Majestic Stratford Upon Avon Fine Wine Tasting April 2017

As regular readers will know that I belong to a wine Forum called ‘Cuvée Reserve’ and once a year our group meet up for a weekend of basically, drinking lots of wine. This year we met at Stratford Upon Avon and we thought we would signed up for a ‘Fine Wine Tasting’ at the local Majestic store. An initial fee of £20 per person was paid but that is redeemable on any wine purchases after the event.

Big thanks to our head girl Clare who runs the forum and for organising everything so superbly !

We arrived at 1.30pm on Saturday the 8th April, an early start for drinking I know but we have to make sacrifices sometime. There was a slight confusion with the time as they had us down for 2.00pm which we found out was their mistake but it wasn’t a problem as we spent the time browsing around the store with a glass of Moet & Chandon 2008 Champagne (is there a better way to shop).

A table was laid out in the corner of the store for us as we finally settled down for the tasting first up was the Moet & Chandon again. This was a beautifully balanced single vintage Champagne full of intense apple and lemon fruit, lively mousse with a pronounced bready, nutty and a creamy aftertaste producing a very long, extremely enjoyable finish and loved by everyone. (Top ups were not refused).

Second wine was a Rosé the Miraval 2015 Cotes de Provence bought by Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in 2009 and made by the Perrin family. Pale pink almost Salmon like colour with a very strange almost peaty aroma although there was a hint of strawberry, it just smelt a bit weird. Taste wise again it was not what we expected there were elements of soft fruit including strawberry, peach and pear. Slightly flowery but with a slightly overpowering herby, earthy flavour which most of us found a bit strange, think my wife and I liked it more than the others, so overall a little bit of a miss.

Third was the impressive Greywackey 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and made by Cloudy Bay former wine maker Kevin Judd.  From the first sip this was universally applauded by all of us. Superb aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, flowers and damp freshly mowed grass. On first sip it was greeted by a lot of M’mms and everyone thought it was stunning. Crisp and vibrant, soft acidity with intense flavours of  lemongrass, white flowers, gooseberry and herbs with just a hint of subtle oak rounding it off.  Refills all around and the bottle didn’t last long, superb stuff.

The Last white was an unusual oaked Chardonnay from Italy, the Planeta 2015 with heady aromas of butterscotch, banana and vanilla. On first taste I was initially hit by what tasted like barley sugar along with caramelised banana, there was a creaminess about it and the oak definitely stood out, again this split us although nobody disliked it and I thought it was very good.

With the whites finished next up were the reds starting with a Pinot Noir from Martinborough New Zealand the impressive Escarpment 2014 generally liked by all. Pronounced aromas of soft dark fruits, smokey and earthy. Cherry and plums to the fore with a kick of spice on the palate, earthiness coming through but not intrusive. Nicely balanced wine.

Next up was a big favourite, the Chateau Haut Balailley 2011  but it comes at a price for a whopping £40 per single bottle. Cherries, Cassis and classic pencil shavings on the nose. Love the taste, complex yet harmonious, blackcurrants, cedarwoood, herbs, notable tannins and really really drinkable on its own.  As you can see from the picture we emptied the bottle.

A Gran Reserva Rioja next the Marques de Riscal 2007 this is everything a Rioja should be full of red cherries a little strawberry, leather, incense, oak, candlewax and tobacco. Ten year old wine that went down well with everybody including my wife who doesn’t generally like oakey Riojas, fabulous example of what Spain does well.

This was suppose to be the end of the tasting, but the guys at Majestic (who were very good, amiable and knowledgeable) decided we were enjoying ourselves so much that they opened up another couple of bottle for us to try.

First was another French red the Caronne Ste-Gemme 2011 Haut Medoc and again enjoyed by all, dark ripe blackberries, menthol, tannic, rich and chocolately but this time, I’d have to say, more of a food wine but none the less enjoyable.

Last but not least a black Muscat dessert wine called Elysium 2015 even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines you cannot fail to be impressed with this. smells like Turkish Delight and that rose like flavour carries on in the taste, not overly sweet and a big thumbs up from all around the table.

