Drinking Diaries: Spring Wine Tasting

Taking a departure from our usual gin ensemble, we’ll instead delve into the refined world of wine. Believe it or not, this is the first wine tasting I’ve actually ever attended at Magnum Wine Shop, so it’s quite an exciting occasion.

The format to the evening is pretty much the same; we’ll engage in a bit of a welcome chat about the delicate process of wine making, before sampling our first tipples of white wine. We’ll then be cruising our way through to rose, and finishing the evening with some juicy reds. We’ll also be holding a raffle for Swindon Lions Club, who deserve a massive shout out for all their amazing work with local charities. Huge credit to Brian, aka wine extraordinaire, who has yet again delivered a fantastic tasting in enigmatic style.

  1. Selection Cave De L’Ormarine Picpoul De Pinet

Delicate and easy drinking, the nose reveals a medley of citrus and white fruits, with a light floral background. The taste is refreshing with a slight perfumed finish that doesn’t weigh down the palette. This was probably favourite wine of the evening, it has plenty of aromatic length that keeps you coming back for more. Created in the South of France, specifically in the Languedoc region, the Picpoul grapes can retain their acidity even in hot climates, and work wonderfully for full bodied wines.  It’s all too easy to consume your entire glass without even noticing, and for £7 it’s a pretty neat deal. Pair with fish or some light tapas for a refined evening meal.

  1. Finca Manzanos Blanco Rioja

White riojas are generally a bit of a rare find, so there was a fair bit of hype surrounding this particular wine.  It’s crisp and sharp, with plenty of apricot on the nose. Emerging from one of Spain’s independent family owned bodegas, there’s hints of honeysuckle, almond and pear, with a slight tang of grapefruit. Winemaker Borja Ripa has also added a small amount of Chardonnay (around 15%) for extra richness, but as a person who generally avoids Chardonnay like the plague, it was perhaps a bit too dry for my own taste. That being said, it’s certainly pleasant enough, and works wonderfully with seafood or pasta.

  1. El Porvenir De Cafayate Amauta Absoluto

Created by a small, family run winery in Cafayate, the dry region of North-West Argentina, this wine manages to create a beautiful richness on the palette, while notes of tropical fruit, ginger, and lemongrass give an aromatic finish. Asian style ingredients give an intriguing edge to this wine- it took me a while to figure out if I even liked the flavour, as there’s so many layers to the taste that it continually keeps you on your toes. Complex, with plenty of freshness and acidity, it pairs neatly with spicy Asian dishes, but has the potential to split the crowd.

  1. Domaine Saint Marie Cotes De Provence (Rose)

For someone who claims to dislike rose, I was pleasantly surprised with this little number. Sweet, but without the sharpness of other roses on the market, there’s refreshing notes of raspberries and white flowers that are subtle, but still manage to give decent depth on the palette. Domiane Saint Marie specialise in grape vines at least 25 years old, with the cool Mediterranean breezes allowing the grapes to maintain a great freshness.  Clean and delicate, with plenty of character, it’s a perfect wine for summertime. Enjoy al fresco with some grilled fish.

  1. Finca Manzanos Garnacha Rioja

Rioja is probably one of my favourite reds, so it’s no surprise that I knocked this one back in minutes. Six generations of the Manzanos family have dedicated themselves to winemaking, and continue to pursue traditional methods with a mindfulness for sustainability. This consideration for every aspect of the wine making process is very much echoed in both taste and character: there’s a cheeky hit of spice, which stands up to the robust notes of raspberry, blackberry and plum. Deep fruity tones are then balanced perfectly with vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon, which overall give a refined, developed taste. A modern classic that works well with red peppers, or garlic infused lamb/pork.

  1. Cline Old Vine Zinfandel

Bold and fruity, Cline certainly packs a punch with its plump strawberry notes. It’s a struggle to drink a bottle of this on your own (believe me, I’ve tried) as it does become a little heavy after a while. That being said, this was still my favourite red of the evening for its delicious hints of vanilla, cocoa and coffee bean, that result in warm, satisfying finish. Crafted in California, Cline Wines have here selected aged parcels of Mourvedre grapes to a give a distinctive deep colour with plenty of weight and acidity. A wine like this really demands a rich pairing, so team with steak, lamb or venison for a cheeky Friday night treat.

For my first tasting, I have to admit that I’m impressed. I know I’m probably a little biased, but Brian’s enthusiasm for wine is infectious; I’ve learnt so much about the industry, and I’m now able to identify flavours and notes in a manner that was quite alien to me before now.

It’s also a small miracle that I’ve enjoyed every single offering on tonight’s menu- considering I usually detest rose, it’s the icing on the cake of a fab evening. I’m slightly worse for wear after consuming six glasses of wine, but that was to be expected.  And for a mere £15 ticket, you can’t really go wrong can you?



Wine Tastings at Magnum Wine Shop take place on alternate Friday evenings, with tickets priced at £15. Visit http://magnumwineshop.co.uk/ for more information.

To find out more about Swindon Lions Club and how you can contribute to your local community, visit http://www.swindonlions.org/index.html




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