Wine Tasting in Balham – Again

bottle of red wineLast week was the April edition of Ruth Alexander-Gordon’s new wine-tasting club in Balham, south west London. She’s called it ‘Wines, Vines and Good Times’, or something like that.

Not sure about the name, but we spent an evening tasting some Cabernet Sauvignon wines from around the world in the company of the lovely Sarah, so I can forgive a slight concern over the name.

Here’s a link to Ruth’s notes about the wines we tasted. At the time I must admit I had a bit of an issue on the night, but on reflection (I’m not sure ‘sober reflection’ would be accurate or appropriate) I’m actually rather pleased.

I have a real blind spot about wines that are not from France or Italy. I don’t dislike them, I just don’t know anything about them. Of the wines we tasted, two were from France.

But the first was a cabernet sauvignon from the Vins de Pay’s D’Oc. Well, that’s not going to be very nice, is it? The classic cabernet sauvignon would be an aged claret from one of the better estates of the haut médoc. It definitely wouldn’t be a Vins de Pay de Don’t Bother (what a snob I am!).

Man with wine barrelWe had a 2nd French wine, a claret this time, but a very ordinary version, an Appellation Bordeaux Controllée.

Necessarily a blend (cabinet sauvignon with merlot) – no appellation (AOC) wine in France can have a single variety of grape and publicise it on the label. Except Gewürtztraminer from the Alsace appellation. As an aside, isn’t that cool?

One of the reasons I enjoy Alsatian Gewürtztraminer is because you know it’s the only AOC wine in the whole of France that is allowed to put the grape variety on the label.

I don’t know why, but I like that, and it’s Dorothea’s favourite wine as well, a delightful lady from Freiburg, now of Sunbury-on-Thames, and a Chain Gang Cycling regular.

Anyway, at Ruth’s tasting the stand-out wine was a South African – guess where Ruth’s from? But it was gorgeous, and worth a name check: Annandale 2001.

The only minor gripe I had was that if I wanted to present cabernet sauvignon at it’s best, any Chain Gangers who have cycled the Bordeaux Winetrail could name you half-a-dozen wines from our trip along the Dordogne and into the médoc.

It wouldn’t be a Vine de Pays d’Oc, and it wouldn’t be a plain old AOC Bordeaux. But on reflection it was nice to be taken through a few wines by someone who doesn’t have my disgraceful bias towards ‘old world’ wines. Especially the Annandale, but the wines from the US and from Argentina were lovely too.

I’m minded to do a bit of a shout for the vineyards and the wines we meet. That can be a project for next week. But a lovely evening, thanks Ruth.

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