Having a wine

The smart folks at Qype continue to keep us obsessive reviewers sweet. Last month it was a special chocolate-tasting event; last night it was a wine-tasting event.

LVMH (the group that contains luxury brands like Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton) held a showcase of some of their New World wine producers in the swanky 19th-century event venue Il Bottaccio in Belgravia. It’s a really nice old building, well-suited for an event associated with luxury.

The six wine producers set up booths and we walked around and tried each. A representative from each winemaker was on hand to talk about their wines, locations, and production methods. Some had a bit of fun with their displays. Many had bits of food that were meant to accompany the wine-tasting.

I tend to prefer Old World wines so last night was a good event for me. Naturally there were some things I liked and some things I didn’t.

My non-professional thoughts on the wines being showcased:

  • Terrazas de los Andes – An Argentinian producer that focuses on growing particular grapes at particular altitudes (thus Terrazas, or “terraces”). Their reserve Malbec was quite good, and was in fact the favourite red of much of our group. They had little snacks to go with each wine – a tiny spoon of crème brûlée for their Chardonnay, a speck of duck for the Malbec, and a bit of beef for their Cab Sav – that came in a little clear plastic chest of drawers.
  • Green Point – From the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia. Their station was simply a long bar with stools, but it was very popular with the crowd. When we finally wedged in we found that they were making a big fuss about their carefully-paired tasters to accompany the wine. We all liked their non-vintage rosé, which came with some fruit jelly and foam in a shotglass. I really liked their reserve Shiraz (which came with – get this – a spoon of goat cheese foam with honey and cracked black pepper); it was probably my favourite wine of the evening.
  • Cape Mentelle – From Margaret River in Western Australia. I didn’t care for their Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2007, but I did find their 2006 a bit more complex and enjoyable (although they don’t export it, I’m told). Their Cab Sav was okay. Their display was made to look like a beach, with wooden tables on a pile of sand, gauzy curtains surrounding, and with ocean sounds piped in.
  • Cloudy Bay – From Marlborough, New Zealand. Plenty of whites, the only one of which I liked was their Te Koko.
  • Newton – A Napa Valley, California, producer. Their set-up was behind a short hedge maze. Once through there was a mini-oasis: a large table, some benches, and a Chinese gate (a replica of a larger one at the vineyard back in the US; one of the founders is Chinese). They made a big deal of their “unfiltered” process. Maybe they should start filtering, because I didn’t care for any of their wines. They did have the best snacks, though, with fresh strawberries, currants, cashews, and delicious honey-roasted walnuts.
  • Cheval des Andes – The last one we tried. They were the only producer set up on their own, in the library downstairs, giving them the air, at least, of exclusivity. This was an Argentinian wine, although produced in some sort of cultural joint venture with French producers Cheval Blanc. Their 2004 Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend was very tasty.

It was definitely a fun experience. After a glass or two, you don’t mind being a group of six regular folks shuffling between the upper-crust types who actually paid £60 to hum and haw about how much pomegrante they can detect in the 2006. I certainly appreciate Qype getting us in. In addition to being a fun event, it was fun to hang with Rob and Andrew from Qype, and with my fellow free-event recipients (most of whom I’ve met at blogger meetups) Shiny Gemma, Annie Mole, Guernican, and TikiChris.

EDIT: here it is written up on the Qype blog, with a few pics of me looking weird.