I was glad to help our local group of the National Trust (Honiton and Ottery St Mary) with a fund-raising wine tasting at West Hill Village Hall on Friday 23rd March. We do not ‘host’ many events of this type as most of us CPW’ers have families and our Friday evenings are far too precious. However, the indefatigable Richard Coley was very kind to my mother when arranging her wonderful NT trip to Northern Italy last year so I was glad to return the favour. If anybody wants to organise a great wine tasting, make sure to take my Mum on holiday first!
Approximately 70 people attended with a 32 seater charabanc being organised from Honiton, which took care of any problems with finding a designated driver. The Village Hall was an agricultural barn many decades ago but has now quite converted to deluxe standards, as you might expect for West Hill, with an excellent kitchen.
We tasted nine wines, kicking off with a glass of sparkling Aldridge Brut NV from Australia and then moving through four whites (Castillo White, Spain – Gros Manseng ‘Cassagnoles’, France – Frog Haven Pinot Gris, New Zealand – Bourgogne Blanc, France) and then four reds (Roc du Gouveneur, France - Rio Alto Carmenere, Chile – Barbera Piedmonte, Italy – Zweigelt, Austria). I tried to throw in some unusual grape varieties as there’s no point in going to a wine tasting and then drinking what you normally glug back at home!
The questions flew in thick and fast so we wrapped up much later than planned, for which I apologise. One of the benefits of doing wine tastings for groups such as the NT is that the members tend to either be widely travelled or have a enquiring nature…and often both. This means lots of ’feedback’, which enables me to ditch the boring stuff and and instead answer the points raised from the floor, so to speak! The topics ranged through semi-permeable membranes in screwcaps, the pro’s and con’s of plastic bottles for wine, residual sugar levels for diabetics, ‘hang time’ for phenolic ripening in grapes and how Champagne gets ‘tweaked’ for different parts of there world, amongst many. It’s amazing how a relatively simple question about, say, Chilean reds can end up at organic manures, via drip irrigation techniques! Nobody fell asleep, as far as I could tell, so it couldn’t have been too boring.
I was also amazed at the alacrity at which the venue was tidied up afterwards. Several of the NT members may be mumble mumble years old but they set too when it came to making it all ’ship shape and Bristol fashion’. I wish I could get my children to be that motivated!
My thanks to Richard Coley for organising the event, the ’volunteers’ who helped pour the wines and all who helped tidy up afterwards. The concensus on the night was that a good time was had by all.