Regular Bristol Wine Blog readers know I’m always keen to taste wines made from different grape varieties or in obscure wine regions. So, the Bristol Tasting Circle’s latest theme, ‘Interesting and Unusual Wines’, was just perfect for me. Especially as the wines were chosen and presented by Rachel from one of our best local independent wine merchants, Corks of Cotham (and now of North Street and at Cargo, too).
And from the moment I first looked at the tasting list, my anticipation was heightened: almost half the wines were from grape varieties I’d never tasted before. But, it’s not good enough for a wine just to be unusual, it has to be enjoyable, too. And these, in the main, certainly were.
Among the reds, 2 in particular stood out for me: 7 Fuentes Suertes del Marques (£15.99) is a juicy, black-fruited wine made mainly with the Listan Negra grape variety grown on volcanic soils in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. This is still young and will benefit from a couple more years or decanting whereas Envinate’s Tinto Amarela (£21) from Estramadura on the Spanish mainland would be delicious now – quite fresh in character and full of attractive sour cherry flavours.
Spain also provided one of my 2 top whites, the simply named Reto Ponce (£17.99). Herby and citrusy with pleasant aromas of fennel, this is from the local Albillo grape grown in the hills above Valencia, an area hitherto much better known for its reds, particularly from the variety Monastrel (aka Mourvedre).
But my favourite wine of the evening was from Austria.
Johanneshof Reinisch’s Gumpoldskirchner Tradition (£14.99) is both a mouthful to pronounce and a delicious mouthful to taste. From a blend of Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, this is wonderfully fragrant – almost like a Gewurztraminer on first nose – with spicy, honeyed flavours but a completely dry finish just begging to be teamed with a noble fish in a creamy and perhaps slightly spicy sauce.
All in all, a fascinating tasting, showing just how many different tastes and styles are out there just waiting to be discovered – and, incidentally, the benefits of a good independent wine merchant who can home in on the best of them for their customers.