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Sampling A New Home

Photo of Wine Group in Church Gate House

In October, as well as tasting an intriguing selection of vintages, the Moleside Wine Club also sampled a new home. Waitrose was the supplier visiting guru Trudy Welsh put under the spotlight in Church Gate House and as always she included at least a couple of very unusual wines. Apart from one interloper from Laithwaites this tasting was a veritable world tour available from a very familiar source of supply.

 From New Zealand we had a Riesling (pronounced reesling not riseling according to our polyglot tutor) and a Pinot Grigio, both from Marlborough. For readers not familiar with the wine growing areas of NZ this is in north of the South Island. Our trip down under included a detour via Romania from where we tried another Pino Grigio, so we could compare the same grape from two very different geographies.

From NZ it was back to France, and a Gewurtztraminer from Turckheim in Alsace, followed by a quick trip to the Piedmont in Northern Italy and an Albarossa – your correspondent’s spellchecker tried to change that to Albatross four times! The Gewürztraminer was liked by most of us, regrettably the Albarossa got a thumbs down from everyone – including Trudy.

Albarossa is a red wine made in the area around the town of Alba, whose other claims to fame are white truffles, and the manufacture of both Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. And how many of you know that they are made by the same company? Or that the precursor to Ferrero Rocher was originally sold in blocks and contained no chocolate. Your correspondent certainly didn’t until he read this fascinating article on Ferrero Rocher. And just to round off this ‘Not many people know that…’ episode – they also own the Kinder brand. Pity about the wine, but you can read about how the grape was developed here

The Laithwaites interloper, from the Cotes de Catalanes in Languedoc Roussillon, was a lovely smooth red made with Grenache grapes, the primary type found in the Rhône valley. From the mediterranean coast of France it was a quick hop to Mendoza in Argentina, and a very nice Malbec from Finca Lalande. The Andes certainly make an impressive backdrop for a winery.

Our next stop was Italy again and it was here that Trudy  unveiled her unusual wine. And in this case it was very unusual! The red wines of northern Italy, for example Barolo and Barbarosso are frequently very full of tannins, not unlike Bordeaux wines.

But this one had been made in the passito style, the same method as the appasimento style of southern Italy, that involves drying the grapes to concentrate the natural sugars. By the way passito is Italian for raisin. It may have been unusual but it was delicious. 

We also tried a very pleasant Sangiovese from Romagna, which led to some wistful reminiscing by some of the group (no names, no pack-drill) before returning to France for the last of our wines.

Trudy had her final surprise for us here – some of her home-made apple tray bake. Delicious as the tray bake was on it’s own, our last wine was a Monbazillac and the perfect accompaniment. A slightly musty nose did not impair the delicious sweetness of this dessert wine from the commune of the same name in the Dordogne. 

And that musty nose? it reflects the botrytis fungus that is allowed, in fact encouraged, to grow on the grapes and has the same effect, sort of, as the passito/appassimento methods.

As you can see we don’t just taste wine. Trudy introduces us to all sorts of background information about the growers, the geography of growing areas, the history of the grapes and why wines taste the way they do. We all learn something every month, whether it’s the vexed question of what terroir actually means, the difference schist makes to flavour, or the never ending discussion on the good or bad impact of tannins. Add to that the fun we have exchanging our own experiences while on holiday, or why we prefer specific grape or wine types, and it’s a great hour and a half. Contact Bob John if you want an invitation to our November meeting.

Moleside Wine Club wines of October 2022
Here are all the wines we tasted in the same order as they occur in the report. They will link you directly to the wine on the seller’s website – assuming they still stock it.

New Zealand Marlborough Riesling

Romanian Pinot Grigio

New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Grigio

Alsace Gewurztraminer

Piedmont Albarossa

Languedoc Roussilon Côtes Catalanes

Argentine Malbec    On offer saving £3.50 per bottle at time of writing.

Italian Barbera Passito

Italian Sangiovese Romagna

French Monbazillac dessert wine