It got busier!!
What were the highlights guys? Apart from meeting @Ewan clearly!
At least you were out of the thunder and lightning…
Sorry, getting back was a total nightmare (my train was stuck unmoving for 3 hours after a lightning strike took out the signals), and didn’t get home until 1am. Then been frantically busy ever since. I will write up some thoughts and some highlights when I get a minute, hopefully later today.
Sorry to hear that Mike, must have been a nightmare.
Where I was umpiring the main storms were out in the Firth of Clyde and whilst we got half an hour of heavy rain it passed through quick enough to get restarted quite soon.
Sorry I missed the day, but these things are better for me in the autumn/winter.
Made more of a nightmare by how close to Inverness we were - just at the top of Slochd. Could almost have walked there in 3 hours (well cycled maybe!) The A9 was only a stone’s throw away and if we’d been allowed to get off the train I certainly could have hitched back in less time!
Sounds very frustrating. All downhill from there too!
About 15 years ago, I got stuck in a train in snow between Kilmarnock and Glasgow. We were there for 8 hours! Several folk did get off and walked across the fields to nearest village…anyway I hope that it didn’t spoil the day too much and that the wine event itself was worth it.
Rotten - if it’s any consolation I got stuck in Preston while we were waiting for a new driver, so I got home at 1am too, but then I had further to go than you did. Great to meet you and @JD1892 on Saturday. We must do it again sometime.
First of all, despite some following moans, I did enjoy this and think it was worth going to. However I did have some issues. I have only been to one previous tasting like this which was the TWS Bordeaux tasting in Brighton last year which I found to be a far more satisfactory experience being much more focused. There are a number of reason for this, not all of which are the organisers fault:
- There was a lot of Champagne and other sparkling on show. Out of 21 tables there were three tables of just Champagne plus one Nyetimber table. I don’t like sparkling.
- There was a lot of white on show. I’m not very fond of white, I don’t dislike it I’d just always rather be drinking red. I did try several (honest!!!) but sadly found none that I’d want to buy.
- Because the event covered wine in general there was a huge spread of countries, regions, grapes, styles and producers, and therefore almost no opportunity to compare like with like. You might taste a Bordeaux, followed by a Piedmont, followed by a south African, followed by a South American then a North, then a New Zealand, then an Australian, then a Lebanese and so on. My palate was so all over the place that I hardly knew what I was drinking. How the pros do this I do not know! I would be happier with more focused tastings.
- There were too many people: it was frequently a serious scrummage to get near to a table. Associated with this was an element of drunkeness; I saw several people being assisted out very unsteadily and i noticed (and overheard) numerous people whose sole objective appeared to be ensuring they drank (no spitting out with these folk) at least their ticket’s worth of wine.
- Taking out the sparkling and whites, which I didn’t look at too closely, there was a very strong bias towards sub £15 wines. For example there were two Fronsacs, a couple of generic Bordeauxs but, dare I say it, nothing from the more ‘serious’ appelations such as Margaux, Pomerol, etc. So there was a lot of very good value for money easy drinking wines but few more ‘serious’ wines. I’m not knocking the cheaper wines but I’m generally happy to take a £10 punt on an unknown bottle of wine though less so on a £40 bottle. So I’m far more interested in tasting the latter.
I went to the Lebanon masterclass with Michael Karam which was extremely interesting but was far more about the history of winemaking in Lebanon than about the actual wines in front of us for tasting (3 red and 3 white from Chateau Ksara). As I say very interesting but I was hoping to be lead through tasting the wines but that was not really what happened; they were only tasted as brief asides from the history presentation with no more comment than you’d get in a wine description on the TWS website.
Okay so now you’re probably thinking I’m just a grumpy old wine snob, but I’m not really. I did enjoy it but felt I wanted something more than was offered. However there were some standouts for me:
TWS (World): Exhibition Chianti Classico 2016 was a great reasonably priced example of classico. £12.50
Fine Wine Partners (Australian): Grant Burge, Corryton Park Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia 2013 £30.00. Lovely fruity cab with a hint of mint to it.
