THE HEAVENLY TASTE
A tasting of festive organic wines
Friday 13th December
£10 in advance
42-46 Bethel Street
Norwich NR2 1NR
The earliest wine was most probably a mistake. Pre-viticultural man picked the sweet and succulent fruits of indigenous vines. They were too plentiful to consume in their short season, and it’s a safe bet that an excess pile began to ferment – and a whole new way of preserving the delicious taste of grapes, of savouring stored sunshine and the fruits of summers past was found.
Stored sunshine can be a great comfort in winter. Whether the prospect of Christmas fills you with joy or dread, a good wine is likely to enhance your mood. So on December 13th, we’re presenting you with six diverse wines to facilitate your seasonal celebration, or to soothe your seasonal woes. We’ll lead you on a liquid journey, from the dry to the sweet, from the “whitest of white” (blanc des blancs), to the deepest of reds, from a bright celebratory aperitif to a gold-hued dessert.
Our pleasure will actively be supporting an organic English winemaker who struggled in 2012. Growing organic grapes in marginal conditions can make for memorable wines – but extreme weather conditions can make it a precarious living. One of the wettest British summers on record left Will Davenport with only 10% of the yields he would normally expect, and his highly-regarded wines have been in short supply since. Here at the Greenhouse, we’ve championed his wines for years, and we’ll be showing our solidarity by beginning the night with his sparkling and still whites.
The geology and soil type of Sussex is very similar to that of Champagne, and in recent years English sparkling wines have twice beaten the most prestigious of Champagne houses to international awards at blind tastings. We will kick-start our tasting with Will Davenport’s Limney Blanc de Blancs, which has been decorated at both the Decanter and UKVA wine awards. And then on to the Limney Dry White, an old favourite, memorably minerally and oft-decorated. They are both wines worthy of celebrating.
After toasting a more favourable 2013 harvest for Will, we’ll cross the channel to sample two versatile food wines. Gamay is better known in Beaujolais, but Domaine de la Garreliere show that it can also make soft and supple red a little further north-west, in the Loire Valley. There’s enough woodland fruit here to make it versatile with food. But if you prefer a red with a fuller, spicier profile, Domaine Grande Bellane’s Valreas may suit your palate, and complement your plate.
The deepest of reds will follow, as we introduce a fortified Malbec from Argentina. Domaine Bousquet is one of the leading exporters of organic wine from South America. Situated in Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes and some 4,000 feet above sea level, they have produced a wine as spectacular as their terroir. Late-picked grapes, prolonged maceration, 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’s one final treat before we release you into the night – a South African Muscat from Stellar Organics, entitled Heaven On Earth. Made from grapes dried on Rooibos straw, sumptuous flavours of honey and apricot abound, making it perfect with puddings rich in dried fruit. (Any ideas?)
You can book a place at The Greenhouse, 24-46 Bethel Street, by paying in advance in the shop.
You’re in search of a place
To continue the chase
Of the heavenly taste
I suggest in that case
That you all come with me’
A Drinking Song, The Divine Comedy, 1994
The evening’s wines in full:
1) Limney Blanc de Blancs, Davenport Vineyards 2007
(Sussex. 11.5%. Grape variety: Reichensteiner. Rrp: £20.95)
2) Limney Dry White, Davenport Vineyards 2010
(Sussex. 11.5%. Grape varieties: Ortega / Faber / Siegerebbe / Bacchus / Huxelrebe. £11.75)
3) Gamay Sans Tra-La-La, Domaine de la Garrelière 2011
(Loire Valley. 13%, £12.50)
4) Valreas, Domaine de la Grande Bellane 2009
(Rhone Valley. 14%. Grape varieties: Syrah / Grenache. £10.25)
5) Malbec, Domaine Bousquet 2009
(Mendoza, Argentina. 17.5%. £12.95 for 500ml bottle)
6) Heaven on Earth Muscat, Stellar Organics 2012
(Namaqualand, Western Cape, Republic of South Africa.
11%. Grape variety: Muscat d’Alexandrie. £10.85 for 375ml bottle)
Feedback from Finer Things, our most recent wine tasting:
‘Really appreciate and enjoy the enthusiasm and the knowledge you bring to these evenings, Tom – they are unmissable!’