Wine Tasting, is it Hard Work? A friend asked me, “How was your day?”, I replied that I was exhausted having been tasting wines from 10 o’clock in the morning until 3pm in the afternoon. He laughed and said somewhat sarcastically, “sounds like really hard work”. Actually wine tasting is hard work. To do it properly it requires preparation, concentration, stamina and practise.
Recently I was in London, a great place to find the best wines in the world, to taste the wines of two of the UK’s leading wine importers. I met with David Gleave MW of Liberty Wines and John Pepper MW of Enotria&Co to go through their wines. I have known these Masters of Wine for many years and it is always interesting and fun to talk about wine and what is happening in their businesses.
In a typical portfolio tasting there will be around one hundred producers from around the world. I look for a diverse range from each country that will give me a perspective when assessing quality, style and value. That is why it is important to prepare the tasting beforehand to keep it focussed.
During a typical day I will taste around 80 to 100 wines. By mid afternoon my concentration has gone and palate is exhausted and longer picking up particular flavours to give a fair evaluation. However, I discovered several new gems which makes it all worth while.
What were the highlights of the wines I tasted?
I found some really good Riesling from New Zealand. Normally we think of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from New Zealand but the Rieslings I tasted were superb. Sicily is producing some excellent wines made from Grillo and Fiano, two indigenous white grape varieties and the Nero D’Avola, all from Mandrarossa winery in the south of the island. It is not easy to find good affordable claret, however, I did like the Chateau Mahon-Laville Bordeaux Superiur. Cannonball Wines Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa in California were notably good. I thought the Australian wines from Henschke and Fowles Wine were really good, hopefully it won’t be long before we can taste them here in Valencia.
Tasting is not swallowing but I did make an exception for the superb Domaine Borgeot Puligny-Montrachet Village and Charles Heidieck 1995 Blanc des Millénaires Champagne. Not wines that you get to enjoy everyday.
Events such as these are also a great opportunity to catch up on what is going on by speaking with winery owners and winemakers about their projects and hear the latest news different parts of the world. Which wines are in fashion, consumer trends in particular markets, stylist changes and learning about new varieties of grapes coming on stream.
The world of wine is constantly evolving and it exciting to learn something new and I look forward to sharing this information with you.
All in a day’s work buying wine.