Every year we hold an informal tasting in my childhood home town of Norwich with, usually, between 20 and 30 guests. This year we held it on Saturday, immediately after seeing Matthew Bourne's superb Sleeping Beauty at the Theatre Royal. The wines were almost evenly divided between French and Italian with the Rhone dominating the French selection.
I had been tempted to include some Joblot wines - after all, if I don't put them into tastings, how will people know just how good they are? However, I decided against this on purely practical grounds: most of the attendees prefer to keep their spending under £10 per bottle so there seemed little point in including wines the wrong side of £20! This was borne out by the comments - and sales - of Italian wines, the only one of which that sold well was Filippo Gallino's juicy, fruity Barbera d'Alba. A few other Italian reds did sell but only a bottle here, a couple of bottles there. The whites did well though with the surprise (for me) hit of the evening the rare Giovanni Manzone "Rosserto" just pipping the rich and rounded Nada Giuseppe "Armonia" in terms of sales at least.
From France, Domaine des Anges' Ventoux Blanc is always a success - excellent VFM and, more important, a wine with all the elements perfectly in place (in particular, fruit and acidity) but both Chateau de Jurque's Jurancon Sec and Chateau de l'Abbaye's Pouilly Fume were well received, both quite pungent wines, perhaps that is the key to their success. The surprise was that Domaine Treloar's "Terre Promis" just didn't fit into this line-up. Too subtle, perhaps, and still too young to be at its most expressive.
The red successes included Treloar's "One Block" (lovely mouthfeel and rich fruit), Charite's complex "Bastien" and Cristia's pure Vieilles Vignes - all under £10 - with only Chateau de Cedre's 2008 Cahors and, especially, Muro's 2004 Rioja Reserva performing well (if sales are a reliable indication) over the £10 mark.
I thought Bressy-Masson's Rasteau "Paul-Emile" the star of the Rhone selection but at least some CDR was thought to be such a good price that a couple of tasters asked for some even though it wasn't on show!
A good selection and an indication of where the market currently is, perhaps. Now to decide what to show this Saturday in Barton Mills!