The location was a new one, the Bakers' Hall near Tower Hill, and initially I wondered if I was in the right place, as I was greeted by a firmly closed door with a small bell next to it, and the street was absolutely deserted. After a certain amount of dithering and checking that the revolving door of the next door office was nothing to do with the Bakers, I plucked up the courage to press the bell. A minute or so later was it my imagination or did the door creak open? and there stood character reminiscent of Lurch from the Addams Family (maybe I'm being a bit mean here). I gave the special password "wine tasting" and was granted entry.
|Churchill watching over proceedings|
Inside the hall itself, some familiar characters were present including G, S and N, as well as a lot of men in suits who I didn't know. After some preliminary chitchat, we cracked on with the whites. I won't go through these line by line and some of them I've had before but the ones that stood out for me this time were:
In the past I haven't really enjoyed Garaudet's whites but this one now has some age on it and it has come on. Am bearing this in mind for future reference.
This 2009 Puligny from Domaine Joly was also the business. We've been drinking both the Aligote (in kirs) and the Bourgogne Blanc from this domaine and I very much like the precision of the wines. This was a cut above.
Had to check my notes as remember telling G that I'd already bought some of this, which indeed I did, at the spring/summer tasting at Coopers' Hall. Once again it stood out.
This white 1er cru Chassagne from Domaine de la Choupette was also very classy indeed, although at a price tag to match. In the past we've been big buyers of the reds from this domaine and now that access has been granted to the whites, it seems that they're equally good.
Then it was on to the ports, cask samples of the 2011 vintage. I'd already succumbed to six of the Croft and six of the Cockburn on the basis of ACC's tasting notes, so was slightly trepidatious about tasting these in case it turned out I didn't like them, but all was well.
I found the Croft surprisingly fruity and lively - delicious.
The Cockburn's had a richer nose and seemed more serious, to me. Once again, delighted to have some in the bag.
ACC was also showing off new discovery Quinta do Portal, which costs significantly less than the major houses. He had a bottle of the 2003 to compare. I found it interesting but on this occasion I felt like playing safe and sticking to the better-known houses.
I thought the Graham's was very good but it cost significantly more than the Croft/Cockburns and I didn't think it was that good.
The Fonseca, on the other hand, cost the same as the Graham's but was stunning. It was the stand-out port of the tasting and I couldn't resist buying some!
I've never attended a tasting like this before, and it was fascinating to compare the different styles. Normally when I get to taste port, there's one bottle at the end of a meal and so nothing to compare it with. I didn't know enough about the ones being shown here to have preconceptions.
What surprised me was that they were all delicious already, which led us to query the longevity of the vintage. ACC said he thought they would close down in due course and enter the chrysalis phase and would then emerge and be lovely and last for decades to come. I bought some 2007 Warre for my godson and ever since have been rather jealous that I didn't have any vintage port in my own cellar. 2033 is starting to look more promising now!