Last Sunday a group of 10 incognito wine fans got together for a long awaited fifth edition to #arse. We met on the steps of the National Gallery like eager schoolchildren waiting to be taken on a treasure hunt (the venue for ARSE is always a closely guarded secret, right until the very last minute). From there we were led towards St Martin’s lane, to try to match up the clues we had been given by ARSE maestro @wine_scribber. Once seated upstairs, we unfurled our vinous offerings and set about tasting. The remit? Something special. The guide price range? Between £12-20. Here is a run down of the highlights.
Champagne Dauby Cuvee Flor NV (or multi-v – though sadly that does not mean vitamin). A 70% pinot noir, 30% chardonnay fresh and fruity number from mother and daughter team. This cleansed our palates, woke us up, and eased us into the rest of the tasting perfectly. Shouldn’t every day begin like this?
Camel Valley x 2: two of us brought bottles from camel valley, two of us purchased them at the cellar door just outside of Bodmin. One of us (me) sadly hadn’t made it on to the vineyard tour (yet!). The first of the bottles – my choice, was the Atlantic Dry 2012 – a blend of 60% bacchus, 20% reichensteiner and 20% chardonnay. I chose this because I hadn’t yet tired it and it sounded interesting. The bacchus notes were evident – elderflower and grapefruit, a clear minerality and an overall addictive nose. Some described it as ‘sweaty’ softened by the chardonnay, and much fatter than the Dambiole Bacchus 2011 which, next up, had a much more delicate elderflower nose, was steelier than a straight bacchus, and had floral notes of violets, and a delicious minerality; like licking a slatey stone. It was decided that this would go beautifully with a Cornish crab risotto.
Bird on a wire Marsanne 2010, Australia. Cheekily, this went over budget at £33, but pleasantly so as it was my definite favourite of the day. My tasting notes read ‘HONEY!!!’ on the nose. Round and chewy, with top notes of lemon. Oak aged and oily. Fat and rich. High on the alcohol levels, but a great food wine –perhaps with a meaty fish like Monkfish.
The Murrieta Capellania Reserva Blanco 2006 from Rioja left the room divided – much to @londonbarscene ‘s pleasure. Available from Fine and Rare, this 100% viura wine has a nose reminiscent of sherry, salty and nutty, with a hint of caramel sweetness to it. Aged in 100% new oak it finishes up superbly golden in colour, its finish is dry and curiously moreish.
Naked Wines’ Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir 2009 from Central Otago in New Zealand was another of the wines to get a mixed reaction. For me it worked. A Smokey, oaky, brambly wine with a gentle addition of slightly sweeter fruit. Others at the table found it tasted of meat juices, not a welcome flavour.
The Alma de Tinto Mencia, 2010 from Monterrei in Spain was chosen by Andrew – his choice for the Oddbin’s bloggers case, priced at £7.99. Herbaceous red cherry prevailed, with underlying cranberry and a coffee or mocha note – otherwise known a ‘torrefaccion’. Very drinkable.
Portugal’s Cortes de Cima from the hot climate Alentejo region showed off its demonstrable heat with fruit. Black cherry was predominant here from a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Torriga Nacional. It also includes some Alicante bouchet – the only red grape that also gives you red flesh. This, to me, is now a well known fact.
The tasting, before we finally tucked in to lunch, was rounded off with something sticky: a Chateau Giraud, Sauternes, 1999 from Bordeaux. A heady concoction of marmalade, brandy snaps and syrupy, but still fresh GOLD. The same word pretty much sums up the rest of the afternoon. Thanks Mr Barrow. And the rest of the tasters (@ldnbarscene @missbouquet @fml_jack @ch3m1stry @lizzie_shell, @sipswooshspit @sarahbb1 @simonjwoolf)