I review two new English wines this week in Taste, this week. One of which, I will be giving away a bottle of thanks to the team at Nyetimber (who you can follow on Twitter). The competition will go live this week and run for seven days. As an existing reader you will be first to be invited.
It’s London Wine Week this week: a time when dozens of London’s wine bars and restaurants put together special tasting flights for you to enjoy. Run by Drunk Up London, it’s historically been more trade-focused but is open to anyone for free this year.
Last year, it was perfectly timed for me. I’d just finished the WSET, just started this email, and then London Wine Week comes along. The wine world is a generous place. It’s full of people driven by a love for wine, and if you show some interest then that curiosity is always rewarded. Learn this week focuses on how to make the most of a week like this.
Champagne and sparkling wines are typically recognised as being very dry today, though historically were far sweeter. Nyetimber have released the Nyetimber Cuvee Chérie (£37.50 at Fortnum & Mason), a demi-sec sparkling made from 100% chardonnay. On the nose, there’s the warm toasty notes, with a lively lemon aroma. Then you taste it and it takes you by surprise: the sweetness comes through and brings a wonderful roundness to the the palate. This would go perfectly in place of dessert wine after a meal with something sweet.
Biddenden have put together a special edition gamay noir for 2019 thanks to the bumper 2018 harvest (£15.50). We drank this chilled and it was the perfect summer red. Very pleasant on the nose. There’s a dark, earthy, wintriness about this - as to be expected with English reds - but this is much fresher than most and feels like a real nod to Beaujolais Nouveau. Buy a bottle and head to the park, you won’t be disappointed.
How to do London Wine Week: A beginners guide
Sign up for a pass on the website, then download the app. The app can be temperamental, so it’s worth doing this in advance rather than at a bar on the day as it has a habit of freezing sometimes.
Most places will offer small glasses as part of their flight. This means that you can usually try a couple of flights and have only had the equivalent of a couple of small glasses of wine. Plan to do a couple of bars near each other.
Sit and ask the bartender about their wines. They’ve been chosen - in most places - to highlight something they love about their wine lists. So have the conversation, enquire and learn as much as you can.
Take notes! For general consumers, there’s not loads of times you’ll get to taste flights like this: so take advantage. Use it to piece together some blanks.
Never had gamay from around the world? Find a gamay tasting.
Wanted to get deep into Italian whites? There’s probably something for you.
Sit at the bar if you can. This works less well if you’re in a group, but if you’re one or two, sit at the bar so you can continue the conversation while you’re at the bar. Last year, I was given more than a few extra tastes of different things this way.
If you’re holding off for the party at Flat Iron Square: go early. It became incredibly busy last year on the Friday that it was almost impossible to get to a bar.
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