4 June 2007


It was with a deal of trepidation that Evil Batman and I walked into the Civil Service Club last Wednesday to meet the Central London Wine Society and sit at the feet of General Pinotage himself.

Given the fact that I have been trying to work out wines for a mere 5 months, it was somewhat nerve racking to sit with people who own their own wine companies, come from French wining families and drop into conversation that they have spent time working in South Africa for their Master of Wines certificate. I felt like the Philadelphia girl from some years back who tastes and says "lovely".

Of course that mostly wore off after a few glasses!

We tried Greenstone Chenin Blanc 2005 which I thought tasted a lot like white wine. Then we had 2 different Springfield Estate wines; Special Cuvee and Life from Stone. They had been harvested 2 days apart from each other last year and I was delighted to find that I could distinctly tell the difference between the two. Spurred on by the revelation that I might be able to get the hang of it and the relief of drinking something red, we moved on to a Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006 that made me feel a lot more at home. I have tried the 2005 you see. I dared a comment before the illustrious company and found I liked it more than most. It was damned with 'very commercial' which made me feel like a Tesco whore. Next was an atypical Pinotage by Allee Bleue that I also really liked. An intensely fruity, mocca chocolate wine that understandably made it into the top 10 Pinotages. Then we had the gorgeous Warwick Estate Trilogy 2004. This was less sweet and I rated it joint first with a later wine but I think it can only be bought from the Wine Society. Then we had a the Lammershoek Roulette which was warm, spicy and full bodied. Delicious. Next was the second of my joint top drinks of the night; Luddite Wine's Shiraz. Smoky and delicious. We finished with a dessert wine that was like pudding after a big roast dinner. Nederburg Wine's Noble Late Harvest 2003. Wow. It was like drinking honey. 90% Chenin Blanc, 10% Weisser Riesling. I have searched for this at Morrison's as I was told it could be bought there but to no avail so far.

It was a really good evening. I sat taking notes from the pro's all evening and learning new expressions and bits of information which keeps me happy whatever the subject. I've already signed up for another 2 evenings!

Chilford Hall.

What an inspired idea for a day out. Tripped out to Cambridgeshire to visit an English vineyard and winery. Evil Batman and I tried about 8 different wines - all white or rose. Now, I have been an avowed abstainer from white wine for a long time but having a proper tasting session and getting to pick out different flavours was really interesting. We came back with 4 bottles between us.

Current technological problems prevent me from showing you the pictures but they will get posted eventually.

The Chilford Hundred label (which needs some serious artwork) comes from the time when the land was divided up into hundred acre plots, giving enough space for an extended family to live self-sufficiently. It threw it down with rain all day so I saw precious little in the way of vines but we were shown round by a very enthusiastic lady who explained history of the winery and reason for the Anish Kapoor sculptures in the gardens!

I now have 2 estate bottled wines; a 2004 dry white & a 2003 medium white. I'm still unconvinced by sparkling wine but a chilled white I can appreciate now.

pig in paradise?

Last night I drank some Cab Sauv or other. I would probably have enjoyed it this time last year. But I was very disappointed with practically nothing on the nose, a weak body, some indistinguisable fruits and a dry finish. I did at least get to share it over the wall with an old friend. Who also didn't like it. But I think that was because it wasn't Vodka Red Bull.