On Friday I drove up to Whalley, in Lancashire, to take part in a tasting hosted by the Whalley Wine Shop, titled ‘The Night of 100 Wines’. It was my first time in Whalley, which is a charming village (or small town?) in the Ribble Valley.
Whalley Wine Sop used to be a Thresher’s property, but the locals are extremely lucky that when it was closed down, one of the managers, 27 year old Tom Jones, decided take it over. It’s now a proper wine shop and the range and staff are really good. It’s a great achievement, especially considering that one of the country’s most well known wine shops is only 3 miles up the road in Clitheroe.
At the tasting there were 10 tables, one for each of 10 suppliers, each showing 10 wines. I went round tasting the wines and chatting to the lively crowd of punters, and was told to select one wine from each table. Then, at 9 pm, I was on stage for a quick bit of chat and to talk about my favourite wines.
It was like doing stand-up. The crowd were already warmed up, and I was even heckled. But it was in good humour. ‘Hello Whalley,’ I began. ‘It’s not ‘Wally’, they shouted back, correcting my pronunciation. ‘It’s Woor-lee’. But they are a forgiving bunch.
Here are some of the wines I chose.
Scala Dei Priorat 2011 Spain
Lovely fresh, expression of Priorat. Varietal Garnacha with fresh cherry fruit and lovely minerality. I really like this: ripe yet expressive. A great bargain. 92/100 (£14.95 Whalley Wine Shop)
La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanc 2010 Somontano, Spain
Such a lovely expressive white with fresh, zippy citrus and herb fruit. Mineral, nutty, spicy and precise. 91/100 (£11.45)
Two Rivers Black Cottage Pinot Rosé 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
Such a lovely Rosé, almost Provencale in style. Salmon pink in colour with lovely textured strawberry and herb fruit. Smooth and moreish. 90/100 (£9.95)
Two Rivers Awatere Selection Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Juicy, bright and focused with lovely pure raspberry and cherry fruit. Spicy, bright and sappy with richness and freshness. 92/10 (£19.95)
Jean-Luc Colombo Les Collines de Laure Syrah 2010 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodanniennes, Rhône, France
I know this wine well, having bought a case (which I am well on my way to finishing). It is declassified Cornas: fresh, peppery, with nice bright black cherry fruit. Typical, and very drinkable. 90/100 (£10.45)
J Lohr Wildflower Valdigue 2010 Monterey, California
A really unusual but delicious wine, with amazingly fresh, floral, perfumed cherry and berry fruit. Like a supercharged Beaujolais. Great fun. Apparently this was a cool vintage, and it showsinthe freshness of the wine. A warmer vintage might be a bit jammy. 90/100 (£11.45)
Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé 2010 Provence, France
A really super, stylish pink from Provence. Expensive but lovely, with broad, textured, supple cranberry, cherry and strawberry notes, but it’s more about the texture than the flavour. 90/100 (£15)
Rex Goliath 47 Pound Rooster Zinfnadel NV California
Rich, bold, sweet and alluring this is a sweetly fruited Zinfandel that’s a lot of fun. Pure, sweet fruit, but avoids being jammy. 89/100 (£11.45)
Vistamar Carmenere 2011 Central Valley, Chile
A great value for money red with much more class than you’d expect for the price. Supple, sweet, ripe blackcurrant fruit with some nice chalky, spicy notes under the fruit. 87/100 (£5.45)
Paxton Jones Block Shiraz 2008 McLaren Vale, Australia
Rich, dense, spicy nose leads to a bold, grippy palate showing dense, concentrated fruit. Lovely intensity and definition. 92/100 (£25)
Matthieu Barret Carignache 2010 Cotes du Rhone, France
A lovely spicy blend of Grenache and Carignan wth lovely purity and grippy berry fruits. From a biodynamic producer based in Cornas. 91/100 (£14.95)
Turkey Flat Sparkling Shiraz NV Barossa, Australia
This is the best sparkling Shiraz I have tasted with lovely fresh cherry and plum fruit. Really stylish. 92/100 (£31.95)
Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2007 Franschhoek, South Africa
Beautifully textured with complex lemony fruit and subtle notes of nuts and white peach. Rich yet fresh. 93/100 (£19.95)