Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Oddbins Autumn Tasting (in-store, exclusives)

Hello again! Last Friday, D and I attended our local Oddbins store for an evening tasting of some of their “exclusive” wines. Exclusive in the sense of only Oddbins sell them, rather than super-pricey or exquisite! The format was informal and the staff were great; welcoming, chatty and enthused about (some of) their wines. 6 whites, 8 reds and two sparklers were lined up. We got there quite early with only a few other people mooching around. I was in Blog mode and wanting to suss out some of their other wines for a near-future purchase, so we got down to business, fast.

We were greeted with a glass of lovely Cava (Tore Oria Brut Cava, 7.5/10, £8.99) which really was great. Nice smooth bubbles, a touch of sweetness and plenty of lingering tropical and citrussy fruitiness. This was followed by a glass of Champers! I nearly choked on my first sip of the Ayala Brut Majeur NV (6.5/10, £27.99) due to the very aggressive mousse (bubbles, in other words!) Noticeably less fruit and more minerally complexity than the Cava. Maybe the Cava spoilt my palate, but I didn’t find this amazing.

We moved onto the table of whites. First up was the Romanian Frunza Pinot Grigio 2009 (6/10 and the best value white, £5.99). This was ok, plenty of tropical fruit, had the typical “Fruit-Salad sweets” aroma. Crisp, fresh, easy drinking and good value. Next was a French white from the Languedoc region and a grape I’ve never even heard of (and neither had the staff! LOL.); Picpoul de Pinet Cháteau la Mirande 2008 (6.5/10, £8.99). To me, the Picpoul grape resembled a Gewurztraminer or maybe Viognier-like. Difficult to describe on a first encounter in an unfamiliar environment. Exotic, interesting and tasty. Not bad value but didn’t shine. Next was a Sauvignon/Chardonnay blend from the Loire; Domaine de Léry Cheverny 2009 (7/10, £9.99). This was pretty good, grassy, minerally and with a fair bit of limey fruit thrown in. A fruit-bomb of a Sauvignon followed: Vina Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (7/10. £9.99). Loads of fruit here, grapefruit, lime and zesty tropical hints. Biting acidity. A little overdone maybe? Next was an Australian Semillon, the Hungerford Hill Semillon 2009 from New South Wales (6/10, £9.99 at present). This was very light, and looking at the alcohol confirmed only 9.5%. Fresh, tangy fruit but more like a lunchtime wine for me. Finally, a bizarre but interesting take on Chardonnay from Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Chardonnay 2009 (7.5/10 and the winning white, £16.99) from the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria, Australia. This really was an odd one. Smoked cheese and ham were my first impressions. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. It was like tasting the air on Bonfire Night! Seriously smoky and savoury but that gave way to more fruit and a balanced acidity. Very interesting but not for everyone I’d imagine. It took me a while to make up my mind. A shame it was the most expensive white of the evening.

Anyway, we downed our (meagre) samples and moved swiftly on to the reds. First up was a Burgundy; Domaine des Marechaudes Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2007. (7.5/10, £10.99). Unusual for the French to include the grape in the wine name but hey-ho. This was very good – a great balance of fruit, acidity, tannin and sweetness of the red-berry dominated aroma and taste. A good start. This was followed by a pretty dire Italian offering; Gulfi Rossojbleo 2009 (5/10, £12.99) took the worst value trophy. Cedar wood smells dominated, and it wasn’t very fruit-driven apart from an overly acidic sour redcurrant. We moved on, quickly. Next was a French blend of six grapes; Capucine Vin de Pays de l’Aude 2009 (7.5/10 and best value red, £8.49) Carnigan, Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Cab Sauv and Alicante! This was very good, like Cháteauneuf du Pape with a plumy, spicy, lingering taste. Great and great value. Next was a Portuguese blend of indigenous grapes, the Ciconia 2009 (5/10, £8.99). A real deep purple this one but sadly lacking in taste; cherry liqueur but with a Gin-like floral bitterness. Not something I’d expect to find in a red. Again, we moved on quickly. Sadly to another duffer. I though the Vin de Pays de Hauterive Les Clos Red 2008 was tainted. Musty cork taste hence no-score. I was going to ask if it was corked but the room had filled up by now. We were jostling for places in the wine queue and glasses were being thrust forwards like microphones at a press conference!  Next up was a Bordeaux blend, Les Tourelles de Sipian 2007 (6/10, £9.99). This one had an odd vegetal smell. Very tannic so needs time to mellow I think. Decent fruitiness though with plums and blackcurrants. D liked it a lot. Me, not so much. Next was a frankly crap Rioja – the Zinio Reserva Rioja 2004 (4/10 and the worst value wine of the night, £14.99). 2004 was a superlative year for Rioja, however, these guys managed to mess it up. Musty, dusty and with a dark-sherry like taste. Over oxidised maybe? Not good at all. Anyway, on to the final wine of the night and we’d both been looking forward to this one after tasting the Chardonnay – it was the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2008 (8.5/10 and the winning red/wine of the night, £16.99) and it was frankly fantastic! Typical Shiraz smells of peppery, spicy berries with blueberry and plum. Complex, many things going on in the glass. Cracking but bloody expensive. Saying that, I’ll definitely be getting one of these to put away for a special occasion when I go to Oddbins in the near future!

We had a great night. There’s another, bigger one in November with about 40 wines. I advise you to look out for one near you!


Speak to you soon.


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