When I was asked to do a wine tasting review for BQ magazine with a photo to be included, I thought this seemed like a pretty glamorous gig and that I had finally arrived! Things went somewhat downhill when I got caught in a downpour on the way to the West Park Hotel in Harrogate and turned up looking like a drowned rat for my photo session.
Fortunately, it’s pretty impossible these days for rain to have any sort of impact on my coiffure. I would never call myself a connoisseur of wines although I certainly enjoy a glass or two. When asked what sort of wines I like, I usually say ‘anything as long as it’s red’.
The red I had been given was a South African Pinotage from a vineyard called Cleef’s. Unfortunately, Pinotage is one the very few reds that I sometimes struggle with and so I was a little bit nervous about how this would go.
According to the experts (well, Wikipedia) Pinotage ‘typically produces smoky, bramble and earthy flavours, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has sometimes been criticised for smelling of acetone’.
I can relate to the latter part of the comment if not the former - to me, when Pinotage is first opened, it can often taste like it’s corked (I tried to think of a less harsh description, but that really does describe it to me). Unfortunately, this one proved to be no exception.
I decided to decant it and leave it to breathe for half an hour and try it again later. Luckily, this made quite a difference and, on second tasting, it began to betray some of its origins as I could detect the subtle and complex flavours of a Pinot Noir.
My top tip to anyone drinking this or other Pinotages is to decant it, although I’ve got to say this one wasn’t really my cup of tea.
The second wine was a 2014 Picpoul de Pinet from Chateau de la Mirande in the Languedoc. I must admit that I had never heard of this white grape before and had to Google it. The wine turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Young, fresh and fruity was the expression that immediately sprang to mind.
It would be very pleasant to drink on a nice sunny day and it wasn’t bad at all on a cold November evening either. Apparently, it is particularly good with seafood as it neutralises the iodine in shellfish.
If I was being pretentious, I would say it was an unpretentious wine. This was definitely one I will add to my future shopping list and I was very happy that it enabled me to end on a positive note – although having tried the Pinotage, in future I won’t make the mistake of claiming that I’m happy with any red!
Wine was supplied by Firth & Co Wine Merchant. www.firthandco.com 01677 451 952. Pinotage Cleefs Classic Collection from South Africa 2013, priced at £8.95.
Newton Bank, Newton-le-Willows, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 1TE
Picpoul de Pinet Chateau de la Mirande Coteaux du Languedoc, France 2014, priced at £8.95
Pinotage Cleefs Classic Collection from South Africa 2013, priced at £8.95.
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