Saturday 7th October 2017 : "How many Grape Varieties can be Squeezed into a Bottle...?" with Jill & Bryan in Worthing.
A very 'full house' enjoyed the Norris's 2017 evening. Sixteen of us were welcomed by Jill & Bryan for a most enjoyable Tasting at their home in Worthing. The evening proved to be so well anticipated that it had virtually 'sold out' within 24 hours of the 'Bin Ends' notification ...!
1. Fifty Shades of Grey "White Silk",2013; California, USA; blend of 90% Gewürtztraminer, 10% Sauvignon Blanc (2 grapes); 13.5% abv; bought by Bryan in Florida for $17
A blend of Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, White Silk has an intense floral scent, sweet but acidic flavor, and delicate body. Despite being aged in stainless steel, the wine takes on a chest-burning characteristic and butterscotch-like flavor often found in oak-aged white wines. Ladies, go ahead and indulge in this bottle while reading the next romance novel on your list.
2. Les Closiers Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, France; blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette & Bourboulenc (4 grapes); 14% abv; M&S; bought for £18
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine makes great wine and food pairings for all types of fish, shell fish, lobster, crab, sushi, crudo, veal, chicken, pork, dishes with cream sauces, select vegetable courses and a widely diverse array of hard or soft cheese.
3. "Evolution", Oregon, USA; blend of Semillon, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer, Muscat, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc & Sylvaner (9 grapes...!); 12% abv; £17.99 from Hennings
(The winemaker is Sokol Blosser).
We shortened the name to Evolution (we also trademarked it) and had fun with the package. The new label picks up similar elements of the old label with a fresh twist. It reflects how Evolution evolves: the same classic blend of 9 white grapes, each pressed separately, adding its own character. At the same time, every new bottling has its own subtle and fresh personality; this edition is slightly less sweet than the last. The 9 grapes tie together perfectly, creating a smooth, layered white wine that can hold its own or stand up to just about any food pairing you dare to serve it with. It is extraordinarily food-friendly, from light salads to the hottest fusion-style cuisine.
At our SWAS evening we actually tasted the 19th edition (the edition numbers serve a similar function to a vintage date) which melds nine different grapes into an aromatic, lushly detailed whole. Stone and tropical fruits abound, loading the palate with flavours of peaches, cream and lemon meringue. It’s thoroughly delicious without a hint of wood.
4. Verada Tri-County Pinot Noir 2015; California, USA; 100% Pinot Noir (one grape but from three counties); 13.7% abv; bought by Bryan in Florida for $14
Pinot Noir grapes from Monterey, Sonoma & Santa Barbara counties, CA - This Pinot Noir has an excellent oak structure, rich, complex, and nuanced black currant and raspberry notes. The grapes are hand picked and the wine spends 16 months in French oak to smooth it out and preserve the richness and finesse.
5. "Evolution", Oregon, USA; blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Syrah, Semillon, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer, Muscat, Chardonnay (10 grapes...!); 14% abv; £17.99 from Hennings
At last, a red wine offering in Sokol Blosser's "Evolution" series, companion to their extremely popular "Evolution" white blend, a staff and customer favorite around here. Like the white, the folks at Evolution have kept the exact varietals in this fruity and food-friendly Syrah-based red blend a secret, preferring to let the taste to the talking. They do give some hints though: "One sip and you'll agree this soft and balanced wine with notes of dark berries and cloves, which finishes in velvet is exceptional among the red blends available today. Evolution Red pairs best with all kinds of meat (smoked, herbed), ribs, lamb, stews, turkey and even some pizzas." We love it for its complex fruit and earth spice aroma and flavors, and supple palate that offers plenty of fruit without coming across as heavy or extracted. The food pairing options are endless!
6. Colomé Altitude Blend Malbec, 2014; Argentina; blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Tannat (3 grapes); 14.5% abv; £17.49 from Waitrose
Grown at altitude among the cacti and rainbow rock formations of the Calchaquí Valley in the foothills of the Andes in north-western Argentina, this malbec blend has both density and elegance. It's deep and dark but has a soft breeze running through it - suggestions of redcurrant leaf, violets and spicy cherries.
