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Last week was the end of London Wine Week. I had rather mixed feelings about the week this time around. A couple of bars I visited clearly weren’t that into wine, and this was just a marketing exercise. Best noted when I asked what the champagne was at one bar to be told ‘Champagne - didn’t I say that?’
Even in Flat Iron Square at HQ, I felt the offerings leant heavily on the bigger wine brands (Most Wanted and Freixenet were 1/3rd of all stalls). Props there though to Renegade & Berry Bros, who both really brought something interesting along.
Elsewhere, Cantina del Ponte got things right: loads of explanation and background to our wines and choices. A trip to Bedales was delightful as always: their rosé flight was great, as was the rather pricier flight I made up myself.
Wine has a very broad appeal. Half of all adults drink it at least once a month. But within that there’s a huge variety of drinkers.
London Wine Week felt a bit confused by its identity this year.
I got the sense it wanted to appeal to multiple different groups of wine drinker, and as such didn’t get one audience right. 'You can’t appeal to all of the people, all of the time,’ I think Bob Dylan almost said that.
At Cantina del Ponte, the first red was Blauburgunder Sudtirol Alto Adige Pinot Nero (£19.50 from Bellavita). The colour was very deep for a pinot with a floral and oaky nose, but a wonderfully fresh palate.
The second red, Molino a Vento Nerello Mascalese (£11 from Great Western Wine), was the winner here though. This was full of dark chocolate, earthy mushroom notes with well ripened and balanced dark fruits. Surprisingly light on the palate and actually quite refreshing.
Renegade, a London winery, have just released their 2018 Bacchus pet nat. This is fantastic; a gentle but persistent fizz; hints of elderflower. But not that smack in the face elderflower that’s so common with English wine. Really nicely elegant pet nat.
Finally, something from Berry Brothers. Readers will know I’m fan of their own label White Burgundy: if I had to pick one everyday, house white, this would be a strong contender.
The Berry Brothers Santa Barbara pinot is very, very good. At £26 a bottle, it’s not cheap. But this is beautifully balanced, inviting, and tastes delicious: full of brambly red fruits. Pinot lovers, take note.
Sweetness is often misunderstood. And this is because it’s easy to confuse a sweetness of fruit with actual sugary sweetness in a glass. One of the most common requests I hear is for a ‘dry white wine.’ Almost all still wine is 'dry’ in the dry-sweet scale. Some white wines can taste sweet and fruity because the aromas associated with say the melon or pear that we’re smelling, but there’s little actual sugar in there.
I was always taught that you taste sweetness on the tip of your tongue. Though it turns out this has been debunked by science. That said, having a focus area I find helps in identifying certain characteristics. If you smell sweetness, that’s likely to be a sweet & fruity aroma, rather than something sweet itself.
For a great example: try a sweet dessert or a demi-sec sparkling wine, side by side with a dry wine with fruity aromas.