A tasting of organic wines fit for the season
Friday 12th December
£13 in advance / £15 on the door
42-46 Bethel Street
Norwich NR2 1NR
Indulgence is healthy. Or it would be, if our indulgences were sustainable. As we approach the New Year (and Xxxxxxmas) most of us will indulge at some level – be it to celebrate with old friends, fortify ourselves for the visit of the in-laws, or warm up after a brisk winter walk.
So let’s be constructive with our indulgences.. Let’s renew soil fertility and encourage biodiversity; and let’s minimise the punishment on our bodies, and avoid the reverse pendulum swing of pain and regret. Let’s indulge responsibly, expansively, organically.-
Which brings us seamlessly to our final organic wine tasting of 2014. Our liquid menu is a global six course meal – a sparkling aperitif; a tangy New World white; two reds from Piedmont; the classic dessert wine of Tuscany, and the closest thing you’ll find to Port – in Argentina. However you’re planning to celebrate (or ignore) Christmas, at least one of these wines should prove a fitting accompaniment.
Having spent a fair chunk of this year exploring French terroir, we return to our customary Italian stronghold to conclude our vinous calendar. The wine world is awash with Prosecco, but good ones are hard to find, and the crisp green apple flavour of Era’s Prosecco won it a commendation at the Decanter World Wine awards.
Then a departure from our usual milieu to sample a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. The tangy versatility of this grape variety has seen a meteoric rise in its popularity. This version is a moderately priced party wine, and a good start to a meal – a perfect match for a goats’ cheese, or a refreshing counterpoint to smoked or salty foods.
Then a quick journey back across the Atlantic, as both our dry reds are drawn from Piedmont. The first is the lighter and fruitier of the two, a Barbera from Castello di Tassarolo, a biodynamic estate specialising in the use of heavy horse. The wine is named after their first Comtois (Titouan), whose gentle tread avoids the soil compaction in the vineyard that heavy machinery can bring about.
This wine is made without the addition of sulphur dioxide; so, too, is the one that follows, Erbaluna’s Vino Rosso Elia, a blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera. Whereas Barbera is known for its fruity drinkability, Nebbiolo is a thicker-skinned grape, which ripens late in the season, and is named after the nebbia, or mists, that are often lying on the vineyard when it’s time to harvest. This is a bigger wine, ideal for those in search of a hearty and potent red.
Indeed, potent wines are not in short supply at this tasting, and something richer and more concentrated in the dampness of winter can prove a seasonal tonic. Vin Santo translates as ‘Holy Wine’; the angels were said to take a share, as the wine was traditionally aged in porous chestnut barrels, which allowed some evaporation (or desiccation) to take place; the resulting controlled oxidation gives the wine its amber to caramel colour, and a nutty, sherry-like note. The ageing of the wine is the culmination of a delicate process, where late harvested grapes are laid to dry on straw, reducing their moisture content and concentrating their sugars – and flavour.
And finally… the deepest of reds, a fortified Malbec from Argentina. Domaine Bousquet is situated in Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes and some 4,000 feet above sea level, and they have produced a wine as spectacular as their terroir. Late-picked grapes, fortification, and 12 months in French oak have produced a moderately sweet wine with chocolate and blackcurrant notes, velvet-smooth tannins and a long, persistent finish.
There will be nibbles to accompany the tasting, but your appreciation may be sharpened if you eat bigger beforehand
And in the spirit of appreciation, thank you to all those who’ve come to our tastings this year – and look forward to many more in 2015.
The evening’s wines in full:
Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry, DOC, Era.
(Veneto, Italy. 11% vol. Shop price £11.95)
Sauvignon Blanc Ventura, Vina La Fortuna 2012
(Chile, 13%. £9.95)
Barbera Titouan, Castello di Tassarolo, DOC, 2012
(Piedmont, Italy. 13.5%, £13.95)
Vino Rosso Elia, Erbaluna, 2011
(Piedmont, Italy. 15% vol. £13.50)
Vin Santo del Chianti Malmantico, Tenuta San Vito,
(Tuscany, 17.5%. £18.95 for 375ml bottle.)
Malbec, Domaine Bousquet 2009
(Mendoza, Argentina. 17.5%. £13.95 for 500ml bottle)
Feedback from recent Greenhouse organic wine tastings:
‘Good diverse selection’
‘Very well organised, but relaxed and informal’
‘Very distinct flavours, which made me think I should spend more time tasting than drinking’
‘Wine is a gateway drug to environmentalism’