No, you’re not seeing things! It is Wallace and Gromit. And I was equally startled to encounter them at the annual wine tasting of local wine importer Vine Trail. They are now sharing a home with Aardman Animations, who created the iconic duo and the way to the tasting was through a selection of their statues. Quite a distraction!
Until, that is, I started tasting my way round the more than 20 wines from all corners of France that were on show. And it soon became clear that, although Vine Trail’s location had changed, their focus on high quality wines from small-scale French producers remains.
As ever, it’s difficult to choose just a few to mention, but, among the whites I tasted, I particularly noted Domaine de l’Oratoire St Martin’s Côtes du Rhône (£12.30) – quite full-bodied with a lovely, tangy freshness about it, while Domaine Montesquiou’s dry Jurançon (£12.49), an old favourite of ours, was beautifully balanced – subtle fruit and a delightful, refreshing acidity. For me, the reds were headed by Domaine de Cébène’s ‘Ex Arena’ (£13.60), a spicy, black-fruited blend of Grenache and Mourvedre from the Languedoc, one of 3 wines (all excellent) that Vine Trail import from this estate. Domaine Laurens’ Marcillac (£9.90) from a little known area in the shadow of the Massif Central, also showed well; its attractive peppery fruit character and quite light body reminding me of a good Beaujolais.
If you’re interested in these, or any of Vine Trail’s other wines, you can find details on their website, http://www.vinetrail.co.uk (minimum order 1 case, which can be 12 assorted bottles) or you can taste them at one of a number of good restaurants to whom Vine Trail also supply wines including Bristol’s latest Michelin Star winner, Wilks in Chandos Road.
As for this tasting, I can’t do better than paraphrase the title of the film that made Wallace and Gromit famous: it was a ‘Grand Evening Out’ and a ‘Grand Wine Tasting’!