Time to actually blog again, and hopefully in a more interesting way! The other day I, my fiancée, and four very good friends decided to have a wine and cheese evening. It had been brewing for some time, as we had somewhat evolved into a dining (and singing) club over the previous few months. For a bit of variety we decided to replace dinner with canapés, and focus more on the wines.
I therefore, armed with a reasonable budget, went to the excellent and highly recommended Oxford Wine Company. We had decided to use this opportunity to learn a bit more about French red wine, and to also see if we could actually tell the difference between reasonably cheap wine (£20 per bottle), and more expensive wine (£45 per bottle). In the end, we purchase 3.5 bottles of wine, as follows:
1. Saint-Aubin 1er Cru ‘Le Charmois’, Château de Chassagne Montrachet (2006)
This wine is a Burgundy (a Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region), and was the lightest in colour and depth of the three red wines purchased. We all agreed that this wine was an excellent way to start the evening.
2. Château Jean Voisin, St. Émilion Grand Cru (2002)
This wine was a real treat. The tannins were first very noticeable, but after about 20 minutes of sitting in the glass and warming slightly, they dropped off revealing an exquisitely smooth wine, which went excellently with our varieties of cheese (see picture) and the end of the canapés. The primary grape here is merlot, with some cabernet sauvignon in the blend, typical of “Right Bank” Bordeaux appellations.
3. Château Dufort Vivens, 2ème Grand Cru Classé, Margaux
This wine was the most expensive of the three, and the oldest, being a 1995 vintage. This is a left-bank wine being a mixture of the same two grape varieties as the St émilion above, but this time with a higher proportion of cabernet sauvignon. This wine was really very very good, with a huge complexity of flavours throughout. The problem we found was that this actually made it harder to drink than the less complex St émilion. This is a wine I’d definitely want to try again, but this time with some tasting guidance and the ability to take some tasting notes. Wines of this style typically age very well (some only reach their best after several decades) and this was evident here.
4. 37.5cl Château Coutet, 1er Cru Classé, Barsac (1998)
A dessert wine to finish with, and only a mouthful each. This was a typical dessert wine with a thick syrupy colour and taste, but surprisingly refreshing. For a dessert wine, this is actually quite an early drinker (only 13 years old) and proved this by being very drinkable on the day!
Just for the record, the cheeses consumed were a mature cheddar, some gruyère, manchego and some particularly excellent stilton.
I’d drink all the wines again, but the one I’ve bought another bottle of so far was wine no. 2, which will be excellent on its own, or with some Easter lamb!