Wines of the Unexpected


Sometimes it feels like there’s not much choice on wine retailers’ shelves. An array of 50 Sauvignon Blancs is some sort of choice I suppose, but where are the surprises? Given that we have whole world of grape varieties and wines out there, where are the opportunities for new discoveries?

In this tasting we will hopefully unearth some surprising gems. We have wines from familiar regions, like Rioja and Puglia, but the examples we will taste are not what you’d expect from such classic areas. There are much less familiar regions too, with most of these wines made in limited quantities so they won’t be stocked by supermarkets and big retailers.

The Wines

Spain’s most famous region, Rioja, is famed for its red wines based on the Tempranillo variety. Our Rioja is a white wine, aged in American oak to add spice to its tropical fruit. Puglia in the heel of Italy is the land of Primitivo and blockbuster reds, but again we buck the trend with and aromatic white  made from the rare Minutolo variety. Once thought to be a particulary fragrant version of Fiano, and also known as ‘Fiano Aromatico’,  that relationship has recently been disproved. Finally, a return to Spain and the Basque country close to San Sebastian. The wines of Txakoli are gaining a cult following, but remain relatively scarce. Our example, made from the indigenous Hondarabbi Zuri, scored 92 points from Decanter magazine.

Jancis Robinson has written that our first red wine is reminiscent of Pinot Noir, but in fact it is made from Kadarka and comes from Hungary. It offers a fragrant and elegant profile. Next up, we acknowledge the ancient wine culture of Georgia. From Kakheti, the grape is Georgia’s most famous, Saperavi, and yet it fits our theme perfectly with few examples on UK shelves. Finally, a cracking way to finish: there’s a growing trend to rediscover Vermouth as a stand alone drink, as well as a cocktail base. But this is not the big brand Vermouth of a million Martinis; our Vermut is made from very old wines, aged in solera barrels, and flavoured with wormwood, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and orange peel. It’s sensational poured over ice with a strip of orange peel.

How does it work?

We have premium wines this month, the six bottle case priced £75. That is a genuine discount of £11 exclusively for our tasting, and available only to ticket holders.

The tasting is split over two consecutive Thursday evenings. We’ll open three bottles per night, but they’ll drink well through the weekend (the Vermut for much longer), so nothing will be wasted. And remember: if you cannot join us live for any session, our ‘catch-up’ service allows you to taste along to the recordings at your leisure.

  • Tasting tickets and wines are purchased separately
  • The ticket price is per household, not per person
  • The ticket covers both sessions
  • After you purchase your ticket, you’ll see a link to buy the wines
  • We’ll make a recording of each session in case you miss one
  • You may attend without buying the wines.
The Wines

  • Bodegas Ontanon, Vetiver Rioja Blanco
  • Polvanera, Minutolo
  • Bat Gara, Uno Txakolina
  • Sebestyen, Kadarka
  • Teliani Valley Winery, Saperavi
  • Luis XIV, Fondillon Vermut Rojo Dulce
We look forward to welcoming you to this online tasting.