Thursday, 9 July 2009

Wine Tasting Jolly Olly Style!

You know it's not going to be a stuffy wine tasting when the session starts with high fives all round. But who could expect anything else from the inimitable Olly Smith?! He's loud, vivacious, colourful and (as I came to learn) a genuinely top bloke.

I'm a big fan of Olly's no nonsense, open style. He talks about wine in everyday language that people understand. He makes wine tasting accessible for everyone, not just the wine buffs. Which is good for me. I know what I like but rarely push the boundaries to see what else is out there that might take my fancy.

So it was that, on one of the hottest days of the year, I found myself in a giant dome (or Obi Wan Kenobi's living room as Olly would have it), slowly roasting, at Tapas Fantasticas 2009 - a free festival celebrating Spanish tapas and Rioja wine which ran over two fun-filled days in Brick Lane Yard, London.

The first slot of the day can't be an easy one. It was 12 noon and I'd only just managed a slice of toast for breakfast. I certainly hadn't quite got into the swing of the whole event. But the high fives set the tone just nicely. A bit of frivolity is a great way to kick start a Saturday in the sunshine.

We kicked off with the Marques de Caceres Viura 2008. A great drinkable wine. Fresh, zingy and appley. In Olly's words "yum-tastic". Great with paella or just on it's own on a hot summer's afternoon poured over a load of strawberries and ice.

Next up was the Campo Viejo Rosado 2008. This is a super modern rose. It's pale in colour and smells of roses and summer fruits. The blurb is right when it says that it would be perfect with summer salads, but I'd probably go for it as an aperitif on a balmy summer's evening.

Elena Adell, the winemaker for Campo Viejo, calls herself a homemaker-winemaker and declares a love crocheting and designing small items of clothing. How random is that?!

For the reds we stepped up a price bracket or two. Olly declared of the Baron de Ley Finca Monasterio 2006 which is 80% tempranillo - "I rather like this one!". It's a rich wine which has been aged in French oak for 18 months. I'm not sure £14.99 for a wine which Olly thinks tastes of cola cubes will be one I'll be buying regularly, although the 7 Vinas Rioja Reserva 2004 from the same vineyard was pretty special.

The Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are more savoury and the CVNE Imperial Reserva 2001 was definitely drier on the tongue but the wine lighter in body. Apparently that means it's like spiderman's costume - light but strong.... The 10% graciano grape gives the acidity.

By the time we reached our final wine we were running way behind schedule. It was time to sup up our glass fulls and any spares knocking around, finishing with the Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2001. At £36 this can only be described in my books as a 'Christmas Wine' - something you get to push the boat out for and drink but once a year! It's quite a leathery wine, but one that's also sweet and spicy. This one wasn't for me and certainly not at that price.

Most of the wines we tasted are 'ready to go' wines. They have already been aged and, unlike the more classical wines of Bordeaux for example, they don't need ageing (or in some cases are best not kept for long) - a great thing if you're useless at keeping your mitts of the wine on the rack at home.

All that on one slice of toast...I headed straight for the tapas (and another glass of rose...)!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Ollie. He's got to be the least stuffy wine expert out there.

    Just found your blog - it's really very good.