Wine Car Boot

Mr Smith goes to spend the afternoon at a car boot sale, but not like any other boot sale you have seen.  Several hours talking to great and knowledgeable people, tasting wine and making new discoveries.  Find out about this unique event…

Vintage Wine Festival

A spring afternoon brought around the Laithwaites/Sunday Times annual Vintage Wine Festival.   I have been meaning to go to this in the past but never had chance, but I know it will not be the last time I go.

I am having building and decorating work done in the house and the plasters were ion on that day, so a perfect day to be out.  I left home and headed for the station and spent the hour on the train working out which stalls I wanted to go to and which wines to try.
There were over 250 wines to try, so a plan was needed in terms of what to try, rather than a random approach.  Basically, what I was going to try and do were only taste wines that I had no had before and to try anything different, in terms of styles or grapes that I had not head or in some cases heard of!
By the time I arrived in to London Bridge I had a very good selection I wanted to try.  After a short still out of the station and on to the Bridge I could see quite a big queue waiting outside the venue.  The festival was at Old Billingsgate, Lower Thames Street, so I knew I would be able to see it on the walk over the bridge.  Got to confess my heart sank a little as it looked very long, but I got there and joined the back of it.  The good news is that they were letting people in a little early and within 5 minutes I was inside.
I was greeted by a very big space with lots of market type stalls.  My first port of call was to the little ticket desk to sign up for one of the tasting events.  I went for the Riedel – Power of the Glass Session, more on that in a bit.
Then it was off around the stalls.  They were all sorted in terms of Countries and regions.  I picked up my tasting glass and headed to France.  I will list at the bottom all of the wines I tried and my score out of 10 for them.  This is all subjective and only my opinion.
As I carried on going round I was conscious that I had the Riedel session and also entry to the Fine Wine Room, so I was trying to pace myself about, after all the first taste was at 11 am.
After a few very good and interesting tasters I headed to the Riedel session.  Basically, this was to try and demonstrate the difference a glass can make on the enjoyment of a wine.  Riedel do varietal specific glasses and I have some of their ‘O’ range so was interested to see whether or not a glass can make a difference.  This was the only tasting session where there was a charge, which was £20, but for that you got 3 red wine glasses from their Vinum XL range.
After a brief intro about Riedel we picked up the glasses and learnt more about them and as they were lead crystal they also make a beautiful sound when tapped.  All sounding different and I did think you could play a tune on a good selection of them.
Anyway, on to the wine.  We had 2 different ones to try and the basic principal was to try one in the correct glass and then transfer to another one to see the difference.  I have to say there was quite a difference, a lot of it being on the nose, but also on the palette.  The palette element is due to the shape of the top of the glass and the way it delivers it in to the mouth.  When we tried the right wine in the wrong glass you could tell a difference and I expect to a wine buff the difference would be really large and you might not want to drink it.  To me, it was an obvious difference, but not one where I would send the wine back, although the enjoyment would not be as high if it had been in the right glass.
Following on from that session I headed to the Fine Wine.  Again this was extra (bought in advance), but it was well worth it.  Their were wines that I would never be able to try under normal conditions so was a great experience.  Put it this way I started with a Pol Roger 2002 Blanc de Blancs and the next stall was Bollinger and further round was one from Lafite.
The big lesson I learnt was that at the moment my palette is not sophisticated enough to pick up the complexities of some of the French wines, but it was great tasting them.  I did however fall in love with a lovely Penfolds Shiraz, which was my sort of wine, full of flavour, fruit and some oomph!  I knew I prefer New World wine but that confirmed it, but having said that I am trying to educate my palette and to appreciate the Old World ones more as well.  At this point I will say that I liked all of the Old World wines, but the New World blew me away.
36 different drinks tasted!  If you get to the end of the list hopefully you will see that I tried lots of different things and pretty much did a world tour in 3 1/2 hours

Waiting to go in
Just part of the show
Entrance to the Fine Wine Room
The tasting glass
Riedel tasting session – Vinum XL glasses
Rose Champagne anyone?
Showing off more of the show
The Fine Wine Room
This is the list and a few comments where I could note them.  Wines in order of tasting:

