Not knowing what I'd opened, Mr PT, declared it great aperitif.
Fresh with a hint of sweetness & lingering grapefruit citrus on the palate.
It had a very pale colour, a nose much like a Riesling with lime and minerality. Lighter in acid than a pure Riesling, but nonetheless, zingy enough. It was sweeter than I'd normally choose, being neither a dry white nor a dessert wine. This could prove challenging to the UK market. That said, the rise and rise of wines like Apothic and 14 Hands, along with fruit flavoured beers and ciders indicates a real sweet tooth in our drinking public.
To that end, coupled with the demand for lower alcohol levels, it's very surprising that sweeter Rieslings and other lighter German and Alsatian wines aren't more popular on wine lists.
Perhaps the impenetrable "branding" with grape names like Ehrenfelser (hinting at the varietal's German origins) helps to explain this. English wine is still looking for its star seller, and while Bacchus gets my money over a Sauvignon Blanc any day, perhaps exploring the sweeter end of the spectrum is the way for English wine makers to win over the public. We need to be encouraged to experiment more.
But writing about great wines hand-carried from Canada doesn't help you much, even though it was even nicer on the second night. If you're interested in trying a Canadian wine, there's an Okanagan Pinot Noir at around £16 at M&S.
First up was a similar wine style to the Canadian wine above, slightly sweet, fresh and zingy and a good aperitif. A Slovenian blend, 1139 contains Riesling and Pinot Gris, plus slightly less well known varieties, Traminer (parent of Gewürztraminer), and Furmint, a variety most well known from Hungary where it is used to make dry white wines and the very sweet Tokaji dessert wines.
Fresh and floral with citrus and apple, light and refreshing, easy to drink and a great aperitif, this £7.99 gem was a great start to the party and achieved a resounding hit with the panel of 10, scoring an average 8/10. Many would buy it again. A success for the wines of Slovenia and a reasonable 12.5% alcohol.
Croatia's Grasevina grape came next in a white that was much more golden in colour and, although not naked, felt heavy and oaky to the group, who rated it only a 3/10. I imagine this could be an acquired taste, and perhaps positioned at a different point in the tasting, it would have had more appeal. With food too, it may have fared better. Worthy of a try if you like full bodied whites, though it didn't match up to the description on the back label as fresh, mouthwatering, apple, citrus and peach. Interestingly, there is no oak. I have to wonder if it had slightly oxidised.
Really popular with the group for its peachy flavour, which some described as "sweet". It scored an average of 7/10. Fresh and floral with some minerality, and tropical fruits, it's lively enough to serve as an aperitif or with seafood or white meat.
Normally £16, I included this as it was on half price sale at just £8. (13% abv)
Dry on the palate but very fruit, crisp, refreshing with hints of rhubarb and raspberry, with a nice dark salmon colour colour, even the non rosé fans enjoyed it. Scoring 8/10 on average, perhaps this was the most surprising wine of the night. A great wine for summer, 13.5% abv and around £10 a bottle.
With bright cherry flavours, this split the crowd with descriptions like smooth, and sour. Interestingly, some floral hints made it appeal to the testers who were less likely to choose red wine. Scores ranged from 9/10 to 4/10. It was not great with cheese, but a nice, light and easy red for drinking by the barbecue, perhaps before the food is ready. Again, around £8.
This was the perfect occasion to drink this Tempranillo/Shiraz blend.
As far as I'm concerned, this can stay off the beaten track. Perhaps paired with a lamb jalfrezi to drown out it's flavour, we'd have got somewhere, but the overall consensus was - not good.
Only one person liked it a lot for spiciness. He had no challengers for taking the rest of the bottle home. The rest of us poured it into the spittoon.
If curiosity gets the better of you, this is about £8, but my advice is, spend it on ANY of the other wines mentioned here first.
Our Syrian taster rated it as nothing special, but then, he was alone on the Indian wine. The drinkers who rarely choose reds gave it an 8/10, while the other scored around 6 or 7. Described as drinkable plum crumble, this is definitely worth taking a punt on, particularly during the 25% off any 6 sale that seems to have been on at M&S for the last month or so.
Another wine we'd tried as part of our virtual travel adventures, this Georgian wine, Saperavi was on a half price offer at the time of buying, reduced from £10 to just £5! Factor in the 25% discount for buying 6 and how much is tax and this wine is being virtually given away.
Interest in Georgian wines is high right now, due to the current interest in "orange wines", the white wines made with prolonged skin contact, a style much influenced by the Georgian Kevri wines. (Notably, the only place you'd find Georgian whites on the high street is M&S too).
Everyone loved this one with most indicating they'd be happy to pay up to£25. Imagine the surprise on revealing it was just £5! By far, this was voted the best wine of the night with a score of 10/10: stunning value and a great chance to try an unusual varietal from an unusual country, that is in fact, the cradle of wine civilisation.
I felt that it's position as last in the tasting didn't do it justice, nevertheless, it scored around 9/10 on average, and was a huge hit with our Syrian taster who regretted his decision to take home the Indian wine. This one would work really well with food, particularly after 10 other wines!
I attended this with my wine-blogger buddy, Jo from Perfect Friday Wine.
We loved the play, perhaps even more than the movie, and being able to drink the sensational Sandford Chardonnay and Pinot Noir while watching the show did no harm at all.
Sadly the theatre was not full, even on a Saturday night, so I urge all London wine lovers to get along to the theatre and support the cast, who do a great job bringing the complex characters to life. And do remember to order your half time Pinot for the interval.
I'm always interested in hearing about the wines you've been enjoying via my twitter or Facebook pages. Share your unusual finds and I might just pass them along.