I went to the most extraordinary tasting in Vintners' Hall, London, last Thursday evening, organised by Caspar Bowes of Bowes Wine on behalf of his Goldman Sachs brother-in-law's pet charity Empower, which 'supports local organisations in EM nations that provide at-risk youth with the tools and resources they need to lead healthy and productive lives'. (The picture is from their website.)
Caspar Bowes runs something called The Daily Drinker, whose aim is to encourage wine drinkers to experiment, so experiment we did. The major theme was a blind tasting of a couple of wines apiece from the BRICS nations, with participants trying to identify which country each pair came from. Not surprisingly, no one (including me) guessed 100% correctly, but a Purple pager was one of those whose name I picked out of an ice bucket as having identified the origins of three of the five pairs correctly.
We were greeted by some extremely well-made Brazilian fizz from Cave Geisse, which is providing the first wine in my forthcoming tasting at WineFuture Hong Kong. We were then treated/subjected to the blind tasting before moving on to a tasting of some of The Daily Drinker's current finds - including a rather toothsome Romanian red made from the relatively rare new crossing Novac. No one seemed to know much about Novac and I crossed my fingers very tightly until I got back to my laptop to check that we had included it in our forthcoming grape book. We have, I'm delighted to say.
Other particularly good wines, I thought, included the Verus Slovenian Pinot Gris, the Greek Moschofilero and the 2008 Prieto Picudo.
I have never been to a tasting of wines from such a wide array of unusual sources before and salute Caspar Bowes for all the work involved in getting them in the same room in time. I later learnt that immediately after the tasting he climbed in hs car and drove 300 miles through the night so that he could spend the next day fishing in Northumberland. He was rewarded by a 15lb salmon.
WINES ON ARRIVAL
NV Gran Reserva 130 Brut, Casa Valduga, Brazil
2006 Brut Metodo Tradicional, Cave Geisse, Brazil
BRICS BLIND TASTING
2009 Dadivas Chardonnay, Lidio Carraro
2008 Elos Touriga Nacional/Tannat, Lidio Carraro
2010 Chardonnay, Fanagoria
2010 Saperavi, Fanagoria
2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Sula Vineyards
2008 Cabernet Shiraz La Reserve, Grover Wines
2010 Special Reserve Chardonnay, Helan Mountain (Pernod Ricard own this operation)
2010 Classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Helan Mountain
2008 Roulette Blanc, Lammershoek
2007 Syrah/Carignan/Grenache, Lammershoek
THE DAILY DRINKER TASTING
2009 Seyval Blanc, A'Becketts Vineyard, Wiltshire, England £8.25
2008 Albillo Vina Centenaria, Ermita del Conde, Castilla y Leon, Spain £9.50
2009 Mantinia Nassiakos (Moschofilero), Semeli, Attica, Greece £11.50
2009 Roero Arneis Serra Lupini, Negro & Figli, Piedmont, Italy £12.50
2009 Pinot Gris, Verus, Podravje, Slovenia £12.50
2009 Zweigelt, Weingut Sepp Moser, Neusiedlersee, Austria £8.50
2008 Novac, Prince Stirbey, Dragasani, Romania £12.50
2010 Tannat Maduro, Vinos de Lucca, El Colorado, Uruguay £9.50
2008 Prieto Picudo Estay, Castilla y Leon, Spain £12
2008 Mavrud Vinica, Zagreus Winery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria £10.50