Drinking Diaries: Fine Wine Tasting

This particular wine tasting is quite a special one. Taking place as per usual at Magnum Wine Shop, Swindon, there’s a fair bit of excitement in the air tonight; owner and dear friend Brian is celebrating his birthday (but being cagey about his age). So to celebrate, we’re rolling out the big guns. We’ll be testing out a grand total of seven fine wines through the course of the evening, as well indulging in some quality fizz and port. Which all sounds very civilised, but the reality was decidedly rowdier than anticipated.

To kick things off, we’ll enjoy some bubbles on arrival, whilst having an introductory chat about the making of high quality wine. Kudos to Brian and Co for yet another fantastic tasting- quite possibly their best yet.


  1. The Fizz- Quartet Louis Roederer, California

A dry, fermented sparkling wine with plenty of citrus notes. It’s fresh and elegant, with complex background notes of pear and spice. Quartet are renowned for their traditional approach to winemaking, and rely upon the estate’s cool, fog-shrouded climate to mature grapes slowly. A 70% blend of Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, it’s a ripe little number that keeps you coming back for more. Very dangerous in larger doses.


  1. The Whites- Gorka Izagirre Txakoli 2016, Spain

Boasting a stylish restaurant as well as a modern winery, it’s safe to say that Gorka Izagirre has become something of a brand over the past few years. Their aim is to promote and preserve the local varieties of Hondarabbi Zuri and Hondarabbi Zerratia- this particular wine is a blend of both varieties, producing an aromatic flavour that retains length on the palette. Influenced by the Atlantic climate of the area, the overall drinking is floral and fresh, with a clean lemon finish. Not the most memorable of wines by any means, but its pleasantly inoffensive. Pair with seafood for a light summer meal.


  1. Domaine Des Perserons 2015 Saint Veran, France

Hands down my favourite wine of the evening. It’s produced with minimal intervention across the vineyards founded by Michel and Jocelyne Paquet, in the chalky hills of South Burgundy. The distinctive nose gives way to plenty of apple, with a soft background of oak and almond. Possessing a dry texture, it’s surprisingly well bodied for a white wine, with a rich finish that almost sings on your palette. I ended up knocking back my glass in a few gulps, so I can confirm that it most definitely falls into the ‘easy drinking’ category. Enjoy with cheese, or creamy dishes such as risotto.


  1. Lugana DOC 2015 Ancilla Lugana, Italy

Created in the tiny region of Lugana, on the edge of the tourist haven Lake Garda, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this wine is nothing more than a bit of undemanding plonk suited for tourist bars. I was therefore quite surprised to find that there’s far more to this wine than meets the eye; a delicate medley of yellow fruit and citrus provide plenty of bite, and gives decent depth and structure. The notes of peach and grapefruit here take centre stage, resulting in a refreshing taste that maintains acidity.  Subtle floral notes provide a vibrant finish. An absolute gem that works wonderfully with seafood pasta.


  1. The Rose- By Ott 2016 Cotes Du Provence, France

I’m finally beginning to get over my fear of rose wine after quaffing this. Made from the estate’s young vines, there’s a pleasing minerality to this wine that adds a crisp texture. The grapes are handpicked, followed by a delicate pressing process that gives the wine its distinctive colour. The nose is fruity with aromas of peach, apricot, and mango, with plenty of citrus and cinnamon on the palette. The finish is slightly sweet, with a hint of cardamom. A reassuringly dry rose that works perfectly for summertime drinking. Team with Mediterranean cuisine.


  1. The Reds- Marimar Estate Pinot Noir 2012 Russian River, California

I can’t resist a Pinot Noir, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Marimar holds the only Californian vineyards that are completely planted in European style- vines are apparently planted on a south west facing vertical training system. The vines live for longer this way, and develop more intense flavours and aromas. The notes of cherries and plums are bold and plump, with background hints of sage. Retaining plenty of acidity and freshness, it was probably my favourite red of the evening. The overall taste can become slightly tart after a bit of air, with liquorice notes growing more prominent in the medium length finish. Works beautifully with duck or game.


  1. Piattelli Trinita Grand Reserve 2011 Mendoza, Argentina

I’ll admit that I was becoming (slightly) tipsy at this point in the evening, so bear with me. From what I can actually remember, this particular wine had plenty of oaky aromas, with distinctive notes of blackberry. Mendoza is easily the largest wine region of Argentina, making up for around 70% of the country’s wine production.  Consisting of 75% Malbec, with an addition of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s complex and intriguing. The taste is jammy and rich, with deep hits of chocolate and prune. Matches well with lamb or poultry.


  1. San Marzano Vindoro Negroamaro 2012 Salento, Italy

Heavy bottle, containing an even heavier wine. I’d therefore advise you not to quaff it all in one sitting. This wine is produced using a dark-skinned grape valued for its deep colour and medium full tannins, and adds an earthy tone to the overall tasting. There’s plenty of dark fruity flavours on the palette, with a full-bodied texture that adds a certain richness and bite. Intense and characteristic, it’s a great wine to pair with roast beef.


  1. The Port- Barros 10-Year-Old Tawny

I’m not usually a massive fan of port, but this one rounded off the evening rather nicely. Barros Port are probably one of the most prestigious companies producing Port today, with much of their success coming from Colheita ports. These are old tawnies from a single year that are matured in cask for a minimum period of seven years.  This one is ruby red in colour, with hints coffee on the nose. There’s a velvety texture on the palette, with plenty of dark fruit. In the background, you can detect tones of chocolate, which gives warmth and intensity. An easy drinking port that actually works rather well with a slice of carrot cake.


Overall, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve revelled in style this evening. There’s been some truly outstanding wines on the menu, and I can’t actually find fault with any of them. Which is a small miracle, as I’m quite apt at finding fault with things.

It’s been such a treat to taste wines that I probably wouldn’t pick for myself, and learn more about the industry in the process. I will always be a huge fan of Magnum’s tastings, but this one just has the edge. Whether you’re a wine aficionado or a complete novice, there’s something here for everyone. And if all else fails? You can just get plastered.


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.


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