As a foodblogger and lover of food and drink in general, you can imagine how much I have missed the joys of dining out at restaurants and social events in the last month since lockdown. Hence I was absolutely ecstatic to be presented with the opportunity to participate in my first live-stream Zoom interactive wine tasting organised by Wine Trust 100. Hosted by wine expert and Master of Wines, Alistair Cooper, the experience included a tasting of six incredible wines which he had personally selected, each accompanied by an educational and interesting story and explanation.

My ‘Lockdown Wine Tasting‘ case arrived just in time for my date-night (for one) in the comforts of my own living room. Rushing back from another thankfully less hectic commute home from work, I had just enough time to set up my ‘pop-up wine bar’ Chez Felicia. Dress code: casual.

We started with the Amalaya Calchaquí Valley Torrontés/Riesling 2019, the name Amalaya which translates as ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí.
The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. An intense gold in colour with tints of green, it was highly aromatic with intense note of citrus and grapefruit, typical of Torrontes, with a slight hint of tinned pineapple character to it. Made from 15% Reisling which has naturally higher acidity than most other wine grapes, its freshness and crisp acidity makes it perfect to be enjoyed in springtime. The retail price is £10.50 per bottle which is certainly good value for money.

Next up was a richer Cantina di Monteforte, Vigneto Montegrande Soave Classico Superiore 2017 – the grapes for this single vineyard wine are grown in the ’Montegrande’ vineyard, situated 250-300 metres above sea level and soils are volcanic in origin. Pale gold in colour, the scent was fresh with hints of peaches and stone fruit, and had the characteristic nutty and almond-y notes of a top quality Soave. Aged for 8-10 months in old oak to give the wine a bit more texture, this wine also comes up at a bargain retail price of £9.50.

The final white wine that we tasted was the Greywacke Marlborough Wild Sauvignon 2017. Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd, chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay – the name was adopted in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Aged in old French oak barriques for 12-14 months, the fermentation with wild yeasts exacerbates the flavours of the wine – on the palate you get refreshing layers of fruit, tea, as well as some herbal notes of dill/tarragon. The different textures and smokey character adds complexity to the wine – when asked about food pairings, Alistair recommended slightly richer fish dishes/something creamy like a lobster thermidor. Retailing at a higher price range of £23, it is definitely one to invest in for your next date-night in during lockdown!

My highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the bright and attractive soft blush coloured Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé 2019. Located in the Provence village of Correns, Château Miraval is the first 100% organic village in France. Under the partnership between legendary winemaking family, Famille Perrin, and celebrities Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the wines produced at Miraval have become legendary – in 2012, Château Miraval’s Rosé was named one of the top 100 wines in the world by Wine Spectator magazine.

Unlike many other places where rosé is made as a by-product of grapes that are grown to produce red wine, 90% of the wines in Provence are made to be rosé which speaks for itself from a quality point of view – I remember visiting the beautiful and picturesque Provence for the first time a few years ago and am hoping that the travel restrictions are lifted in time for a summer trip back this year!

From the glass, you get delicate perfumes of raspberries, melons, peaches and white flowers. Although the price is higher than your typical bottle of rosé, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed by investing slightly more in this £19 bottle.

Finishing off our ‘global wine tour’ with a couple of red wines, we then tasted the Giant Steps Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2018. Pinot Noir is perfect for spring and can be on the ‘light side’ or the ‘dark side’ (cue Star Wars Imperial March track) – this came up on the darker fruit spectrum with perfumed cherry characters coming through. The flavours can evolve overnight to result in some secondary flavours – slightly earthy, with characters of mushrooms and tobacco. Alistair recommended pairing this with duck or loin of lamb.

Last but not least, was Spice Route’s ‘Chakalaka’ 2016, made from a blend of six different grape varieties Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Petite Sirah, and Tannat, selected for their suitability to the Swartland growing conditions. Chakalaka, a Zulu word that implies togetherness, is derived from a spicy South African relish, which is similarly a fusion of different flavours.
A deep ruby red in colour, there are aromas dark fruits such as cherry and plum with elegant hints of spice and oak. This wine would pair well with a spring/summer barbecue or anything that is smokey/spicy. Now that we have finally got the sunshine coming through after a long spite of dreary wet weather, all that we have to look forward to is the end of lockdown.

That lockdown wine tasting session was definitely what I needed to help get me motivated and inspired again after weeks of social distancing. If you’re looking for some wine ideas and suggestions for your next night in, I would recommend looking into any of these six wines that we tasted. And if you’ve got any suggestions on any more interesting live-stream sessions that you would recommend, I have my glasses at the ready!

  • I was invited to participate in the Wine Trust 100 Lockdown Wine Tasting experience.
  • The next event of their series of wine tasting events on zoom ‘New Zealand’s Finest’ takes place live on May 1st, 8pm – click here to register.

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