I like to think that I have a good relationship with wine which has matured and flourished over the years. From my tender teenage days of curling my lips up at a glass of dry champagne at the Christmas table, to petrol station stop-offs for a bottle of Lambrini at collage. It is safe to say that I have seen both sides of the spectrum and have found that my taste has certainly changed as I’ve grown; from starting out adoring a full bodied red I then changed to a fruity and light white before settling into a sweet pink with the odd splash of lemonade for a fizz from time to time across my early twenties. Nowadays I prefer a delicious glass of prosecco to accompany my dinner followed by a mid-afternoon nap as I approach thirty.
One thing I have never done in England is attend a wine tasting event, as I’ve been on many an excursion to vineyards across Europe to sample local grapes, but oddly enough I’d managed to overlook the selection of fine wines of the world right here on my doorstep. So with an invitation to the Aylesbury stores Spotlight Tasting evening I couldn’t resist meeting the team and sampling my way around the globe. Arriving in store I was greeted at the door by a member of staff who handed me a delicious glass of Prosecco La Marca Conegliano at £14.99 per bottle, along with a tasting sheet and biro to visit each wine station and sample the twelve specially selected wines for the evening, alongside crusty bread and a selection of creamy to gooey cheeses. I marked my first note on the tasting sheet next to the prosecco as “light, fruity and refreshing” with the characteristics of apples and pineapples making it the perfect accompaniment to a light lunch.
My second sample was the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee at £35.99 per bottle, which I marked as “strong and zingy” not normally a characteristic that I enjoy in a white, but in a small amount it was quite pleasant and I could see it sitting well with a Sunday roast. The Aubas Colombard Gros Manseng is priced at £6.49 per bottle and my notes were “lemon water that disappears in the mouth.” I found it incredibly easy and refreshing to drink, but it went down all too quickly and didn’t hold my attention or warrant a further sip, as I like a wine to absorb into my tongue and have a bite, and this was too loose and gentle but incredibly easy to drink. With a citrus fruit and exotic notes it offers a refreshing acidity ideal with seafood or light pasta dishes.
Moving onto the Rustenburg Sauvingnon priced at £13.49 per bottle, my notes are “dry and bitter with an aftertaste.” The ripe gooseberry and mineral characteristics create a zingy finish which marry well with oysters and scallops, and it is certainly a wine to be enjoyed alongside a meal. The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris is £14.99 per bottle for which my notes state: “zingy and uplifting!” I am a keen fan of pink, with delicious perfume of honeysuckle and peach making it utterly mouthwatering. Teamed with a creamy cheese and hunk of torn bread and I’m in heaven. Next up was the Bourgogne Chardonnay Lefaive priced at £17.99 per bottle. My notes for this were “pungent with a sharp aftertaste” oh dear. With a combination of crisp citrus fruit, yellow apple and white peach the acidity was a little too intense for my liking and perhaps needed the accompaniment of a mild cheese to balance out the strong flavours.
The Guigal Cotes Du Rhone is £11.99 per bottle for which I wrote “peppery and fruity with a nice aftertaste” as its robust dark fruit and savoury white pepper notes make it superb with meat dishes and moussaka. This was followed by the Cune Reserva Rioja at £14.99 per bottle which I noted to be “fruity and rich with a delicious aftertaste.” It is a soft and luxurious red with a hint of spice, caramel and coffee over rich autumn fruits with a lingering finish, well suited to rich meats. The Mud House Pinot Noir at £14.99 per bottle received the note of “light and fruity”, it is filled with bright red cherry and dark bramble fruit, with mocha and spice and a touch of acidity creating balance and length most suited towards duck or lamb. Moving onto the Chateau Beau-Site at £19.99 per bottle, I jotted “delicious with a smokey aftertaste”. And it is certainly a claret with all-round appeal, with its perfect combination of blackberries, sweet spice and toasted oak perfect with beef or venison.
The Chateau Musar is priced at £22.00 per bottle and noted as “light and gentle, incredibly easy to drink.” With concentrated plum, blackberry, fig, prune, liquorice and spice, it is balanced by a touch of acidity and streaks of cedar and cinnamon throughout, making it a very versatile wine to be enjoyed with all foods. We finished the evening with the very fittingly named A Sticky End Sauvignon priced at £15.99 per bottle for which I jotted “delicious honey and rhubarb!” As the grapes are left an extended time on the vine it creates such a delightfully ripe, sweet and complex flavour. Bursting with the taste and aromas of peach, lychee, fig, honey and nectarine with a slight citrus lift, it is the ideal dessert wine to accompany a summer fruit pudding or homemade crumble and custard and I’m literally drooling at the thought of it right now.
It was incredibly interesting and informative to sample such a wonderful selection of wines, speaking with the knowledgable and friendly staff and discovering the origins of each grape and region. It’s all too easy to become stuck in a rut with wine, to stick to what you know best and overlook the many amazing varieties available. In coming to a tasting event like this, it really is the perfect opportunity to sample a spectrum of flavours and rediscover the wonders of wine whilst trying something new and I highly recommend it to everybody. I have had such a fantastic time wine tasting and am now stocked up on a selection of artisan cheeses and wine for a wonderful winters evening in front of the fire. Bliss.
My Favourite Wines Of The Evening:
White: Prosecco La Marca Conegliano at £14.99 per bottle
Red: Cune Reserva Rioja at £14.99 per bottle
Pink: King’s Thorn Pinot Gris at £14.99 per bottle
Dessert: A Sticky End Sauvingnon at £15.99 per bottle
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