gifts. We’re going to be showing five wines that have proven mass appeal. Looking forward to it already!

All prices accurate at time of posting.

Picture: Mark Neil joins Paula, Marinna and I in discussing some of our New World Wines.

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