My personal life, professional life and wine life have been running on a quasi-parallel course of ups and downs. In the former Mr Bouquet and I have decided to sell our flat so we’ve been knee deep in DIY and wretched mess everywhere. The triumph of Mr B’s handy work was gazumped 3 days later by some scum breaking into our building and ransacking the flat upstairs. The relief that our flat was safe and the feeling that fate had dealt us a ‘good time to move on’ hand was erased during our first house viewings which was as shoulder slumping as calculating the value of the wine in a £5 bottle; you’re paying for everyone else to make money and all you’re left with is a filthy headache.
While all this has been going on, I was having a Miss Bouquet high up in Manchester where I held my biggest wine tasting to date for the Chartered Institute of Taxation where I took 85 thirsty number crunchers through the Kate and William of the wine world: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Wait for it….
1. They’re intriguing
2. Like Kate they have good taste
3. Like William they have strong DNA
4. They’re versatile, appealing, they travel the world
And my favourite…..
5. They’re admired by many and are as popular when they’re together as they are when they’re apart
Returning to London the very next day I was greeted with the news that Ian Harris from the WSET was standing down as Chair of National Wine Month. This news received just a few days after the board of advisors had met to discuss the event’s future and I had been invited back to discuss my ideas of bringing the amazing talents of the UK wine blogging community into the centre stage of the initiative’s second year.
And while the future of National Wine Month looks increasingly uncertain the wine tastings I’ve been to lately haven’t done much to tip the scales either way. At Oddbins in Clapham the other week Mr Bouquet and I tasted our way through some of the reincarnates new range. The Little Yering Chardonnay 2009 from Victoria, Australia was excellent from their ‘pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth’ trio, at £8.50 the likes of which should be served by the glass in pubs and bars around the country to restore our faith in Aussie Chardonnay. Disappointingly though the all-over-the-place nature of the tasting itself accompanied by an excel spreadsheet of the store’s entire range rather than the snapshot of wines that was open to taste leaves me with little time to decipher much more of what I tasted for you now and fills me with the same dread as the thought of navigating around the centre of Manchester sans Tom-Tom.
Then there was the wine tasting at Liberty. Forget whose wine tasting it was. The tasting was at Liberty AND it was on a Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to shop stop me. And my credit card is witness to the happy faces I hope to see on Christmas day having combined the journey to the tasting on the third floor with my first round of Christmas shopping! The delightfully plush and intimate surroundings set the standards high for the wines as did the tasting sheet which matched the order and detail of the 40 wines in the room.
As I wandered around the range though I found myself searching for some wine descriptors hidden deep in the darkness of my minds vocabulary: singed hair, frankfurters, poster paint, olbas-oil , toffifee, freshly burnt toast….. and Groupon. I know, I know, I should wash my mouth out. And while there were some wines there whose success may only lie in them being given away there was one that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Coltbridge Reserva Chardonnay 2010 from Eden Valley in South Australia, its turquoise glass bottle singled it out for class before I’d even tasted its lightly oaked, autumn apple and custard goodness. I don’t know the ins and outs of the deal Virgin Wines are working on but if this wine is put on Groupon then I’ll be the first in the online queue and the rest of my relatives will be safe in the knowledge of what they’ll be getting for Christmas!