2 July 2016

My first ever Naked Wines Tasting Tour

At the beginning of the tasting
Ever since I joined Naked Wines in April 2012 I've wanted to go to one of the events on their tasting tour. But for one reason or another (work, then pregnancy then babysitter) I've been unable to go.

So, I was delighted this year when I was neither pregnant nor working and the tour was coming to Southampton, on a Sunday!

The tasting programme
The pre-event marketing claimed there was going to be 30 wine makers and 139 wines to try. I literally could not have been more excited! Plus, all the Angels on the Naked Wines forums were chatting about it and I literally could not wait. I was so excited that I had three cocktails beforehand, which in hindsight was an error....

The tasting started at 2pm and all the visitors joined an orderly queue outside the Guildhall in Southampton (we are so British!). When we got in, there was a huge hall full of wines. It was just fabulous.

139 wines to try
I've been to lots of tasting events before and they have often been pretty snobby. However, it immediately became clear that this was not that sort of event. In fact, the organisers were actively encouraging us to take selfies with the winemakers (I'm yet to discover if I won the selfie competition!). 

With Serena from Cordero
wines and ArchAngel Leon
Plus, nearly all of the people working the stands were the winemakers themselves, not just some rep or agency staff. I guess some of that comes down to the whole Naked Wines ethos. The money that the Naked Wines Members (or Angels) invest into Naked Wines goes towards funding independent wine growers. So, I guess for most of the winemakers attending the event, this was an opportunity to promote their wines to their key audience.

Rocking it like a redhead with
Jen Pfeiffer.
Either way, I had an amazing time. I chatted to loads of winemakers, other Naked Angels and also some of the Archangels (Archangels are the elite members of the Naked Wines crew and their job is to help promote Naked Wines via the forums and events such as the tasting tour). Everyone was super friendly, no-one mocked my pitiful wine knowledge and most of all I tried some delicious wines!

My highlights included (and there were loads, so I'm sorry if I've missed you out):

Ian Kellet and son from
Old Winchester Hill
- Meeting Serena from Gianfranco and Serena Cordero wines. We got married in Italy and we are a bit obsessed with Italian wines. In fact, I am drinking one of their Barbarescos that we bought at the tasting as we speak! She was so friendly and I'd never tried any of their wines before and I loved them.
- Rocking it like a redhead with Jen Pfeiffer. Jen Pfeiffer is an Australian winemaker and something of a legend on the Naked Wines Forums. Again, I'd never tried any of her wines before and I especially loved her "The Rebel Bubbles", which was light, fresh and zingy and my new favourite sparkling wine.
Rod Easthope, an absolute
- Trying Naked Wines' first English grown wine. For ages, Naked Wines has been promising us an English wine. And, finally we have one and it is grown just down the road from where I live. Ian Kellett was there with his son serving his new "Old Winchester Hill" sparkling wines. At the end of the tasting, we ended up stood chatting while drinking a bottle of Gerd Stepp Reisling. Absolutely delicious and what a nice man. I hope his venture is a huge success.
- Meeting one of my favourite Naked Wines growers, Rod Easthope. I love his pinot noirs, I love his Sauvignon Blancs and I got to try his Merlot Cab Franc which I'd never tasted before. The man lived up to my expectations! 
Lovely Serena from Cordera
- Finally speaking face to face with some of the Naked Wines Crew. Highlights were (very slurred) thanking the event organiser Seb for organising such an incredible event. And meeting some of the Archangels including lovely Leon who even indulged me with a selfie. 

Overall, it was a great event. The brochure encouraged us to use the spittoons. However, to my chagrin, I did not and drank far too much. I lost my brochure, I broke my selfie stick. I took photos of people and have no idea who they were. 

Who are these people? Does
Anyone know?
If you get the chance to go along to one of the events, I'd really urge you to. The tickets were only £15 and you got the price of those back if you ordered a case of wine (which we did). And, for that price you get a lot of really high quality wines, great conversation and a lot of fun. My advice though? Use the spittoons and don't have three cocktails beforehand.....

What I drank on holiday in Spain

If you read my blog, you'll see that I recently went on holiday to Almeria in Spain

When we arrived I was completely flummoxed as to what wine to buy! I don't often drink Spanish wine, for no reason other than that I don't know that much about it. I also think that Spanish wines have got a bit of a bad reputation in England as "cheap plonk"!

And, my lack of knowledge became very evident when we tried some of the wines. We bought quite a lot of turkeys from the supermarket, quite a few I actually (shock horror!) poured away.

Nearly all the restaurants we went to offered almost exclusively Spanish wines with no description of taste, dryness or style. And, likewise, very few of the bottles in the supermarket had tasting notes on the label (in English or Spanish).

So I thought I'd let you know what we drank and actually enjoyed, in case you go to Spain sometime soon.

Guti Verdejo from de Alberto

Before we went to Spain I'd recently enjoyed a Spanish Verdejo by Franck Massard which I got from Naked Wines. His Herbis Verdejo is from the Rueda region of Spain and most of the wines we enjoyed were Rueda Verdejos. This De Alberto Guti was was crisp and dry and went perfectly with our seafood platter. It also had a white, plastic cork which I found very delightful. It cost us about 10 Euro and I don't think it is currently available in the UK. 

Colección Cristina Calvache Blanco de Alboloduy

It is possible that part of the reason I enjoyed this wine so much was the sun, sea and Sangria. However, at the time I loved it! A very pale yellow wine, fruity but balanced with acidity. Lovely flavours of melon and apricot. We had it very, very cold and I would guess it is probably best served this way. This wine is actually grown in Almeria from a grape I have never tried before called the Jaén Blanco. Worth a try.

Jose Pariente Varietal Verdejo
Another Verdejo from the Rueda region. It smelt slightly of aniseed so I was concerned it was going to be sweet. However, it was fruity but citrusy. I found it to be very crisp and dangerously drinkable. I think we paid about 7 Euro for the wine and have found the same wine in the UK on the Selfridges website for £14.99.

Matsu El Recio 2013 Toro

My husband had seen this wine in Majestic before we went on holiday. Each of the bottles carries a photo from three generations of wine growers. The "El Ricio" wine means 'the tough one' and is grown from wines that are 90-100 years old. Not only did the bottle look really cool, the wine itself was delicious. The Tempranillo grape was very silky, velvety and smooth with lots of black fruitiness. We enjoyed it with some steak and it went perfectly. Retails at £13.99 in Majestic, we bought it for half the price in Almeria.

Spain has a reputation for cheap plonk. And, yes there was lots of that. You could easily buy bottles of red and white wine for 3 or 4 Euro. However, most of the ones we enjoyed were a bit more expensive than that. But, even in the restaurants, we found the wines to be really reasonably priced and much affordable in the UK. However, you have to be careful what you buy as a lot of the white wines are very sweet and the red wines can be quite harsh.