Thanks to the guys at Majestic for a superb tasting, (one of the better ones I’ve attended) they were very generous letting us drink as much as we wanted and we all went away pretty happy if a little unsteady.

My rating 9/10 Corks (for the whole tasting)

Decanter Spain & Portugal Fine Wine Encounter 2014

Decantertitle2014The prestigious Landmark Hotel in London was the venue for this year’s ‘Decanter Spain  & Portugal Fine Wine Encounter 2014’. The hotel and Decanter did a brilliant job as hosts and provided my wife and I with a great afternoon tasting some wonderful wines.

The event started at 11.00am which was a little early for us as we intended stopping for a hearty lunch on route, we finally got there around 12.50pm. After checking in and receiving our Decanter wrist bands we made our way to the main tasting rooms. The event was split into two rooms, one hosting Spanish wines the other Portuguese wines. With my love of Spanish wines in particular we naturally headed to the Spanish stands and had a quick wander around  to get our bearings.

This had to be a quick look as we had a ‘Torres Masterclass’  booked for  1.30pm but couldn’t resist stopping off at the Muga stand and trying the Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2005 and the Barrel Fermented White 2013, both very nice and a great start.

At around 1.2decanter2014masterclass(600 x 450)0pm we queued up for the ‘Torres Master Class’ hosted by fifth generation winemaker Mireia Torres. In the room tables were set with hundreds of glasses filled standing on pristine white table cloths, the reds were all primed and ready but the whites (chardonnay) were still to be poured.
We took our seats and disaster struck, I decided to pour some water out before the tasting started and unfortunately the water bottle was at the far part of the cluttered table and as i reached over my sleeve caught the nearest glass (Torres Mas la Plana 1996) and you guessed it, sent red wine flying everywhere, luckily nothing smashed and only that glass lost its contents but it did leave a sodden and very red table cloth. Thank goodness the talk hadn’t started yet. Luckily again, the guys serving quickly cleared up and with the whites poured we were ready to go.Masterclass(600 x 450)

Mireia  gave a fairly detailed  talk on the history of Torres which included tasting  single vineyard wines. Of the 12 wines we tasted they were all pretty decent, starting with the excellent   Milmanda Chardonnay 2008, deep gold coloured rich, honeyed and bursting with ripe tropical fruit, ending the first set of six wines  with The Mas la Planas 1983, 1996 & 2009 which were also extremely good.
Of the second set of wines, I really enjoyed tasting the first two Jean Leon’s  100% Cabernet Sauvignons  the 1982 Gran Reserva and the 1998 Gran Reserva both intense and complex.
Ending  with the Grans Muralles, again all fantastic including the 2001, 2007 & 2009 and featuring the lesser known and disappearing varieties Garro & Samso.

Mestizaje(450 x 600)Back in the ‘Spanish tasting Room ‘ I was like a kid in a sweet shop, not knowing which way to turn, lots of brilliant wines tasted, too many to list all my favourites but just to highlight a few, the best reasonably priced red I found was from Bodega Mustiguillo, Pago El Terrerazo from Valencia, The Mestizaje 2011 a fantastic blend of Bobal, Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon Garnacha & Shiraz Around £11 in Uk about 9 Euros in Spain.

Best white was from the same Bodega the Finca Calvestra 2012 made with 100% Merseguera (one of the nicest whites i’ve tasted for a while) this was a little more expensive at around £24 but a price I would be Fincacalvestra (450 x 600)more than happy to pay. I must say the guys at this stand were particularly helpful and Knowledgeable.

As I say lots of brilliant wines tasted too many to mention and I didn’t get to taste any Portuguese wines, what with the Masterclass finishing at just after 3.00pm and the event closing at 5.00pm just didn’t have the time.

To see more pictures and a brief Decanter Video click on link……….

 

http://www.decanter.com/wine-events/video/584858/video-decanter-spain-portugal-fine-wine-encounter-2014