In October Teddington Wine Society enjoyed a tasting of wines from Sancerre and Chablis. As in our August Richmond tasting, the wines showed brilliantly the quality and complexity that the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay varieties achieve in their ‘spiritual homelands’.
At Richmond we tasted wines from Eastern Europe, a topic we had explored at Teddington last year. As always the Britannia came up trumps, with a beetroot salad followed by beef goulash.
Tim reminded us that when he first started selling wine in 1989, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary were providers of very acceptable drinking wine – usually packed in very thin cardboard that disintegrated somewhat easily. Since then significant money has been invested into a number of countries, and while production volumes are lower, quality is significantly higher.
Our Sauvignon Blancs, on Sunday from Poland and on Monday from Bulgaria, presented classic fresh citrussy characters, with plenty of riper stone fruit flavours, good simple wines that just about hit price points to compete with interesting Kiwi or South African Sauvignons. Malvasia from Croatia, Rebula from Slovenia and Furmint from Hungary gave us a chance to explore rarer white varieties that have been grown in these countries for centuries and in the hands of some very good wine makers gave us a gamut of complex flavours and delicious textures – albeit for double the price of the Sauvignons.
A Cabernet Sauvignon from the Ukraine kicked off our reds – vintage 2020, with dense dark fruit, a lot of people saying cherry, and some more evolved savoury, leathery notes.
The Saperavi from Georgia, which had had the most complex winemaking involving stainless steel, wooden vats of different oak provenance and size, and the inevitable ‘qveri’, was widely felt to be “jolly good” – ripe berries and cherries, spice and chocolate. An Armenian ‘Areni Noir’ made by the famous Italian Antinori family had had similarly complex winemaking involving concrete and clay amphorae, and it was a massive wine with great fruit and acidity, that needed a lot more time to evolve and calm down a bit!
We finished with a classic, late harvest Tokajii, strangely named MAD (the village it comes from), that was glorious, and we agreed that there is much to like and anticipate from Eastern Europe.
Details of the wines we tasted are on the Wines we have tasted page.