Ken Forrester Wines (South African): Renegade, South Africa 2014 £12.35. South Rhone style mix of grapes and South Rhone style of wine. Lovely, savoury and spicy.
Batwine (Italy): Sampietrana, Settebraccia, Italy, 2015 £18.00. Not my usual style and a new grape to me (negroamaro) but very nice, smooth and balanced with some spice.
Terroir (World: “artisanal wines with a ‘story’” - hints of Naked there and their nattily dressed rep seemed more interested in the story than the wine!): Cantine di Marzo, Aglianico Irpina, Italy, 2016 £12.95. Different but nice. Bitter cherry, perfume and some tannin.
Chateau de Mediterranean (General Mediterranean, but only Lebanese on show): Chateau St Thomas, Cuvee Les Emirs, Lebanon 2011 £22.99. Lovely and the only wine I bought there. A blend of Cab S, Syrah and Grenache. Spicy and smooth; very very nice!
De Burgh (World): Bodegas Aldonia, Rioja, Spain, 2016 £15.49. Something a little different: a Rioja made with 90% garnacha (grenache); very nice, black fruit and spice, still young but, despite fairly prominent tannins, was actually very smooth in the mouth (or my palate was already getting a little numb).
De Burgh (World): Chateau Moulin Haut Laroque, Fronsac, Bordeaux France 2002 £29.99. Lovely, slightly rustic claret. Smooth, easy drinking, beautifully balanced (but then it is 17 years old!). Good price for a mature Bordeaux. (note to self: must try more Fronsac: not tried much but never been disappointed).
Go Brazil Wines (Brazil [well duh!]): Campos de Cima, Tres Bocas, Brazil 2016 £16.00. I’ve generally found tannat wines just a little too different for me but this Tannat led wine (with Cab S and Ruby Cab), whilst definitely different in my book, was also very nice; smooth and savoury.
Chateau Ksara (Lebanon): Chateau Ksara, Reserve du Couvent, Lebanon 2016, £13.49. Very impressed with this one though still a bit young, another couple of years I reckoned and Michael Karam agreed (woohoo, or was he just being nice to me?). Fruit, spice and soft tannins. Would have bought there but their festival price of £10 is the same as TWS’s normal price so will get some in good time.
So there you have it. Was I being a little grumpy? Yes, maybe, but I think it’s just the format is wrong for me. I’d much rather go to a more focused tasting like most of the TWS ones.
Sorry for drivelling on for so long but maybe of interest to some!
Chateau Ksara - who else has tried this?
Great summary @MikeFranklin and it confirms a lot about these general wine tasting events - too busy, the wines on show are often too varied and it is good to be able to taste something a bit ‘outside-of-the-usual’, price-wise. Just goes to show what a good job TWS does in hosting so many tastings in lots of cities across the country.
Do provide feedback to Tom as they do act on these things. The numbers were reduced at the Edinburgh event in 2018 following much feedback that the room was too crowded in 2017.
I’ve been to the Edinburgh November event for the last few years and tend to get there when the doors open and try a few things that I really want to try (generally fizz or whites). I usually book two or all three masterclasses and may try some fortifieds or sweet wines at the end (and the TWS table) but I generally have palate fatigue by that point. So overall I don’t spend much time in the main hall.
Tom has made a conscious effort to target smaller independents for the stalls at his events rather than the large corporates. Generally the wines are fairly modest, however there usually are a few things or interest. I generally view the walk round ticket as just a way to access the more interesting masterclasses. Recent masterclasses have featured Ken Forrester, Piper heidseick, Quinta do Noval and Ewan did a good one on “To decant or not to decant…” When you factor in the whole ticket cost its still very much cheaper than masterclasses at Decanter-type events.
To be fair to Tom, having participated in more of his (and others’) events than I care to remember, while we were busy all day at our table the room wasn’t overly full in comparison to other events. As an exhibitor, I felt the attendance was good and not too overcrowded - but I suppose it’s all relative. Having masterclasses eases the crowd for 30-45 mins at a time, too.
