The people's choice...
As 2019 draws to a close we reflect on our wine tastings over the year and bring you a round up of the 5 most popular wines with the public of Swindon.
In 5th place..... Lidl Sparkling New Zealand Wine (£8.99)
An unexpected hit of the night at our New Zealand tasting in February! The guests were welcomed with an unusual fizz - made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Unlike most sparkling wines that have a second fermentation in a tank or bottle, this is made using the aeration method, where bubbles are simply "injected" into the base wine.
Some guests noted that the bubbles didn't last very long, but that was a reason to drink it faster. Generally the consensus was that this was a fantastic wine for a great price, and many would buy again.
In 4th place.....Incanta Pinot Noir, Romania, Majestic Wine, £5.99
From our "Pinot Noir from around the world" event in August, we blind tasted pinot noir wines from both old and new world countries. The guests had no idea where they were from or what the price was until they had given their verdict.
Incanta was the run away winner of the night. This wine is from the winery Cramele Recas, which was founded by Bristol born Philip Cox. He moved to Romania 30 years ago with his Romanian wife and started a boutique winery.
This business has now grown into the third largest wine producing business in Romania where he churns out 65 different wines including Incanta Pinot Noir.
There was some criticism of the label, with a taster pointing out it made the wine look cheap. However, this wine was a real hit with the tasters, bursting with flavours of redcurrants, raspberry and jam. They raved about the wine even before the price tag was revealed.
Romania is off the beaten track in terms of wine production and this example would cost at least twice the price if Romania wasn’t still under the wine radar.
Enjoy it before others discover it!!
In 3rd place, Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley California, £7 Asda
At "The judgement of Paris" tasting in April, we blind tasted a range of Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California, and equivilent priced examples from Bordeaux's left bank.
Beringer are the oldest continually operating winery in America, and I was hesitant in serving such a budget wine after a pricier Frei Brothers Cabernet, which I knew was likely to score well.
I needn't have worried, with the guests becoming noticeably more animated when tasting this wine, and it became the first wine of the night to achieve top scores of 5 out of 5. Five guests scored it a five, with a further eleven guests scoring 4 or higher.
A surprise hit of the night, which is what I love most about blind tasting. At just £7, it was the cheapest bottle being served.
In 2nd place.....Ridgeview English Sparkling wine. Waitrose, £28.99
At the Festive Fizz tasting in October, I was delighted that the blind taste paid off, with English Sparkling wine coming out on top.
From the chalky soils of Sussex-based Ridgeview, this English sparkling wine is a double silver medal winner - both at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. and the Decanter World awards.
Ridgeview has been operating for around 20 years and is still very much a family business, as it was when it started. This wine is served at Buckingham Palace state dinners and at 10 Downing Street, so our tasters were in good company.
The colour of wine when poured, and the finesse of bubbles brought compliments from the tasters immediately.
"Oooh, this is better than the last one. It's very pleasant"
"Yes, I prefer this to the previous two"
"It's very drinkable. The bubbles are going up in a straight line too"
"It has fine delicate bubbles, and is very dry"
"It tasted expensive on the first sip but I've just had some goats cheese and that seems to have ruined the taste of the wine"
It's heavy and has a strong taste - I think it's champagne"
"It's got that distinctive taste of a quality sparkling wine"
At the end of the night, this was the favourite wine of 47% of the attendees, making it the winning sparkling wine of the festive fizz session, and gains a second place for 2019.
And the winner is....Trinity Hills Syrah (Hawkes Bay), 2016, Wine Society £13.50
At our New Zealand wine and cheese evening in February, we had tasters with an affinity for delicious full bodied red wines, and many fell in love with this Syrah.
Trinity Hill winery is located in the temperate climate area of Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s North Island. It was founded in the 1990s by a syndicate including accomplished New Zealand winemaker John Hancock and Robert and Robyn Wilson (owners of London’s Bleeding Heart and The Don restaurants).
Like the Mission Estate wine that was tasted earlier in the evening, the Trinity Hill vineyards are in the Gimblett Road district, recognised as one of Hawke’s Bay’s very best vine growing areas for both red and white grapes thanks to its gravely soils. The dry hot winds from the coast also help to give a long growing season, which the full bodied grapes need. Here, the winemaking team produces a portfolio of wines that stand out for their drinkability and fruit intensity rather than power.
A big hit! This black-pepper-scented New Zealand syrah was warmly received, and guests commented on the fresh acidity and cassis / blackberry flavours. "It's got some good spice, and a lovely long finish." was the conclusion.