Bottle shock, tastings and merlot….

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
Heritage Road Merlot Reserve 09_close up

Heritage Road Merlot Reserve 09

The last week or so has been uncharacteristically celebrity filled. I’m not talking X-factor finalist or Big Brother ‘stars’, I mean like Bob Geldof, Kristen Scott-Thomas, David Tennant…. you know, real famous people! They joined me at the opening night of Legally Blonde The Musical at The Savoy Theatre. If you enjoyed the film then the show is a must. “OMG, its-like soooo full of energy!”

Not wanting to sound blasé or anything but Sir Bob and David T weren’t even almost the highlight of my week. No, it was on Tuesday afternoon when I bumped into Steven Spurrier at The New Zealand Wine tasting that my heart really started to pound. Who?! I won’t be too surprised if you haven’t heard of him, he’s never appeared on the pages of Grazia magazine or Vogue, and I doubt he ever will. He’s a gentleman of a certain age and a walking, talking, wine trade legend. So great is the impact he’s had on the world of wine that Hollywood has recently made a film about him. It’s called Bottle Shock, put it on your January DVD viewing list you won’t be disappointed.

Steven is played by Alan Rickman and it features the guy that plays young Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek film. Yum. I think I have your attention….

Anyway, it tells the Rom-Com styled story of Steven in the 70’s living in Paris selling wine and teaching about it. It was at a time when French wine ruled, when wine from France was considered the best in the world and the famous French arrogance wouldn’t allow it to be any other way. But against the belief of his peers Steven had a vision that California wine was just as good as many of the French Chateaux and to prove his point he created the ultimate wine tasting ‘The Judgement of Paris‘. He gathered a panel of French judges and set up a never been seen before blind taste-off between a selection of fine California and Bordeaux wines. After all the only way to truly judge a wine is to hide its cover.

It may not sound revolutionary now but in 1976 your average Joe in the UK had never tasted a wine from California, Australia or Argentina – can you imagine?! Not wanting to give the ending away I’ll say just this; the film remains true to the roots of any good Rom Com, the good wines always win and the handsome guy gets the girl, just.

Talking of monumental wine tastings… I held a tasting of my own over Christmas. Not on the scale of the Judgement of Paris (!) but historic in its own little way. It was my first Miss Bouquet wine tasting, ever, with me hosting I mean. I was tasked with entertaining some of Mr Bouquet’s family while he went to the footie. I found myself uncharacteristically nervous, but after two whites, two reds and a couple of bubblies I was in full flow. I was lucky, I guess, that my students were seriously keen and avid listeners, but I’m quietly encouraged that the girl-did-ok as I’ve been asked to hold another one next time I’m up north. Merveilleux!

Since the tasting one of my students, J-Man Cool, has been to stay and proudly presented me with a bottle of Australian red. He smiled as he explained he had chosen it based on some of the guidance I’d given at the inaugural Miss B tasting. I swelled with pride before I absorbed what it was.

Merlot. Oh.

Famously made the grape not to be seen drinking by the other Hollywood wine film back in 2004 – Sideways. I hid my unenthusiasm. Just.

In retrospect I’m pleased I kept my judgement to myself as I’d be seen eating my words. You see opening the Merlot the other day gave me a little bottle shock all of my own. It was lovely! Heritage Road, Reserve Merlot 2009, South East Australia, £9.99 at Sainsbury’s (sometimes on a deal at £4.49 I saw online too!). Freshly cut strawberries and raspberries with rhubarb & custard sweets on the nose. Spices and sweet leather notes on the palate with summer bramble flavours finished with a touch of toffee’d black fruits for good measure. Delish.

Bad me, bad me. Steven Spurrier would be ashamed, how could I have fallen into the trap of judging a wine by its cover. And J-Man Cool, what can I say? You chose well young padawan, consider yourself top of the class!

Saturday 23rd January 2010

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