Around this time last year, a friend asked me “How many different wines do you drink in a year?” I had to confess that I had no idea. But, the question intrigued me and so, geek that I am, I decided to try and count them in 2018! Amazingly, I persevered and, with just a few days left of the year, the total has just passed …..550!
Mathematicians among you will have calculated instantly that that’s about 1½ wines a day so, before anyone thinks I’ve spent the entire year in a permanent drunken stupor, I should say that the majority of the 550 have been at tastings where it’s been sniff, slurp, spit, scribble a quick note and on to the next wine – very little actually swallowed.
Not satisfied with mere numbers, I can also report that I’ve tasted wines from 23 different countries and from at least 99 different grape varieties – ranging alphabetically from agioritiko to zweigelt (Greek and Austrian reds, respectively). I say ‘at least’ 99 because I only counted the major component of any blend and there were a couple of wines that I couldn’t discover which grape was involved.
The obvious next question must be ‘which was your favourite?’ and that, I’m afraid, is the hardest of all to answer – I’ve been lucky enough to taste so many truly delicious wines. But I can say which was the most memorable:
On a damp, chilly autumn day, my wife and I went to an event at Bristol’s Underfall Yard where an assortment of Portuguese products had been brought from Porto to the UK carried by a century-old sailing boat, the Bessie-Ellen. Among the cargo was a few bottles of Adega Viúva Gomes’ Collares Reserva Branco 1969. This incredible 49 year old wine is difficult to describe; perhaps closest would be to say it was in the style of a white port or madeira (even though it was not fortified as they would be) – deep golden colour, tangy and nutty and a finish that lasted for ever. Remarkably, it was still full of life – and easily the most memorable wine of my busy, fruitful year. (www.xistowines.co.uk may have some left, about £45)