The Wine Society recently (Mon. 11th Feb) held a tasting at The Burlington Hotel in Birmingham. Entitled ‘Six of the Best’, it had the school discipline overtones that Michael Gove would have approved of – so Richard and I, exercise books stuffed down our trousers, attended.
The swishing six grape varieties featured were Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay for the whites and Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for the reds. A class of better behaved pupils you’d have difficulty in finding. Potentially, there would prizes for all.
But the three Sauvignons, Ch. Reynon (Bord), Brunia (SA) and Sancerre, were all disappointingly D graders and left us still searching for good Sancerre. The £27 Chavignol 2007 offering seemed to be lacking fruit. The Rieslings, a WS Exhibition, an Eden Valley and Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese were an improvement. The Aussie wine had the typical behaviour characteristics of a forward nose, racy freshness and a gravelly finish but was a touch hard at the end. This was a great contrast to the raisiny fullness of the Moselle. I thought the German wine had a slight spreckle. It suited my palate but Richard did not like the sweetness. Definitely good B streamers for me. The Chardonnays (St Veran Vernay, a Sonoma and Meursault) were top of the white class, by virtue of the Meursault Meix SLC, Fichet 2007. Mind you, at £37 per bottle, I would expect graduate material. It had a deep nose, was savoury and a lovely weight in the mouth whilst retaining some refreshing high notes. An A* grade.
The red class started rather poorly. A Sancerre Pinot Noir, a Martinborough PN and a Marsannay all struggled to make the grade. My notes read “Nothing to recommend it”, “typical NZ, pleasant” and “Great Pinot nose but rather thin”, respectively. Could do better, WS. The Cabernets were a definite step up. A 2006 Medoc (Ch. Patache d’Aux) was still a bit tight but the De Martino Legado Reserva 2010 Chilean offering had an attractive sappy nose and an excellent balance of acidity and fruit on the palate. The minty nose of a Weinart 2005 from Argentina, plus its liquorice, yet fruity, palate was good value at £9 per bottle. Most ticks from me were awarded to the Syrahs – an Ardeche 2011 (great nose, will develop), a Aussie d’Arenberg 2010 and a Cornas Thierry Armande (2001). The latter was a really well made wine – grassy, fresh, plenty of vigour even now and will continue to improve – university material, undoubtedly.
Six of the Best? A detention for the Sauvignons and Pinots, the Rieslings are on target whilst the Chardonnays, Cabernets and Syrahs all had gold stars. By Gove!!
[Richard: our second wine society tasting. We weren’t much impressed with the first – the theme ‘obscure grapes’ or similar but this was much better. A shame it was (again) on a Monday night but there were plenty of people there, mostly of ‘a certain age’, like ourselves. An initial disappointment was that the 2001 Meursault, listed in the brochure, was not available. No explanation offered. However, as Geoff said the (more expensive) substitute was very good. My views on the wines are very similar to Geoff, apart from the Sancerre which I thought was very good – perhaps because I bought a few bottles some years ago. The Marsannay, at £20 was way overpriced, despite the best efforts of a WS employee to talk it up. My other favourite was the Cornas, with a lovely nose and lots of depth. Only a couple of photos as these are all visible on the WS website.]