Thursday, 21 May 2015

Out of Bordeaux Dinner @ The Meat Co #outofbdx


They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

New World vs Old World (?)

As winemakers in the New World have looked to make their mark, they seem to have been faced with a choice: take traditional and time-honoured techniques and styles and replicate them in a new environment, or break with the shackles of the tradition and trail-blaze.

Given the influence and power that Old World wines have within the consumer market it is not surprising that many of the New World winemakers appear to choose the former as opposed to the latter. 

In reality, however, I think it is a little more complicated than this. What we see is exciting, dynamic young winemakers who travel from the New World to the Old, where they eagerly learn from the greats with their centuries of history, customs and inherited knowledge.

They then take this learning back to their home countries where they develop this understanding based on their local conditions and situations. Importantly, however, they are free from the laws and regulations of the Old World, allowing them to innovate, experiment and develop an identity of their own. 

MauricioVegetti
This was the theme of a dinner that I attended this week as part of London Wine Week. The event was hosted by Connoisseur Estates at The Meat Co., who are a wine importer and wholesaler that specialises in both the Old World and the New.

They wanted to feature two wine makers from different continents who both shared one trait - making wines that appeared reminiscent of Bordeaux.

The first producer was Mauricio Vegetti from Gauchezco in Mendoza, Argentina, and the second was Philip Constandius of Oldenburg Wines in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Both producers were over in the UK promoting their vineyards as part of London Wine Week and I must say that it was a real honour to meet them.

I earnestly encourage anyone who has an interest in wine to spend some time visiting vineyards and meeting winemakers - to see what they do and to hear them talk about their wines is to understand what a passion they have and how much pride they have in their wines.


The Dinner (and wines!)


We started the dinner with a glass of 2014 Gauchezco Torront├ęs (£30.41 per 3 bottles on Amazon*) which had a beautiful floral note on the nose, but was nice and steely on the palate. I've had some rather mediocre Torront├ęs in my time, this was certainly not one of them.

With our starters (a platter containing Aubergine Tart, Beef Cigars, Calamari and Spicy Chicken Wings) we tried a wine from each of the vineyards.

Firstly the 2012 Oldenburg Rhodium (£37 for the 2010 at SA Wines Online), a blend with 53% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 7% Malbec. The very fact that they were blending demonstrates the Bordeaux influence, but also has the benefit of allowing a Merlot-dominant wine to be sold without telling people that they're drinking Merlot (thanks, Miles... *Sideways reference*).

This was the stand out wine of the evening for me: aromas of luscious red fruit (strawberries and cherries), with a hint of spice but coupled with great balance and depth. This was a big wine, with real poise and grace; 8.5/10 

Alongside this we tried the 2013 Gauchezco Petit Verdot. A typical Bordeaux grape, but somewhat  more unusual to see it in its own right as opposed to being blended with other grape varieties. This was more subtle on the nose with a whiff of blackcurrants and a wisp of smoke and cloves.

On the mouth it was rather tannic and acidic -  I think in a couple of years time this will have settled down to be something rather majestic. 8.0/10.0

Our main course was a splendidly cooked ribeye steak - ideal given the proliferation of red wines at this tasting!

I started with the 2009 Gauchezco Oro Malbec (£25.95 from Charlie The Wine), this was all fruit on the nose with notes of damson and plums. On tasting it was very similar, lots of fruit up front, but it then lacked a bit of structure and complexity for me. A solid, if somewhat unspectacular, wine. 6.5/10.0

The second wine with our main was the 2010 Oldenburg Cabernet Sauvignon (£21.50 from Berry Brothers). This was a big and bold wine with fruity notes of black cherries and blackcurrant, with a touch of menthol to it. On the palate it had high levels of acidity leading to fruity flavours of redcurrants and red cherries, with some interesting savoury secondary notes of red pepper. 7.0/10.0

Instead of dessert we moved onto a rather delightful cheeseboard with Comte, mature cheddar and a blue.

I started on the 2011 Gauchezco Cabernet Franc/Malbec blend (£17.99 from Charlie The Wine). Argentina has had huge success with taking an unloved French grape in Malbec and elevating it to international acclaim - and those in the know think that they could have even more success with Cabernet Franc.

This was a thoroughly pleasant wine with fresh, juicy blackcurrant aromas and a slight whiff of vanilla. I liked this wine a great deal, but I would dearly love to see Gauchezco do an 100% Cab. Franc - I think it would be wonderful. 7.5/10.0

Given the above you can imagine how pleased I was when I saw the 2011 Oldenburg Cabernet Franc (£21.50, Berry Bros) up next. This was slightly vegetal on the nose with red peppers as well as black pepper and tobacco notes.

On the mouth it was elegance and finesse personified with red fruits (cranberry and red currants). A great wine to end a great evening. 8.5/10.0

This really was a wonderful experience and I would like to thank the people at Connoisseur Estates for putting on such a delightful evening. I would also like to thank Philip and Mauricio for taking time out of their busy schedules to present these wines and to answer all of our questions - they were both fantastic ambassadors for their wineries and their countries.

You can also find your nearest stockist of the wines listed above on the Connoisseur Estates website.      

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event as a guest of Connoisseur Estates and did not pay for the wines or the food. The opinions contained within this article are a true reflection of my experiences.

*Any links marked with an asterisk are what we call 'affiliate links'. They don't bite. It just means that - if you buy from them - we might earn a very small commission to help keep Vinspire HQ in biscuits. We NEVER link to any website or product we wouldn't 100% genuinely recommend - and that will always be the case.

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