Portland May Wine Fair: old favourites and new discoveries

On Friday evening, we attended the Portland Wine Company May Wine Fair at the Bowdon Hotel. As regulars at our local indie wine shop’s events, it was good to see (and taste) some familiar faces and wines, but we also made some new friends.  We tasted too many wines to list, but I’d like to share a few with you, in the categories of “old favourites” and “new discoveries”.

Old favourites

circle-of-life-winesThe first old favourite I tasted was the divine biodynamic Waterkloof Circle of Life White.  I first tasted this at the Portland Wine Waterkloof tasting in February and I loved it even more this time.  Circle of Life is the blend that the Waterkloof winemakers feel best represents the brand.  The 2011 is based on Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon plus what Waterkloof describe as “a tickle of je ne sais quoi”.  (As I’m currently preparing to teach EU law of Free Movement of Goods, I’m a little concerned as to whether that satisfies labelling laws, but I’m going to keep quiet about it.)

Circle of Life is rich and creamy, due to a slow fermentation and long ageing on the lees. This creamy texture is balanced with intense lime and peach flavours, giving wonderful complexity and a good long finish.

Another old friend was Casa Silva Reserva Viognier, poured by Johnny Bingham, the genial host of the Portland Wine Casa Silva tasting in March.  Viognier is currently my favourite white grape, and this is a stunning example from Chile.  It’s bursting with fruit, predominantly peach and melon.  Sensitive use of oak gives it body without interfering with the delicious fruit flavours.  Revisiting my notes from the March tasting reminded me that Johnny recommended drinking this with scallops.  We’ve ordered a couple of bottles, so I look forward to trying this pairing – I’ll report back!

tahonThe last old friend that I wanted to catch up with was Tahon de Tobelos Rioja Reserva 2009.  We tasted and ordered some of this (or possibly the 2008) at a previous Portland wine fair.  It’s made from 100% Tempranillo and aged in a combination of French, Hungarian and American oak.  For me, it displays the perfect Reserva balance of fruit (berries and plums) complemented by chocolate and toasty oak.  I can really taste the American oak influence, which gives it a subtle but enticing coconut flavour.  Personally, I think this is a wine for enjoying by itself so that I can savour all the complex flavours going on, but the Tobelos website recommends matching it with game, red meats, baked fish and semi-cured cheeses.


New discoveries

cezanne_1897Our first new discovery was Mas de Cadenet Blanc, which is made from 100% Vermentino (aka Rolle). I think that I’ve had Rolle in a blend before, but not tasted it as a single varietal.  It’s very pale lemon in colour and packed with fresh fruit flavours: a lively blend of citrus, pear and perhaps a hint of pineapple.  This was great to drink by itself, but I look forward to trying it with fish or seafood – I think it will be a great match.

The second new find was the Mas de Cadenet Rosé.  This is a blend of Grenache (40%), Cinsault (40%) and Syrah (20%).  The grapes are grown at the foot of the Sainte Victoire mountain in Provence, a favourite subject of Cézanne.  It’s salmon pink with a very refined and complex blend of floral and red fruit flavours.   Highly recommended.  I hope to enjoy it with barbecues over the summer, but posh barbecues with prawns and fishy kebabs, to match its elegance.

Our third and final new discovery was Gavi del Commune di Gavi “Nuovo Quadro”, Piemonte.  I’ve tasted Gavi (from Piemonte and made from Cortese grapes) before, but this was by far the best example that I’ve tried.  It’s full of fresh citrus and peach flavours, combined with nutty mineral notes to give a really rich and textured mouthfeel.

Another great evening, reminding myself why I love certain wines and discovering some new ones. Thanks to Paula and the rest of the Portland Wine team.


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