A Very English Pinot Tasting

The clocks have changed. Those bright blue skies & bright days we have been enjoying have taken flight (south for the winter, probably), to be replaced by autumn as we know it (read: dark. Very dark. Grey. & rather damp to boot.) Hello November.

Leaves, leaves everywhere...

What better than to mark the entrance of this gateway to dark, wintery depths than to have a nice bit of wine geekery? Exactly. We thought the same. So after a wee Twitter storm, chewing the fat over English Pinot Noir, the only logical step was to mark the 1st of November as #EnglishPinotDay & have a Very English Pinot Tasting. & aren’t we glad we did.

Photos will follow (we were sadly relying on a Blackberry, which failed on this occasion. We have, however, been promised some nice snaps from those that attended with cleverer cameras than we. Phew.) In the meanwhile, it is my words that shall have to suffice (apologies). So, deep breaths all, hold on to your corkscrews – & away we go.

The original plan was to have everyone bring a bottle of English Pinot, so as to explore our contention that this is a grape that has a bright future within the land of Britannia Reds. Everyone attending would bring a bottle of the stuff & our assemblage of palates would dissect them, bottle by bottle.

As it turned out, we forgot how difficult it can be to find a solid cross-section in London. So we tweaked the night slightly, suggesting that cool climate ringers could be brought in place.

In the end, we had 8 English Pinot’s on the table (special thanks here to Three Choirs, Gusbourne & Sharpham Estate for their contribution) against entrants from Central Otago (a hot little number indeed @tuckandvine), Transylvannia (cheers @elliotscafe), two from Sancerre (many thanks @jeremyonwine & @donalde) & a very intriguing Slovenian bottle (again, thanks @donalde), as well as a reasonably priced Burgundy, an Hungarian &, that new world behemoth, Chile.

Now, comp(lim/lem)enting the wines: the people! Although we had those that could not make it (shame), we did have a stonking array of palates in the room – see above – as well as 2011 UKVA judge MW Patricia Stefanowicz, Gusbourne’s vineyard manager & a representative from Plumpton. Jolly good stuff.

To have 8 very distinct English Pinot’s, not simply in direct comparison (spanning the country from Devon, to Kent, to Warwickshire) but also against both established & up & coming countries for the grape was a fascinating exercise, with results that surprised expectations: England’s pretensions to Pinot are well-founded.

Special thanks must go to those producers at Borough who provided a superb array of viands for us to compare & contrast against the wines on the table: the Turkish Deli for your olives (made for wine they are!); Sillfield Farm for the wild boar & herb pate; Elliot’s Cafe for the best bread in the land, quince jellies & superb presentation; Rabot Estate for the 66% Madagascan choccie; Borough Market for the loan of your beautiful boardroom; & Riedel, for  the glasses for such a night (there is still division about who preferred Chianti to the Pinot bowl) – I have not washed glasses with such care in a very long time!

All in all, it is something that will happen again – albeit not until the next year. The festive period is nigh & it is going to be a rather busy time for the Wine Pantry. But, wine friends, remember my words: it will happen again. The Wine Pantry tasting club is here to stay. I’m getting a Bacchus vibe as well…

Please don’t judge the piccies – I told you we had issues!