No I am not talking about twitter, but rather a virtual wine tasting of Cardiff’s Mystere Wine Club (mentioned many times on this blog).
With the ongoing lockdown, external activities are extremely limited and meeting up with non household members a total non starter. As a result, the activities of the two wine tasting clubs (the Jeroboam Club in Bristol and the Mystere Wine Club in Cardiff) I am a member of have been severely curtailed.
The committee (which I am on) for the Mystere Wine Club was determined to keep the club going during the enforced social distancing hiatus and it was decided to give a virtual tasting a go.
I am a compete luddite (and old enough to know what a carbon copy is and to have used it in my working life) when it comes to tech (particularly computers) and appear to exuded an electro – magnetc field that disrupts computers at a range of about 10 feet – everyone who reads the blog will have noted that said field has completely corrupted the spell checker on the phone I write this blog on 🙄.
World War III no probs., just send me in and I can guarantee if I get close enough to their tech. it won’t work – MI6 missed a trick not recruiting me during the cold war, I can tell you. IT wrecking ball me!
Luckily the club has a committee member who is an IT whizz and he championed the idea of a virtual tasting over the web.
We also have a wine merchant member (Gilbert Viader of Viader Vintners) and he put together an online offer of two half bottles of 2007 claret for members and very kindly sorted delivery within Cardiff and the burbs.
We usually, at our “in person” tastings, taste 8 wines (sharing a bottle of each amongst all attendee), but for various reasons a tasting of this extent was deemed impractical and we decided on 2 half bottle for the virtual tasting (baby steps as they say).
I, of course, couldn’t resist adding to my order (I am a total wine shopaholic) after perusing the Viader Vintners online shop.
As a result I bought a rather nice mix of stuff from Italy (Cannonau and Vermintino from Sardinia), Portugal (Douro red) and (of course) a Rioja to add to the two Bordeaux wines for the tasting.
I set it all up in my home office, with IT sorted via one of our members that is the IT whizz. All very easy, with multi participant options such as Microsoft Zoom, Google Hangout, Google Meets, Skype (to name, but a few) and pretty much just clicking on the supplied link (even I couldnt f’ff it up).
Do make sure it is secure and you don’t put the link on web to avoid the oddballs – it shouldn’t but this did made me laugh
In terms of etiquette, with the various slurping sounds when tasting wine (and me munching on cheese and crackers), it is best to have everyone on mute bar from the relevant person talking.
We had a chairperson (on the day) who basically went around the virtual room asking each taster for their view of each of the wines. Bar from a few of us (me mainly) forgetting to put on/take off mute it worked very well.
So to the actual wines, the 2007 Bordeaux vintage was deemed quite a weird one – with fears it would be a disaster assuage (at least partially) by a late burst of sunny weather before harvest.
All around good for whites, the reds are a different matter with a bit of a mixed bagged, often (perhaps unfairly) characterised by what they lack (alcohol, ripe tannins and, many would say, aging potential) rather than what they have. It is regarded as a vintage for the drinkers rather than the investors (no bad thing that).
With the vintage viewed as one to drink rather than as a keeper, I was curious to see how the half bottles (these mature quicker than a full bottle) had fared.
We all agreed to open the bottles an hour and a half before the tasting (the majority of us did not decant the bottles – they did throw a bit of sediment so in hindsight…..) so as to have, as far as was possible, a consistent tasting experience.
First up was a Haut Medoc number from Chateau D’Agassac, located in Ludon – Médoc Commune (right at bottom and to the right on the map below).
Whilst the back label referred to a blend of 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc
the notes on the 2007 vintage on the Chateau’s website indicate no Cab. Franc and a mix of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Merlot, I am inclined to go with the website as to the Cab. Franc (i.e none), but the back label as to Merlot being the majority in the blend.
I could not find any evidence of Cab. Franc on tasting it (if any was in there it was unclear to me what it exactly brought to the party) and the Merlot was more evident than the Cab. Sauv. at least to my senses.
Decent colour to it, with it not really showing its age. Possibly a bit lighter than I would generally expect from the blend (reflective of the nature of the vintage).
From the nose, I got red fruit (strawberry and raspberry), plum and some spice (smidgen of cinnimon perhaps). It seemed to me that the Merlot was the more dominate grape here, with the Cab. Sauv. characteristics quite muted despite the amount of it in the blend (even if go by the label rather than the website info).
On the palate, there were well intergrated tannins and a touch of woodiness. Very pleasant, easy drinking stuff, if a bit short on length.
Whilst this wine is past its recommended drinking window, I though it was drinking surprisingly well and think it will continue to do so for a couple more years at least.
Not the most complex of wines, but good value for money for what it is.
On the food pairing front, I think this would go well with most meats, although I would say it is better suited to the lighter ones (veal and pork).
Next up was a Margaux number from Chateau Kirwan
located in the south of Margaux Commune (look for “CANTENAC” on map below and it is to the right of it).
In theory, this wine should have been a significant step up in class from the D’ Agassac with it being a Third Growth wine.
The blend is 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 13% Carbernet Franc and 12% Petit Verdot and it had a much darker colour than the D’Agassac
On the nose it had those classic blackcurrant, pencil lead and cedar aromas that comes from the dominance of Cab. Sauv. in the blend, but also some very pleasing perfumed notes (violets), with the Petit Verdot really coming through on the nose.
On the palate, it was a lovely smooth, almost velvety, number – with well integrated silky tannins. There was loads of dark fruit, as well as a touch of vanilla spice. Good length on this wine which lingered nicely on the palate.
Really lovely wine that is drinking beautifully now. I would pair it, personally, with lamb, duck or pigeon.
Price: Around £44 for a 75cl bottle (Viader Vintners have magnums in stock of the 2007 vintage, as well as other more vaunted vintages including the excellent 2009 vintage).
I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed these two wines given the mixed press that the 2007 Bordeaux vintage got.
Both wines were a pleasure to drink, but the clear winner (a class act) was the Chateau Kirwan.
Unsurprisingly it got everyones vote as the wine of the night.
Next up we, that is the Mystere Wine Club, are planning (at the beginning of May) a repeat virtual tasting (seems no chance of release anytime soon) with a run of sauternes from Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey (2001, 2003 and 2005 – again in halves).
Our first online tasting was a great success, being great fun and easy to do if you have a PC at home or even on a mobile or tablet. It was also nice to check in with the crew, albeit virtually, for a chat.
On a wider note if you are running low on wine, an essential item after all, why not buy from a local indie rather than a supermarket. Most will deliver and need the business more than the supermarkets.
Jancis Robinson has a very useful list on her website, including for Wales, of places that are delivering during the lockdown.
To these I would add Viader Vintners the Bottle Shops (Roath and Penarth – check their Twitter feed for details, as they are doing an interesting surprise offering), Curado Bar (check their twitter feed and email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details), Wrights (Carmarthen) and Chesters (Abergavenny) – am sure are many more.
Below are wines I have purchased from some of these establishmemts.
Good to support local businesses at the moment and that should include your local wine merchant.