I found the group sitting in the courtyard necking this Paul Pothelet champagne, provided by P. It wasn't familiar to any of us, but was apparently a grower champagne which had been bought in France after some sort of accident involving knocking over boxes in the shop (!) The consensus was that it made a good aperitif - zingy, fresh, light, floral, citrussy and generally gluggable.
Since there were seven of us present on this occasion, the fizz didn't last long so we moved on to my contribution, this Osborne Sibarita 30 year old oloroso, which I got from the Wine Society. Earlier on, G and I had debated whether this should be served as an aperitif or with cheese - in the end I think it was both!
It had an intensely nutty nose and was very dry with a great finish. Generally it went down pretty well, with the notable exception of T who decided it wasn't his thing at all - never mind eh... The chemist present detected tones of liquorice and acetone and there were comments that it would have benefited from some nibbles. It would probably have been perfect with a pecan nut or two, so I must file that idea away for future reference because I expect to order some more in due course. The WS also sell a 30 year old Palo Cortado from the same producer which may be the next thing on my hit list.
Then we moved upstairs where a host of goodies was waiting for us. With our starters we had this 2009 Bernkasteler Doctor Spatlese riesling from Wegeler provided by G, which he picked up at Frankfurt airport. For me this brought back happy memories of the Bernkastler Bratenhofchen which was an early purchase of mine, about 15 years ago, made by Deinhard (NB not to be confused with Die Hard).
The Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard is in the Mosel valley and is reckoned to be one of the best vineyards in Germany This wine was medium-sweet and I think everyone liked it. G got pears and apricots on the nose, while T's comments are hard to decipher even at this relatively early stage in the evening but seem very favourable. It went down easily and would have had a considerable future if we hadn't drunk it already. Memo to G: next time you're in Frankfurt airport, fill your boots!
Alongside this, we also drank this Chateau Ksara Sunset rose 2011, from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, provided by T who describes it as his favourite affordable pink and I could see why. It was aromatic - T said lavender, D got flower petals - very interesting and quite different from a normal rose. Good stuff, with a long finish.
With our main courses we had this Cote de Brouilly 2011 from Domaine du Chateau de la Valette also provided by P. This was considered good, with intense black and red fruit, but some felt that it might improve with age.
We also had a red wine that I failed to take a photo of - sorry! This was from South Africa, La Vierge pinot noir 2011 provided by ACC. The failure to take a pic is particularly annoying as it had a striking label. I have found it on the internet instead:
And that was what exactly we got with the last wine of the evening, this 1966 Noval tawny port bottled in 1984. It went down very well with the group, with descriptions of molasses and dried figs - it was sweet and smooth. G was particularly inspired at this stage and has written "Harris tweed with leather patches".
So there you have it, for those who read this blog to find out what they thought about things. We ended up sitting in the courtyard again with the aid of the snazzy heater activated by a red button on the wall, and the great snuff horn was brought out, before sadly being knocked over. I did take a photo of the carnage but it wouldn't be seemly to put it on a respectable blog like this. Shortly after that, we were marched inside to avoid further rowdiness, which was probably just as well.
This evening was particularly in the spirit of the SPNS, I think. Thanks everyone!