Back last autumn, I blogged about a series of evening classes I was running at Bristol’s Stoke Lodge Centre under the title ‘Wine Rivers of Europe’. Each week, I chose one of Europe’s rivers and we talked about and tasted the wines that are produced along its length and the influence of the river on those wines. But, not everyone could give up 5 evenings and so, last Saturday, I ran an abbreviated version in just 1 day. Despite leaving out a big chunk of the original material and only tasting 12 wines instead of 30, we still explored the importance of rivers to many of the wines we drink. They affect climate – warming or cooling the area and helping to cut down on the effects of frost, they scour out deep channels with steep banks providing great exposure to the sun and better drainage and, in days when road transport was difficult, they were the easiest way to transport heavy cargoes – like wine – from one place to another.
The rivers I chose – the Loire, Rhône, Rhine, Danube and Douro/Duero – provided a wonderful diversity of wines, from a delicate Rhine Riesling to a rich, sweet LBV port and plenty in between. And the class favourites on the day were equally diverse with 3 joint winners:
Château de Montfort’s Vouvray (Waitrose, £9.99) was clean and refreshing and just a little off-dry making it a perfect aperitif or a match for light summer meals or picnics.
Peter and Ulrich Griebeler’s Dry Riesling from the Mosel (Majestic, £10.99) showed just how successful and attractive this modern take on German wine can be – delicate with lovely apple and ripe pear flavours and a really long clean finish.
Of the reds, Lamatum’s Ribera del Duero Crianza (Majestic, £8.99) was a clear winner. Made from 100% Tempranillo, this is grown high on Spain’s Central Plateau where the hot summer days are offset by cool nights giving a weighty but well balanced and black-fruited red – one that might be even better in a year or two.
In their different ways, each of the wines showed the effects of their closeness to rivers and the whole group agreed that this relationship was a fascinating topic to explore.
My next courses at Stoke Lodge will be after the summer break. Log on to www.bristolcourses.com in a month or so when full details will be available and booking open.