  • Loire – Domaine Michel Thomas Silex 2012 – Sancerre.  Lovely nose, lightly fruity – 6
  • Le Chai au Quai – La Voute 2012, vin de France – Chardonnay.  Very Chardonnay on the nose and great to drink – 7
  • Sussex – Ridgeview Estate – South Ridge Blanc de Blancs 2010 – Fizz on the tongue, but not in the glass – 5
  • Champagne – Laithwaite Brut Premier Cru – Biscuity toastie on the nose, limited fizz – 6
  • Now for Something Completely Different – Tbilvino Saperavi 2011, Kakhetti – Plums, very smooth, intriguing and different – 7 – I think this is this the one I would say was best value for money
  • Riedel Session – Hurtadao Pinot Noir Reserva 2011 – Casablanca – 6
  • Riedel Session – Vina Tarapaca – Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – Maipo Valley – 7
The following were from the Fine Wine Room
  • Champagne – Champagne Pol Roger Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2002 – biscuity, creamy and very lush!  – 9 My best fizz of the show
  • Champagne – Champagne Pol Roger Vintage Rose 2004 – very smooth, not like any other Rose, as in I could easily drink bottle of it – 7
  • Champagne – Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee – NV – 7
  • Champagne – Champagne Bollinger Brut Rose – 8
  • Champagne – Bollinger La Grande Annee 2004 – 8
  • Loire – Domaine Alphonse Mellot Generation 2012 – Sancerre – First taste was just WOW – 8.5
  • Loire – Domaine Alphonse Mellot La Moussiere Rouge 2001 – Sancerre – My first red Sancerre, Old World Pinot Noir, quite thin & light colour  – 7
  • Maison Joseph Drouhin 2011, Cotes de Beaune – 6
  • Maison Joseph Drouhin 2011, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru – 7
  • Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix Chateau Bourgneuf 2006, Pomerol – 8
  • Maison M Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Blanc 2011, Hermitage – Favourite white of the show – 9
  • Maison M Chapoutier Monier de La Sizeranne 2011, Hermitage – A wine to taste properly, not slurp!  7.5
  • Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) – Chateau d’Aussières 2009, Corbieres – 8
  • Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) – Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990, Pauillac AOC, 1er Grand Cru Classe – Empty bottle alone worth over £200, full bottle is in 4 figures!  Amazing nose but good for me I did not think was best in show, would be an expensive habit!  – 8
  • Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) – Chateau Rieussec 2007, Sauternes AOC 1er GRand Cru Classe – Amazing balanced Sauternes, lovely and syrupy not over sweet – 9
  • Marchesi Antinori, Antinori Gervaro della Sala Umbria 2011 – 90% Chardonnay – 8
  • Marchesi Antinori, Antinori Tignanello 2010, Toscana IGT – Needs ageing – 7
  • Sabinares y Vinas – Sabinaras Blanco de Guarda 2011, Arlanza DO – 9
  • Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2012, Coonawarra – Very good 7.5
  • Penfolds Bin 138 2012, Barossa – Better – 8
  • Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2009, South Australia – 9.5 – Best in show for me.  Found out there are a few bottles left, but a bit beyond my wallet, but a 2010 is on it’s way which is meant to be even better (with ageing)
  • Ridge Estate Cabernet Merlot 2010, Santa Cruz – Nothing wrong with it but average to me – 5.5
  • Ridge Monte Bello 2010, Santa Cruz – Questions around the value for money on this, £81 per bottle.  Based on VFM – 7
So that was the end of the Fine Wine Room so back to the others:
  • Pillitteri Estates Vidal Icewine 2012, Niagra on the Lake VQA
  • Orchard Pig Cider – Truffler – 8
  • Weingut Stift Gottweig Gruner Veltliner Gottweiger Berg 2012, Kremsatl DAC – 7
  • Naegele Fass No.98 Riesling Trocken 2013, Pflaz Qualitatswein – 8
New Zealand
  • Hunter’s Gewurztraminer 2011, Marlborough – 9
South Africa
  • Bergsig – The Bulldozer Pinotage 2013, Breedekloof WO – Stunningly good Pinotage, made me think of a curry all the way home.  This is my favourite wine type with a curry.  I got this taster just as they said that was time! – 8.5

Wine Tasting with the ‘Younger Mrs Smith’

It is time to introduce the latest Mrs Smith.  Hopefully you will realise by now that the Mrs Smith’s are friends that I socialise with and have common interests.  The latest member of the Mrs Smith’s club joined me on a wine tasting a few weeks ago.

