GRAPEVINE with LIZ SAGUES: All wines point to Bordeaux
At this time of year, the focus is on Bordeaux. The mad annual rush round the chateaux by trade and press to taste and judge the newly unveiled vintage has just finished. But, if you act quickly, there s a chance you can sample some of the very best wines
At this time of year, the focus is on Bordeaux. The mad annual rush round the chateaux by trade and press to taste and judge the newly unveiled vintage has just finished. But, if you act quickly, there's a chance you can sample some of the very best wines without voyaging beyond NW8.
The location is Lord's Cricket Ground, the date is next Wednesday (April 25) and the host is Primrose Hill-based fine wine merchant Bibendum. Tickets are £30. But when the list of participants ranges from Angelus to Yquem, from Cheval Blanc to Lynch Bages, and includes many more great names, that's remarkable value.
But tickets are selling fast. So phone or email now - 020-
7449 4120, email@example.com.
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It should be a fascinating four hours (the tasting runs from late afternoon through into mid evening), all the more so because representatives of the 50-plus participating chateaux will be pouring wines from other recent vintages alongside barrel samples of
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And those representatives will include such stellar names as Anthony Barton, Christian Seely, Stefan Von Neipperg, Nicolas Thienpont and Olivier Berrouet. So what more could a claret-lover covet: the chance to talk as well as taste.
Last year's event, focusing on the fabulous 2005 vintage, was a huge success, and the location has been described as "inspired" by Christian Seely. Why? "An inability to beat Australians and New Zealanders at cricket is clearly one of the strong cultural links between Britain and France..."
This year, says Bibendum director of fine wine sales Ed Cottrell, the new vintage is one "where winemaking talent really gets a chance to shine". But while it may not be so lauded as 2005, it will be more affordable.
On the subject of affordable, now from the sublime if not to the ridiculous, at least to wines right down the price scale. Tesco's Spring Festival started yesterday and I've tried three of the heavily discounted Bordeaux examples.
La Foret Hilaire red (appellation Bordeaux, 2005) and white (Entre-Deux-Mers, 2006) are both £4, down £3 and £2 respectively. They come with screwcaps, to ensure the freshness their style needs, and both lead on from clean fragrance to decent depth of fruit - green and crisp for the white, juicily fuller with a slightly dry edge in the red. Hardly complex, but pleasant everyday drinking.
Chateau Martin 2003 (Graves, £7 down from £10) is much more classic in style, with that familiar leafy Bordeaux smell. But it comes from an exceptionally warm vintage, so the fruit was ripe, producing a deep-flavoured wine which finishes long and dry. A friend who particularly enjoys Australian reds kept refilling his glass.
Plenty more wines are included in the festival, which runs until May 15. Quite a lot are familiar brands and, if you enjoy them, take advantage of the savings. But I believe there's a lot more pleasure to be had by resisting the discounts and going for more interesting wines.
The Tesco Finest range now includes some very enticing bottles - all of these are strongly recommended.
Whites: Ken Forrester chenin blanc 2006 (£7), Marlborough sauvignon blanc 2006 (£7.50), Alsace pinot gris 2005 (£7), Tingleup riesling from Western Australia (£8), Steillage German riesling 2006 (£6). Reds: Vacqueyras 2005 (£6), Old Vines tempranillo 2006 and garnacha 2006 (both £6), Barolo 2003 (£13).