In November last year, the streets of Winchester were taken over by wine lovers from all over the country as the effervescent duo of Susie Barrie and Peter Richards put together a fine collection of the best wines produced on this earth. And so Wine Festival Winchester was born. Due to this success, they, along with festival organisers Claire Quigly-Ward and Rosie Bowerman decided to throw another wine themed party with even more pizazz (and wine) than before. So when I was asked to work on this years event, I jumped at the chance! What could be better than sipping some of the best and most interesting wine around and talking to wine lovers about what they like to sip?
The concept behind how the festival works , takes the idea of taste to another level. Each wine featured fits into one of 6 colour coded categories and you are encouraged to wear stickers representing your favourite wine styles – As modeled by Peter Richards! And lovely colours they are too, designed by Farrow & Ball no less. Each bottle has one of the colours around their neck and in the accompanying booklet, these colours are dotted next to the wine names so you can easily guide yourself around the hundreds of bottles on offer on the many stands in the two beautiful rooms at Winchester’s Guildhall. With the aid of these colours, you are encouraged to choose you own adventure and ‘Follow Your Taste’.
My job was to make sure people understood how to follow their
taste and to make the most of the experience, a role which I relished alongside my partner in crime Cindy-Marie Harvey. Some of the gems I discovered along the way include deliciously elegant English fizz’s like Hampshire based Hattingly Valley and Cottonworth. As well as those from local producers, there were plenty of great wines fro al over the world. One of my favourite New World gems was the Pandolfi Price Los Patricios Chardonnay from Chile 2011 which tasted like a beautiful gently oaked white Burgundy. Just delicious!
It was great to see the new Majestic Wine Warehouse ‘Definition’ which aims to show great examples of some of the world’s most popular wines. Their Sancerre, French Chadonnay, red Côtes du Rhône and Rioja were particularly stunning. And I have to say thank you to Matt Dicks from Waitrose who frequently came to my aid if he saw that I didn’t have a glass in hand. Matt challenged me to a blind tasting with two wines, I’m very pleased to announce that I guessed both correctly. My prize? A sip of Maury with some 70% dark chocolate, available in all good branches of Waitrose of course!
One last wine I have to mention (which I urge you to get your hands on if you can) is De Bortoli’s Yarra Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2013 which is one of the most vibrant Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted in a long time. A wine that the gorgeous Rebecca Jayne Fisher had a hand in producing. So, I’m sure you’ve gathered, there’s something for everybody. I just wish I had time over the weekend to taste more wines (not to mention the cheese plates and pork pies on offer!) But there’s always next year – And I’m sure you’ve already gathered that I’m already looking forward to next year’s bash!
So clear the diary because between 25th – 27th November 2016, you too will want to be with Susie, Peter and the team taking part in the next instalment of Winechester!