I had to come up with a name for this Mrs Smith so that she can be distinguished from the other ones, ‘The Mrs Smith’, ‘Mrs Smith No 2’ and ‘The Other Mrs Smith’.  Now this took some debate with this Mrs Smith, but after some debate we agreed on the ‘Younger Mrs Smith’.  Originally she wanted to be the Young Mrs Smith but that would then make it tricky if I shared any adventures with someone younger than her,  so we plumped for the Younger Mrs Smith.  Keep an eye out for future adventures with her.

So this was an evening of wine tasting at the New Street Wine Shop.  It was under the heading of the Big Smoke Wine Tasting where wines would be paired with smoked food.  This was something I was interested to find out about as it is not easy to find a good wine to go with smoked food.

The evening started in typical Mr Smith style.  I was booked in to the Town Hall Hotel, as normal, and agreed to meet Mrs Smith near to Liverpool Street Station, but typically she was running late due to work.  This is a common theme with my Mrs Smith’s.  The original plan was to meet up and have a drink first, but we did not have time for that in the end so headed off to the venue.  We were early, but it was cold so wanted to get inside.

They were not quite ready, but that was fine as we then had time to settle in and have a catch up on lots of things that had been happening before anyone else arrived.

Eventually everyone turned up and the tasting began.  I did not have my camera with me so just snapped a few things on the iPhone.  The pictures below are not very good but give an idea of what we had.

To start with we had some Smoked Haddock with a Quail Egg which was served with a de Devaux` La Cuvée  Devaux champagne.  There is no picture of this as both of us loved the food and the champagne even more and I forgot to take one.  This was a very good start to the tasting.

This was then followed by a dish of Cod Roe with a 2012 Rioja Blanco  Izadi, La Rioja from Spain.  I only told Mrs Smith what cod roe is after she ate it.  Mrs Smith had not had a white Rioja before so that was a new experience.

Following hard on the heels was some delicious Smoked Salmon with a 2011 Chardonnay, Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay from New Zealand, which I thought was delicious.  At this stage Mrs Smith was still favouring the Champagne, she has expensive taste 🙂

Now we moved on to what was going to be challenging and new for Mrs Smith, these were the red wines.  In the time I have known her I have never seen her drink red, mainly for vanity as it stains the teeth!  But this night she was up for trying anything.  Along came the dish of Pork with a Smoked Apple Sauce served with a 2011 Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir, De Loach from California.  To my delight Mrs Smith was happy to drink this and I loved it, to the point I bought a bottle at the end of the evening.

The final element of the tasting was some lovely smoked chicken which came along with a Barolo, 2012 Dolcetto d`Alba G.D. Vajra, Piemonte, ITALY

At the end of the drinking we compared what we thought was the best, which is all down to personal taste as all the wines were good.  Not surprisingly Mrs Smith plumped for the Champagne and I was split between the Champagne and Pinot Noir.  The biggest pleasure of the evening for me was to see Mrs Smith try different things, both food and wine, and enjoy them.

After the wine and food it was time to head off, but keeping up with the traditions of the Mrs Smiths we had to do something else and as normal we headed back to the hotel.  I do quite like showing it off and I also had some nice wine in the room which needed to be drank.  We headed back to the hotel, I showed Mrs Smith round and then we chilled out with a nice glass of wine to end a very good evening.  If anyone is wondering it was a nice glass of white wine and the Younger Mrs Smith then headed off home.

Before the night Mrs Smith did not really know much about wine but I think this is the start of her trying more and different things, in terms of wine anyway.

Flight Club

Just for clarity on the title, it is Flight Club and not Fight Club, just in case you were wondering.

Well, what is Flight Club?  It is an event hosted by @Legslonglength or more commonly known as Ruth.  I have met Ruth a few times at the various StreetFeast events under her alter ego of @StreetVinWine

I had heard of Flight Club on twitter but received an email from Rotary to advise there was an event being held there in November 2013 (I know a little behind with the post), so I instantly emailed Mrs Smith to see if she was free and luckily she was.  So tickets purchased.

