Here’s a brief write-up of some of the more interesting wines I encountered at the Naked Wines tasting in London this evening. I have to say, I think the interactions with the winemakers were at least as interesting as the wines, if not more so. So nice to have a room full of enthusiastic producers who were for the most part absolutely delighted to share any amount of detail about what they do, and why. In fact I worry that I may have rated some wines more highly, merely because I had a good conversation. Objectivity can be hard to find in a crowded room, when you’ve tasted 30 or 40 wines . . .
Paul Klein Muscateller 2010
An off-dry Muscat, heady with grape flavours and white blossom aromas, and with a very attractive “spritz” – in fact, I couldn’t help thinking that if you take a good Moscato D’Asti and remove most of the residual sugar, the result might be something like this. Rather wonderful, and at 10.5%, not too dangerous . . .
Brewery Hill Jacko’s Leap Savarro 2010
A curiosity – being possibly the only varietal Savarro in the world – apparently thought to be Albarino, until an ampelographer pronounced it actually to be something else. This had an appealing grassy, green pepper character, and attractive body. Possibly a little lacking in acidity, but that would be nit-picking.
Hegarty Chamans Blanc 2008
My wine of the night, no question. This is a blend of two Southern France white wine staples, Marsanne and Rousanne, given some subtle oak aging and fermenting on the lees (dead yeast cells). A sort of poor mans’ Hermitage, you might say, expect that there was nothing poor about this. Really delicious, full bodied, fat and round, with an array of herbacious, grassy and buttery flavours. If that sounds rather blowsy, it’s not – there was real elegance on the finish of this wine – not to mention phenomenal length. In fact it was so long, I struggled to make sense of the Hegarty Chamans Red, which I tried immediately after!
Carlos Rodriguez Rioja Reserva 2006
A reserva Rioja that’s already drinking well, but with plenty of years ahead of it, this had dark and chewy raspberry fruit with a brambly edge, and some subtle mocha notes. I liked the elegance of the fruit, there was something nicely restrained about this wine. Carlos’s Crianza 2008 was also showing very well.
Benjamin Darnault Minervois Liviniere Reserve 2008
I liked all of Benjamin’s wines – a nicely judged Viognier, a fresh and fruity Picpoul and several rather moreish reds. This would be my pick though – a Syrah and Carignan blend, with dark savoury fruit, good concentration and a serious finish. Ben’s St. Chinian is also very good.
Finely, an honourable mention must go to the wonderful sourdough bread and decent cheeses which were tucked away in one corner of the room. Quite unexpected, and very welcome at the end of the evening.
Note: some of the above wines were being shown at the tasting in advance of being available on the site, in this case I have linked to the producers page, in anticipation.