7. Groote Post The Old Man's Blend Red 2016; South Africa Coastal Region; a blend of 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Shiraz, 10% Cabernet Franc (4 grapes); 14% abv; £10.50 from Hennings
A down to earth, ripe fruit driven blended red wine. Cherry, mulberry and cedar wood are prominent on the nose with soft tannins on the palate giving a smooth finish. The Appelation is the SA Coastal Region.
Each cultivar is picked at optimum ripeness. During winemaking the cultivars were kept apart and aged in third fill 300L French Oak barrels and in stainless steel tanks with staves. At 10 months the different components are blended after rigorous tasting sessions with our Old Man, Peter Pentz.
8. Petit Plaisir, "Plaisir de Merle" 2013; South Africa; blend of 50.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30.3% Shiraz, 10.5% Merlot, 8.3% Cabernet Franc, 0.7% Viognier (5 grapes); 14% abv; £9.50 from M&S
Colour: Dark berry colour. Bouquet: Concentrated cherry, plum and red berry, and light, savoury flavour notes. Taste: Sweet spice and vanilla flavours of the oak barrels bring the wine components together in a long, lingering sweet and soft finish.
In The Vineyard:
The diversity of the soils, slopes and elevations all add to the quality of Plaisir de Merle’s grapes. Well-drained weathered granite soils (predominantly Tukulu and Hutton) with good water retention allow minimal interference in irrigation with most vineyards being dry land. The grapes were selected and handpicked from various vineyards. They are situated between 250m and 370m above sea level on the south-eastern slopes of the Simonsberg.
In The Cellar:
The hand-picked grapes were crushed and fermented on the skins in stainless steel tanks at 24°C to 26 °C. The juice was pumped over the skins to extract colour and flavour. At the end of fermentation the wine was racked off the skins and malo-lactic fermentation was completed in the tanks and barrels. After a second racking the wine was matured in French and American oak barrels for periods ranging from 12 to 16 months. The individual wines were tasted and evaluated at this point and the blend was finalised. The wine was bottled with as little as possible interference.
9. Iona "One Man Band" 2013; Elgin Region, South Africa; blend of 65% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Mourvedre, 3% Viognier (5 grapes); 14% abv; £13.50 from M&S
A rich, oaked, aromatic red wine with flavours of blackcurrant, vanilla, spice.
About this bottle:
Andrew Gunn’s meticulous blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre and Viognier represents the lone musician playing his many instruments. From the cool Elgin region, this harmonious wine will keep for 5 years.
10. Black Elephant Vintners, Nicholas Red 2014; South Africa, Franschhoek Valley; blend of 64% Syrah, 14% Mourverdre, 14% Carignan, 5% Petite Syrah, 3% Grenache (5 grapes); 13% abv; £14.99 from Hennings
Named for one of founder Kevin Swart’s two sons, the ‘tortoise’ of the family. All fruit comes from five vineyards in the Franschhoek valley, hand-picked in mid-March 2014. They don’t crush the berries and 15-25 per cent whole bunches are added to each ferment. A touch of SO2 added here, but otherwise this wine is bereft of chemical additives (e.g. acid, enzymes or tannins). Natural fermentation in bins and old barrels for 7-12 days. Must is mixed by hand 2-3 times per day to aid extraction. Wine goes through an old basket press prior to malolactic and 24 months’ maturation in barrel (a combination of 225, 300 and 500-litre old French oak barrels). After final blending the wine matures for a further three months prior to bottling. Light fining (egg white) and filtration before bottling.
TASTING NOTES Intensely dark colour in the glass, sparkly bright fruit aromas of red cherries, raspberries, dried Mediterranean herbs and black pepper. Silky soft, some liquorice and fynbos. Serve ever-so-slightly chilled, and the winemakers recommend decanting in the first 3-5 years after vintage to appreciate it best.
For supper Jill served an excellent Hungarian Goulash with mini Roast Potatoes and Peas. A selection of Cheeses followed by Baked Peaches and Mincemeat Tart.
Bryan served two bottles of a 'Supper Wine' to accompany the food:
Vaile de Maipo 2013; Chile; Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva
1. Tinto da Anfora 2015; Touriga Nacional; Portugal, Aragon; blend of Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon (3 grapes) - won by Sheila
2. "The Search" 2016; South Africa; blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne (3 grapes) - won by Claire