Late August and September generally means budburst out in the vineyards of Australia, but in the wine trade it generally means one thing; Portfolio Days! The converging factors of slow periods in the winery allowing winemakers to head out on the road, and the beginning of the four-month period leading into Christmas means this is the perfect time to invite trade supporters into one location to exhibit one’s wares, whilst inviting principles along to spruik. With countless distributors showing hundreds of wines each, it is with great enthusiasm and trepidation that I headed into this period, particularly given I am about to head off on the grand tour in about three weeks. Here are the tastings I’ve been to in the last two weeks.
Spanish Acquisition 10 year Anniversary Portfolio Tasting
The fact I turned up an hour early because of a typo in the reminder email meant I got the opportunity to try a Bloody Mary for the first time, at 11:00am… I think I’ll pass next time, I’ve never been a fan of tomato juice. 90% of Scott Wasley’s Spanish and Portuguese range were on show, starting with Cava, moving into whites, reds, fortifieds and finishing with a nice London Dry Gin. Tasting a lot of these wines makes me realise that generally I have yet to come to terms with these varieties and styles, further supporting my intention to spend 6 weeks in the region next year. Some of the highlights were some of Telmo Rodriguez’s reds, most of the Portuguese wines, and as always, the Romate sherries. Interestingly there were a few bottles of Pingus open (which I have to admit general ignorance of), which would sell for about $1500+ a bottle, but I couldn’t quite see what made it so valuable a wine. Oh well…
Negociants and Samuel Smith & Son New Release Tasting
There is always excitement around the Negociants tastings as they have such a huge and diverse portfolio of domestic and imported wines, yet there is always something to disappoint about them. Whilst the wines on show are all great and are important to show in a commercial sense, it is a shame that a lot of the great European stuff isn’t on show; Guigal, Hugel, and numerous others. I don’t expect first growth Bordeaux or Vega Sicilia, but some interesting stuff would be nice, like some South American wine. They also don’t seem particularly interested in holding masterclasses at these tastings, although they did have a few at the Pinot Noir tasting a few months ago which were great. There are however always some surprises, which in this case was the quality of the New Zealand wines in the portfolio (Dry River, Ata Rangi, Valli, Vinoptima, Greywacke, Fromm), Egon Muller being in attendance in a white suit showing his great wines, the quality of Oz producers like Seppeltsfield, Kooyong and Tarrawarra, and the table covered in various cheeses. A few cheeky Hoegardens with some former fellow students to finish with made for a lovely end to the evening.
Bibendum Trade Day
One of the most eclectic ranges of premium small producers, the wines of Bibendum have had a much larger presence in King & Godfree this year thanks to their quality, talkability and a great sales rep. The opportunity to further explore the range and catch up with the lovely people who work for the company are all the incentive I need. Having said that there were a number of wines that didn’t really excite, which was a bit disappointing. The wines that did impress are mostly the ones we already stock, suggesting we know what we are doing or we have a really good rep. It was amazing to get the chance to sit in on a Oakridge and Bindi masterclass, especially when there are six vintages of Block Five Pinot to try. The grower champagnes lived up to the hype, my first taste of Tokaji dessert wines was pretty awesome, the Vissoux Beaujolais’ were very interesting, the Spanish wines were generally great, and it was nice to finish with some Cognac considering I was brewing a cold up. A chat with some Bibendum folk and the vineyard manager from Mac Forbes finished the evening quite nicely.
These tastings were a nice way to finish up my time at King & Godfree as I prepare for my trip, and they also served to interest me in some of the places I’ll be visiting soon.