I did not really know what to expect,  but I knew that we were going to be tasting wines from Italy, in Flights (hence the name) and the theme was wines from the Top, Middle or Bottom of Italy.

On the evening of the event I headed down to Rotary Room, deliberately early as both myself and Mrs Smith needed to have a catch up and discuss a few big things in life, so I settled in with a glass of wine to wait for her to arrive.  Rotary Room was a unique location and I had to wait for Mrs Smith to call me so I could show her the way to this wonderful hidden bar.  I always loved the look on peoples faces as I took them through a private door and down a fire escape to find the bar, not sure if they believed there was a bar down there or not.

Rotary Room – Just arrived and waiting for Mrs Smith

Anyway, once arrived we sat down with a glass of wine and put the world to rights.

Flight Club all set up and just waiting for the guests

After all the other guests arrived (about 18 or so) we sat around the tables with 6 glasses lined up in front of us, always a good sign.  3 for white and 3 or red.  Ruth explained that we would be tasting 1 glass of red and white from the Top of Italy, the Middle and the Bottom.  The flights were designed to highlight the differences in the areas, with their different climates and styles.

The wines poured add ready to be tasted – Mrs Smith managing not to be in a picture again 🙂

We also had a lesson in tasting and were offered a spittoon if needed, but thankfully no one wanted one, then or at any time in the evening, everyone swallowed.

So, with myself and Mrs Smith on a table with 4 other women, never a bad thing to be the only man with 5 women, the tasting began.

We had a sheet of paper that told us the name/producer of the wine and the year.  We then had to make a judgement of whether it came from the Top, Middle or Bottom, along with a guess on the price of a bottle.

So we tasted, we sipped, we compared and considered all 3 whites.  There was plenty of banter on our table with everyone suggesting what they could taste and what they thought, but then it was down  to the serious (well not really but we all wanted to see our own individual thoughts) ideas on where they were from and how much.

There was one that surprised us all on the table as we all agreed that it tasted a bit like weak ribena, which was a shock for a white, but definitely not a bad thing and the wine was very nice and this in fact turned out to be the favourite of the evening for Mrs Smith.

We also had a few lovely nibbles of meats and cheeses and then hit the reds with more tasting, sipping and comparing.  I noted that one of the reds went amazingly well with the salami we had, which was a Barbera 2010.

So after all that lovely tasting it was time to find out how we did.

Very surprisingly both myself and Mrs Smith pretty much agreed on where we thought the wines came from, although disagreed on some of the pricing.  I got off to a flyer guessing that the first white one, a Verdicchio, was from the middle of Italy and  I was not far out on the pricing with only a slight over estimation.  Sadly the next 2 whites I got the wrong way round, thinking the bottom was the top, but price guessing was not too far out.

Now for the red results, the first 2 I got wrong thinking the one from the middle was from the top and vice versa, but I redeemed myself with the last one and got it right with the bottom.  Then there was the pricing, now I normally drink red and thought I might be OK with the pricing, but was way out on 2 of them, thinking 1 was worth £12 but it sells for between £20-£24 and the other I thought was £23.50 but it was only £10.70.  I actually thought that was my favourite wine to taste, 1952, so a couple of days later I managed to go and pick up a bottle for myself.

You may note I have not yet mentioned the pricing for the other bottle of red, well, I got it spot on at £16 and got a tick from Ruth for guessing it, and yes it was a guess and no knowledge.

The knowledge element is something I am going to try and focus on this year and actually learn to taste and appreciate wine rather than just drink it!

After the tasting was done myself and Mrs Smith, plus the 4 others on my table, all ordered food and more wine and continued to enjoy the evening and eventually it was just myself and Mrs Smith left and eventually even we had to head off in our separate directions.

It was a great night out tasting wines that I would never have had before and a very good way to spend an evening.  I have been keeping an eye out for any more Flight Clubs and have just signed up to go to another one at the end of January, this time all about English Sparkling Wine from Nyetimber.  I am already looking forward to it and Mrs Smith emailed back straight away to confirm she will be coming as well, so another Flight Club adventure with Mrs Smith.