I’M TRYING ever so hard not to become a wine snob – but I might be failing miserably.
I’ve been writing this column for just a year, and I simply want to enthuse others without becoming a bloomin’ know-it-all in the process.
No airy fairy nonsensical comments from me – I’m keeping it real, down to earth. Or am I.
This weekend, at a friend’s function, a wine waiter leaned over and said “red or white?” “Oooh,” says I, excited, “what have you got?”
“Red or white” says the waiter – “yes, but what is it,” says me, wanting to know the grapes.
“Red or white,” he replied.
He admitted he didn’t have a clue. I saw one was a Chilean sauvignon blanc. Seemed a safe bet. It had the aroma of dusty oregano, abandoned for years at the back of the kitchen cupboard.
The following day I was out for an Italian. The only wines to buy by the glass were pinot grigio or chardonnay. Give me strength.
Except it wasn’t strength I wanted, it was a glass of viognier, or gavi, or a non-dusty sauvignon blanc. I didn’t want – I never want – pinot grigio and, that day, not chardonnay.
Now I know there are many restaurants, bistros and bars which offer excellent choices, do so with style and share knowledge with the likes of us.
But these two venues offered really good food – why couldn’t they match that with their wine? Why didn’t a waiter know what he was serving? Why, when nowadays people are much more wine savvy, did I have only two choices of white to buy by glass?
Am I becoming a wine snob? You tell me.
At least I had some joy this weekend, with Wyfold Vineyard Sparkling Wine 2009 (£24.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk).
Wyfold was established by Barbara Laithwaite and a friend in the Chiltern Hills, where in 2003 they planted Champagne varieties chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. They have been guided by winemakers at Ridgeview – five times winners of the Best English Wine Producers in the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
Barbara says of the sparkler: “It has a hint of gold – that’s the 2009 sunshine in the glass.”
This wine does indeed twinkle; ripples of bubbles glint upwards to the top of the glass where they gather in a fine mousse with every intention of staying put. The aroma is yeasty brioche and baked apples – and the marzipan slithers of Battenburg cake.
To taste, it had good acidity and elegant, mouthwatering, crisp apples and pears.
Also in my glass this week ... Villa Ponte Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (£8.60, www.redretrowines.com) is a silver award winner at the Mundus Vini International Wine competition in Germany.
Former wines salesman Dave Turner moved to Bulgaria four years ago and later signed a deal with one of the country’s biggest wineries, Black Sea Gold, to import their wines to the UK.
His aim is to give Bulgarian wine an image makeover after much of the “plonk” sold here in the 70s and 80s.
The chard/SB has medium intensity with apple and smoked oak aromas. It has sprightly but not overpowering acidity with dried apples, minerality and fresh lemon tremors to finish.
Its sister wine Villa Ponte Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2009 is also a silver medal winner. Cab sav and syrah aren’t wallflowers when it comes to flavours and this ruby wine is peppered with spicy red berries coated with vanilla from oak aging.