First Taste

On the 7th of June, I tasted a dozen wines, which were praised by the British wine press recently, with members of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society.

Pongràcz Brut NV, Stellenbosch: A well known wine writer called this Cap Classique, a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from the firm founded by the Hungarian refugee Desiderius Pongràcz, the best sparkling wine in South Africa. It may or may not be, but it is a clean and pleasant enough drink. (From £10.49, Winesearcher)

Tre Uve Bianco 2010, Aquileia, Friuli: Made from equal measures of Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Crisp, fruity, clean and quite delightful without an overdose of pyrazines. (Bat & Bottle £9.50)

Crawford River Young Vines Riesling 2010, Victoria: Well made Riesling from 11 yr. old vines; absolutely delightful! Crisp lemony acidity and good fruit and a hint of sweetness. Great for drinking with or without food. Terpenes evident but no significant presence of TDA. (O.W. Loeb £15.64)

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2010, Margaret River: Over oaked and lacks definition. (From £12.84 Winesearcher)

Colli di Serrapetrona. Collequanto 2008, Serrapetrona, Marche
: Made with the rare Vernaccia Nera (95% with 5% Merlot) grown in and around the village of Serrapetrona with no oak ageing. Fragrant with red fruit palate and softening tannins but why 5% Merlot in the blend? Immensely enjoyable though. (Bat & Bottle £12.50)

Palataia Pinot Noir 2010, Pfalz: Made for Marks & Spencer. How good German Pinot Noir now is? Good pinot character. I am not a RWH sufferer but this wine gave me unbearable headaches every time I drank it! Excess histamine/tyramine or rogue yeast? (M&S £8.99)

Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2009: 3 million bottles of the wine were made in this excellent vintage and what a delight it is. 45% Syrah, 52% Grenache and 3% Mourvèdre blend from vines with 35 years average age and kept in oak foudres for six months. A must have wine which is already approachable. (From £8.40 Winesearcher)

Guigal Crozes Hermitage 2006: Another great vintage and another great wine from the master. 100% Syrah aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Almost ready. (From £15 Winesearcher)

Chateau Barreyers 2009, Cru BourgeoisThe second vintage to have the Cru Bourgeois label for the wine (and not the Chateau) after the re-launch of the Medoc classification in 2008. Pleasing. Already drinking. (Sainsbury £11.49)

Vinalba Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Mendoza: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, matured in French oak for twelve months from the Argentinian estate launched by a Frenchman in 2008. Tannic. Needs time. (Waitrose £6.83)

Guardian Peak Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Stellenbosch: A new effort by Jean Engelbrecht in the Helderberg Range. Massive, extracted wine with 15.5% alcohol and matured in first fill French oak casks for 18 months. Huge wine, dark and brooding and too heavy with alcohol to be pleasant. Why does it need a 1.3 kg bottle? (£16.95 Winesearcher)

Adalia 2008, Recioto della Valpolicella, Mezzane di Sotto, Veneto
: A decent attempt but nothing more than that. Rustic and disjointed. (Bat & Bottle £15)


“What an excellent evening!”

“Thank you so much for last evening; it was both informative and entertaining. As a novice to the world of wine, I learned a great deal – as one does when information is presented in such an engaging manner.”

“Thank you for the excellent tasting last night. Ben from the Bat & Bottle seems to be making a hit, doesn’t he?”

“I have attended many wine tasting evenings over the past 30 years, but I must say that last night (First Taste) was one of the best. There was a super atmosphere led by your good humour, superb knowledge and a very interesting range of wines. Thank you for all the hard work!”

“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the tasting on Thursday. So lovely to be with so many enthusiasts, and to get the benefit of all your knowledge! I look forward to many more.”

“The ‘First Taste’ evening was great – all enjoyable wines, several particularly good;  interesting and educational and in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Many thanks.”


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