It was a successful day for us, with some new members joining (which is, after all, the main point for us) and many members there trying some new wines to them.
Excellent that it was a good day for you and I agree that the room itself wasn’t too crowded. It was just around the tables. I fully appreciate that this is a commercial venture and it almost certainly needed the numbers that were there. The difficulty was people hanging around the tables rather than stepping away when they had the taste in their glass. Also difficult to complain about as, of course, people (including myself) want to discuss them with the reps.
I think the bigger problem for me was the lack of focus due to it bein a generic wine tasting rather than a targeted one. Again, I knew this beforehand, so can’t complain and I now know that this style of tasting is maybe not for me.
Had I been on the look out for good suppliers of wine this would have been excellent with some very interesting vendors. But I’ve already got the WS so I’m already sorted on that front!!!
The last week has been a bit hectic and now on holiday so apologies for my lack of response to this thread. I don’t have any notes with me so it will be a bit of a summary!
I agree with Mike in that from a tasting perspective there was no structure to it. 21 tables with many having random selections, however it was a fantastic opportunity to try new wines. It was very difficult to get to the tables at times which was partly due to people trying a number of wines at a given table rather than having a plan of say trying particular styles or regions first and moving around the room…
Fortunately I love Champagne and started with the Deveaux masterclass. The Cote de Bar is a new area of Champagne and if my memory serves me well they only use Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and not Pinot Meunier, which is fairly unique in Champagne me thinks. We tasted 5 wines; the house NV; two 5 year old (can’t remember the difference between the two - think the dosage was different!!); a 2008 vintage and to finish a 2005 in magnum. The wines were excellent and delivered the usual toasty, biscuity, brioche Champagne flavours with a real intensity, especially in the older wines, which is what you would expect. On a show of hands the 2008 won the day - it was a fantastic year for Champagne after all! I purchased a couple of the 2008 which I’ll look forward to.
The Champagne masterclass was early (12.45) so when it finished the room wasn’t that busy and it gave the opportunity to get around and see what was on offer. I was surprised to see Champagne Gosset represented and sampled their offerings including the Grand Brut Rose, the Grand Millesime 2006 and the wonderful Celebris 2007. Just next to the TWS was Charles Heidsieck and again a fine range on offer including the Blanc de Millenaires 2004, a real treat which was on,y served after you had worked your way through other wines - a real hardship! To complete the West of Scotland ‘Route touristique du Champagne’ I signed off on the bubbles at Nyetimber. I must admit to liking English sparkling wine and had recently been at the excellent Greyfriars vineyard near Guildford, so was looking forward to this. It didn’t disappoint and tested around 3 or 4. The Blanc de Blanc stood out for me. There were a lot of other sparkling wines on offer and Mike mention Bat and Bottle who I thought were superb. I bought a couple of the Col Sandago Wildbacher brut rose £17.70. This was a new variety for me and a wine with real personality.
I met quite a few interesting people and whilst I agree with Mike that a few people had the intention of tasting everything! I found the room had a great deal of warmth with most people happy to chat and share experiences.
Feels like I’m going on a bit now so I’ll wind this up. Highlights for me was the Settebraccia that Mike liked. Also Ken Forrester wines provided a great opportunity to try some lovely Chenin Blanc. Ewan had the Poggiopiano Chianti which was superb and one I’ll definitely purchase. Valhalla’s Goat had a table with a lot of the Greywacke offerings and it is good to know that Glasgow has a good wine outlet as I’ve often struggled with this in Glasgow. Other than the fizz I left with 2 Settebraccia and 2 Reserve du Couvent from Ksara.
Sorry to hear about your travel issues. Thankfully Mrs JD was driving and after a good Pizza in Paesano around the corner I was sleeping by Hamilton and home by 7!
I’ve just been notified of my refund from Scotrail so fair play to them!
Glad to hear that Mike. All’s well that ends well!
Paesano is great pizza isn’t it. And a really good vibe. Shame we don’t have one in Edinburgh
The vibe is really good and the value it provides means it’s always busy. I think I raised a few eyebrows carting in my box of wine though!