I nearly didn’t taste it, but it was the surprise wine of the night. It was August this year and I had recently arrived in London on one of my semi-regular ‘sensory sabbaticals’ — an extended trip abroad in which I set out to expand my world by tasting more of it. I happened to be in London at the same time as two other wonderful wine professionals I met at different times in New Zealand — wine consultant and Master of Wine Madeleine Stenwreth and winemaker and New Zealand wine legend Ben Glover.
Over dinner and several bottles of wine, we reflected on how wonderful, diverse and sociable the world of wine is. And what a brilliant way it is to see and taste more of the world. Naturally, we broke conversation and took time to genuflect over our wines — there was the Champagne that, after some triage, we rejected for being corked; there was the saline, savoury and energising Assyrtiko, and there may have been another, but by then I was not so bothered by the detail and just enjoying the pleasure of it all.
It was late; fading, but not quite ready to draw the curtain on the night, we asked for a single glass of red wine each and left it to the waiter to choose. In the second it took to flick the wrist, swirl the glass and hover our noses over the wine, we were alert, engaged and excited again. What was this? The aromas were pretty and gritty at once — squashed red fruits, medicinal herbs and the slightest hint of white pepper and spice. Could we guess? The palate was just as enchanting with a silky juiciness that ebbed and flowed around an underlying crunch. Could we have the rest of the bottle? And a decanter? Our sommelier, as happy with his choice as we were, obliged. And so, as the chairs were stacked around us, the kitchen cleaned and the restaurant emptied of all the guests, we devoured the rest of energising and vivid wine. It was the surprise wine of dinner and the perfect exclamation mark on our night!
For the rest of the recommendations, read the full story at Spanish Wine Lover.