Friday, February 13, 2009

Boutinot at the Tower of London

To the Armouries at the Tower of London for the Boutinot tasting.

I enjoy this venue as there is a lot of space as well as daylight. The layout was good, with the cheap and cheerful (ie house wines) on one long table by the entrance; then spanning the room were tables with wines from all over, many with the producers pouring as well as answering questions and fielding comments about their wines. Paul Boutinot himself was presenting his South African wines, and I enjoyed the False Bay Chenin Blanc 2008: bright, crisp, dry with lovely apply fruit.

As I tend to do at tastings with a lot on offer I hone in on particular wines, and their producers. Paul McArdle of Fonty's Pool was on hand to tell me about how carefully he monitors the fruit harvested in his vineyards in Pemberton, Western Australia since he became CEO three years ago. Fonty's Pool has come on in leaps and bounds since Paul took over - and it shows!
His Sauvignon/Semillon 2008 is well rounded, dry, fruity with bright acidity.

The wines of Chile were showing very well too: as well as Cesar Moralis of Emiliana showing a range of the VOE organic wines and the exciting Novas Winemaker Selections white and red, Felipe Muller-East offered some good wines from Limari, in the north of Chile, under the Tabali label. And, of course, the Casa Marin individual vineyard wines from the coastal vineyards of San Antonio were as good as ever.

There were good wines from Spain, Portugal and Italy and then I reached France, where I met Philippe Girard again and tried his wines: two vintages of his straight Sancerre and a tank sample of Silex, made from grapes grown in flinty vineyards, showing an exciting minerality.

At the end of the morning I enjoyed meeting and tasting the Rhône wines made by Eric Monnin, Boutinot's inspired winemaker in the south of France. His Les Cérisiers (aptly named) is a pale pink rosé was dry with good, yes, cherry notes; then I tried a great full-bodied, deeply flavoured fruity 2007 Gigondas, with a long life ahead of it; and two vintages of Cairanne, La Côte Sauvage. The 2006 was gorgeous but the 2005 ("We have a few magnums left!") was even better, a great example of a warm vintage.

The tasting was completed by a good, simple lunch, though not in this fine tent pitched in the Tower.

Lunch was enhanced by this great array of fruit!

With a nod in the direction of the mayor of London, hopefully working hard for the Tidal Thames,

we set off for a much needed walk past Tower Bridge

towards Limehouse, with Canary Wharf on the horizon.

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