Tamlyn Currin of Surrey writes: Brad and I would like to thank you for a delightful evening on Thursday 18 may [the South Hampstead Vietnam World Challenge wine tasting].
From the start, the evocative smell (faintly sweaty, traces of socks and trainers) of the gymnasium was strangely familiar and welcoming; a wonderful contrast to the event at hand. We thoroughly enjoyed the wines, the interesting talk, the discussions and the smiliest sommeliers I have ever been served by.
I hope the World Challenge team raised lots of money - please will you post the results! If they have a website tracking their trip, it would be lovely to see how they fare.
Please thank the World Challenge Ladies on our behalf, and a huge thank you to you for the invitation.
It was a great pleasure for me to meet the Currins and other jancisrobinson.com habitués last Thursday night at the fundraising wine tasting that was held in the gym of South Hampstead High School to raise funds for a challenging, educational trip to Vietnam planned by 15 girls or 15 and 16 for the summer of 2007. Thanks to a great deal of hard work on the part of the girls, wines generously donated by the retailers listed below, glasses loaned by Majestic, and first class unpasteurised cheeses offered by Patricia Michaelson of La Fromagerie, we raised a total of £3,200 which is certainly more than the girls expected. As Tamlyn says, the smiling teenage sommeliers added greatly to the event and valiantly claimed that although they didn't taste a drop, they enjoyed listening to my talk about the individual wines and general trends in the world of wine – not least the issue of stoppers.
This was the one disappointing aspect. All of the wines except the last two reds (which were screwcapped) and the Santorini which had a natural cork, were stoppered by plastic corks. This meant that we ended up at this charitable fundraising event having to pour whole bottles of surplus wine away because, once opened (with great difficulty) it was impossible to re-stopper those with synthetic corks. What a waste!
We took a straw poll of favourite wines and the most popular were the Nord Sud Viognier (a previous wine of the week) and the Yering Frog Shiraz/Viognier. The wines we tasted were:
Fiano di Sicilia 2005 Cantine Settesoli, Sicily 15 Drink 2006
Majestic £4.99, or £3.99 if any two bottles of Italian wine are bought
Campanian grape variety obviously now flourishing in western Sicily (see also Planeta). Masses of flavour and interest for the price but much more body than acidity – to be drunk this summer.
Sigalas Assyrtiko 2004 Santorini, Greece 17 Drink 2006-07
Vickbar Wines http://www.vickbarwines.co.uk £9.99
Very sleek, dense, minerally lemon notes. The volcanic island makes its present felt with a bite on the finish.
Gobelsburger Grüner Veltliner 2005 Kamptal, Austria 15.5 Drink 2006
The low temperature fermentation aromas still dominate the fruit but GV dill pickle aromas are beginning to emerge. A good price ofr Austria's signature grape variety.
Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2004 Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc 16.5 Drink 2006
Great value for a wine with more than a hint of Condrieu depth on the mid palate and finish. Intense, classic aromas of blossom and dried apricot.
No benefit in keeping this though.
Saumur Rouge 2005 Reserve des Vignerons, Loire 15 Drink 2006-07
Majestic £4.99, or £4.49 if two bottles are bought
The 2005 vintage ripeness is much in evidence in this plump and satisfying co-op-produced Cabernet Franc. A useful wine to serve chilled in summer. Bracing and crunchy.
Gran Lopez Garnacha/Tempranillo 2004 Campo de Borja, Spain 15.5 Drink 2006
Waitrose are about to move on to the 2005 but this is still very much alive and kicking. A big, spicy barbecue wine.
Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2005 Coastal Region, South Africa 16.5 Drink 2006-07
I loved this wine, more than most tasters I think. Intense and savoury leather and liquorice notes and a much deeper, more stable-looking colour than previous vintages. The diffusion line of Syrah pioneer Marc Kent at Boekenhoutskloof (to which Brad Currin gave me a pronunciation guide).
Yering Frog Shiraz/Viognier 2005 Yarra Valley, Australia 16 Drink 2006-08
Majestic £6.99, or £5.99 if two bottles are bought
Tom Carson's take on the Côte Rôtie recipe was much enjoyed by the crowd. I found it a little less seductive than previously but there's no shortage of beef. Not sure I agree with the back label that it will last seven or eight years though.
With very, very many thanks to everyone involved with this. I forgive the father who gave an unseemly triumphalist yelp on learning that he'd won the Cristal 1996 in the raffle. I believe the girls will be tracking their progress online next summer (not this) and will try to remember to supply the link.