Tastour Monthly Mini-Tasting Review
We attended Tatsour’s mini-tasting this month, which focused on dessert wines, or as Tastour called them, ‘stickies’. I very much enjoy sweet wines more so than their regular red and white counterparts, so was looking forward to trying some new ones and learning how they are produced.
The whole downstairs brassiere area at The Red Herring in the city was reserved for the event. Kelly, Tastour’s founder and host for the night, made everyone feel very welcome as they entered and signed in. We were handed tasting sheets and chose our seats, leaving about quarter of an hour for socialising before the tasting began.
In total there were about 50 people, mainly professionals still in work attire, enjoying winding down their week with good company and alcohol. Kelly informed us there are a number of regulars who attend for the social side as much as the learning. Already placed on the tables were crackers, Stilton, Cashel Blue, dark chocolate drops and walnuts, which formed part of the tasting later on.
The session started off by discussing with our neighbours how we prefer the sweetness of our wines, as an ice-breaker. A surprising number for people at a dessert wine tasting said they preferred dry wines, but we were to find out that not all dessert wines are very sweet.
We were then handed two wine samples from the Tastour assistants, and were told that these wines were the last available in the World as Kelly buys wines and ages them to share with Tastourians. We were asked to decide which was sweeter without tasting them. The second one smelt more sugary and had a darker amber colour to it, which we were told was an indication of sweetness. As we swirled the wines, Kelly explained that the more pronounced the legs of the wine (the lines the wine makes when rolling back into the glass), the higher the viscosity and thickness and therefor the sweeter the flavour. Kelly was an amusing tutor, telling jokes as she explained the wine tasting techniques, and made the evening entertaining as well as interesting.
The first wine we tasted was a Henri Ehrhart 2009 from Alsace, which was was not very sweet for a dessert wine. It it had a nice flavour with tones of peach, and I felt I could have drank with a meal. It was interesting that this wine paired well with the Stilton, however, when we tried it with cashel blue cheese, the combination made the cheese turn sour and they did not go together at all. The second wine was also a Henri Ehrhart, but from 2007. Whilst this wine was fruity as well, it was much sweeter and better accompanied both the strong Cashel Blue and creamy Stilton cheeses.
Kelly explained to the group the main factors that affect the sweetness of the wine. She was a very knowledgeable host, whose enthusiasm for her topic was infections. She told us the first is how long the grapes are left on the vine – the longer it is, the sweeter the produce. The second is the presence of ‘noble rot’, a grey fungus that can grow on the grapes and helps produce particularly sweet wine. The third is the temperature the grapes, as the colder it is the less liquid is produced and the more sugary and concentrated the juice is.
Then the final taster for the evening was handed out, the rarest wine style Eiswine. To be classified as such, the grapes must be -7 degrees in Germany and -8 degrees in Canada, and if temperatures don’t reach the minimum required there is no production that year. Also, as the grapes are frozen it takes 40 times more grapes than normal wine to produce. I was expecting something quite special after this, and was not disappointed. The Kendermann’s Rheinhessen 2005 honey taste exploded it the mouth with just one sip. It was amazingly sweet, but not sickly and there were fruit aromas making it taste surprisingly light. It went very well with the walnuts and the dark chocolate drops, in fact I could have gone back for seconds!
Kelly asked if there was anyone who wasn’t sure about sweet wines at the beginning but had changed their mind after the tasting, and a few hands went up. It was interesting that there were a mix of favourites, as the Eiswine was a clear favourite for me, but some found it too sweet and preferred the first or second taster wines.
After wrapping up the tasting, the bar was opened and people mingled and networked for the rest of the evening. The event made a great end to the week, and we recommend trying one (or more) of Tastour’s monthly mini-tastings in the city.
- Wine Mini-Tasting and Social Drinks (monthly)
- Foodie Trends & History of London Walks (monthly)
- Secret Wine & Cheese Tasting in English Rose Garden (1st June 2013)
- Royal Ascot& Nino Franco Prosecco (22nd June 2013)
- Ice Cream & Liqueur Pairing: A Walk & Garden Party Lunch (20th July 2013)