Category Archives: Great Western Wine

An ‘Adult’ Wine

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“That was an adult wine” said my wife as we cleared the table after a leisurely meal.  I knew exactly what she meant – and it was nothing to do with the sort of movies to which the same adjective is often attached!  No, it was a wine (and this is going to sound very snobby, but it’s not meant to) for sophisticated palates; not one for easy quaffing with lots of up-front fruit, but one with real depth and intensity – although not at first taste.  Decanting helped, of course – I’d say it was essential – but even then, it took some time to open up and really show all it had to offer.

 

Mascota MalbecThe wine in question was Mascota Vineyards Gran Mascota Malbec (Great Western Wine, £14.50) from the Uco Valley, one of the most exciting parts of Argentina’s Mendoza region.  Here, vineyards are planted between 1000 and 1700 metres up in the foothills of the Andes Mountains (3300 to 5600 feet, if you prefer).  The altitude gives the wines a wonderful balance between ripeness and acidity and, in good hands, as, clearly, at Mascota – a new name to me – can produce something really special.  As the evening wore on, the wine revealed lovely flavours of blackberries and cooked plums with vanilla, cinnamon and smoke from the 18 months in French oak barrels.  All this came together beautifully with a long savoury finish.  It’s a wine to sit and enjoy, preferably with a tasty meal and some good company.

 

The Italians have a marvellous name for this sort of wine: they call it a Vino da Meditazione.  Literally translated, that’s a wine for meditation but, really, they mean a wine that encourages you to linger, to sit and chat and put the world to rights.  Or, as my wife said so succinctly, an adult wine.

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The Judgement of Paris Revisited

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judgement-dinnerBack in May, Bristol Wine Blog remembered a famous event in the wine world that had occurred 40 years earlier, in 1976: the tasting that has come to be known as the ‘Judgement of Paris’.   A young Englishman, Steven Spurrier, living and working in Paris, invited a group of renowned French judges – restauranteurs, producers and wine writers – to compare (blind) a selection of top Californian wines – Chardonnays and Cabernets – with leading Burgundies and Bordeaux. The expectation was that the French wines would win easily.  Only it didn’t work out like that!

So, what would happen if a similar tasting took place today?  Great Western Wines in conjunction with Bath’s Allium Restaurant decided to find out.  They organised an anniversary dinner including recent vintages of the 2 winning wines, the most prestigious of the losers and, to make things interesting, a couple of other ‘mystery’ wines.  With the chance to taste such potential delights, my wife and I were quick to book tickets.

The dinner, good though it was, was always going to play second fiddle to the tastings which, mimicking the original event, comprised a group of  Chardonnays and another of Cabernet Sauvignons (or Cabernet dominated blends), all, of course, tasted blind.  Everyone present was invited to vote for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category and the results were added up.   

Among the Chardonnays, the Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru ‘Les Pucelles’ (£210) gained revenge on the Chateau Montelena Napa Chardonnay (£43.50) this time, but both were beaten by the 3rd wine, Koo Yong’s Faultline Chardonnay from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula (£29.50).

The story was the same with the Cabernet Sauvignons.   Stag’s Leap SLV (£98) from California failed to repeat its earlier success.  Indeed, it, too, finished 3rd in its group behind the winning Château Mouton-Rothschild (£400) and the Cyril Henschke from Eden Valley in South Australia (£62).

A wonderful evening and a rare opportunity to taste some great wines – several at prices that I wouldn’t normally think of spending on a single bottle.  But, perhaps, more importantly, the chance to be part of an event commemorating a tasting that changed the face of the wine world for ever.

(The prices shown are those quoted by Great Western Wine.  For more information, email them at wine@greatwesternwine.co.uk).