Waitrose press tasting today. Nice to see Neal Martin there - haven't seen him for quite a while. Perfect tasting conditions at the Worx in Parson's Green, with plenty of space and lots of spittoons, as well as fantastic natural light. The tasting is so extensive I'll be going back tomorrow to finish it off.
For as long as I can remember, Waitrose used to be the top supermarket for wine. It was one of the things I quickly learned - they were almost untouchable. But despite having a gazillion Masters of Wine on their buying staff, in the last year or two the unthinkable has happened: people have been starting to criticize Waitrose's wine range, albeit in hushed tones. I began hearing whispers on the tasting circuit that some of their buying was a bit safe - a bit boring even. Tesco began to get plaudits for the work they were doing, and then M&S started to win awards for their range.
From my tasting today - I did the reds and sweet wines - I think this is a little unfair. There are some really good, exciting, innovative wines. Yes, there were a few duds and some rather ordinary offerings, but fewer than most supermarkets have. I found plenty to like, and it's not just the wines that were restricted to only a few stores that impressed.
It's hard to select just one wine to blog on tonight, but I've chosen a Loire classic, which, alas, is expensive and only available in 2 branches (although it is available on Waitrose Wine Direct). Still, it was nice of them to let us taste it.Domaine Huet 'Le Clos' Premiere Trie 1989 Vouvray, France
Deep yellow colour. Complex, sweet spicy-edged nose showing lemon, herbs and crystalline fruits. The palate is pure and fresh with lovely bright tangy apple and citrus fruit with some apricotty richness. Lovely purity and length. This wine has evolved much less than you might expect and still seems like a baby, with a long life ahead of it. 72 g/litre residual sugar, so it's sweet but not too sweet. 93/100 (£85 Waitrose)
They also showed the 2002 'Le Mont' Demi-Sec:Domaine Huet 'Le Mont' Demi-Sec 2002 Vouray, France
Lovely intense appeal and herb nose with just a hint of savoury Chenin funk. Concentrated linear herb and apple palate with some lemony freshness. Richly textured and off-dry. Delicious, and still very youthful. 91/100 (£22 Waitrose)
Labels: Chenin Blanc, France, Loire, Vouvray