Roberts & Speight are the earliest wine shop (or even off-licence) I remember visiting. They are based within easy walking distance of where I grew up in Beverley, East Yorkshire. Although they've moved away from the first shop I remember as they've expanded the deli and food hamper side of the business, they're now much closer to Beverley town centre, and if last night was anything to go by, they're very much at the centre of Beverley's wine/foodie community too.
Because we only arrived after fulfilling our parental responsibilities we didn't get to try all the wines but I think we did manage to get through quite a few. If there is any criticism it's probably only one born of my wine-geek status. Due to the evening being (understandably) geared towards sales there were lots of wines that from more fashionable areas rather than the weird and wonderful that I look out for. I'd have loved to get to try some of the Alsatian and German wines that R&S stock but I'm not so naive as to believe that Riesling's about to overtake Kiwi Sauvignon as the darling of the nation's palate any time soon. Luckily I love New Zealand wines too! Having said all that there were some wines dotted about that were certainly very different, and from chatting to the various company representatives looking after the tables I sated my thirst for more wine knowledge as well as flavour experiences.
White wine highlights:
Viña Real Barrel Fermented Rioja Blanco, 2010. One of the best everyday drinking whites. The oak was noticeable but not overpowering. £9.99.*
Cuvée Guy de la Nine Ugni Blanc, 2009. From old vine UB and apparently only produced in the best vintages. If you ever wanted to disavow yourself of the impression that Ugni Blanc is only good for making wines to turn into brandy then this would be up there on the list. Lots of generous, soft stone-fruit flavour and good acidity. £18.99.
'Flor de Vetus' Verdejo, Rueda, 2011. One of a couple of Verdejos I tried, this one being a good, ripe example that did will to retain the acidity and keep its freshness. £10.99.
Greywacke, Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011. Head and shoulders above the other Kiwi Sauvignons really. Elegant rather than tropical - definitely a nod towards Cloudy Bay as was expected, although mercifully in a different price bracket. £14.99.
Ch. Bocasse, 'Les Jardins,' Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec, 2009. This was definitely one that appealed more to the wine geek in me, from a south-western France appelation I'm not familiar with, made from Petit Manseng and Courbu (amongst others). It's a real fresh fruit cocktail. There was also a late-harvested version, Les Charmes Celestes, which was obviously sweeter, without being cloying, keeping the lime freshness of the dry version but adding another layer of prefume. £11.99.
Dom. Jean-Paul Balland Sancerre Blanc 'Grand Cuvee' 2010. Luxurious, more full bodied example of SB. My wife's favourite of the whites we tried and I wouldn't be far behind her in the queue if more were to be handed out. The gooseberry is there, but subtly complementing the minerality rather than jumping up and assaulting the palate. A beautifully elegant wine. £18.99.
Mud House Marlborough, Pinot Gris, 2009. Another one that I thought was really good value for money at £7.99 as part of a case. Most definitely a nod towards Alsace rather than Italy, with generous fruit and a luxurious, almost oily, quality. £9.99.
Seifried Estate Nelson, Grüner Veltliner, 2012. I've read speculation about Grüner being NZ's next 'big thing' and if this is anything to go by then they might be right. Although I've tried Siefried Estate's wines before (we visited there back in 2005), this is a new one for me. It's got a fresh, sherberty nose and a really tangy acidity. £10.89.
Langlois-Chateau, VV Saumur, 2005. Great to see a Loire Chenin in the mix. Beautiful use of oak to complement and set up the honeyed flavours of the Chenin as it's developing. At over six years old its got plenty to offer; lively cool climate acidity keeping it fresh and youthful. £16.99.
I'll post some more about the reds tomorrow. It's a testament to the quality of the whites that we spent so much time on them that we ended up rushing the reds a bit, but there were certainly some great reds too!
* I've just quoted the price per bottle as listed in the programme from last night just to give you an idea of what price range the wines come in. These are retail prices from the merchant (Roberts & Speight) not the supplier. R&S's discount is at least 10% on a case of 12, and quite often more.