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I must admit that as I head in to London for a tasting and introduction to Slovak Wines, I’m intrigued because of my limited experience of these wines. I’m hoping that my visit to the tasting cellar of 67 Pall Mall will enlighten me (it’s such a temping location, because upstairs and out of reach lie wines that are so beautiful they would make you weep) and bring forth greater knowledge, which I will, of course, pass on to you should you require that knowledge.
I have tried the wines before, but the only time that really springs to mind is at a table during a Decanter Fine Wine event in the pre-Covid era when all wines seemed possible and I didn’t live in a place that was painted with drabness.
This should be a good tasting, and from a cursory look at the tasting brochure there aren’t too many wines to become bogged down in the problem of decision.
The 1pm finish means two things: The first is that there won’t be time to linger, and application to task must be adhered to, The second is the fact that I should get home at a reason time (often a blessing after a London hike).
I seem to remember being quite excited about these wines (perhaps not as much as the Slovak Embassy who are organising the event and eager to enthuse at every opportunity) and this tasting feels as though a world of exciting possibilities are waiting.
I am expecting reds, whites, a couple of sparklers, perhaps the perfunctory Rosé and a couple of interesting dessert wines, but my lack of real knowledge here means that my preferences won’t be saddled with prejudice (which often happens with wine areas that one knows).
Arriving shortly after the event started, it was a rather pleasant 'get together' with room to get at the wines and tables free to write reviews and thoughts, but as the event proceeded it became a little too crowded, and the waiting time for a taste stretched on and cut down the amount of time one could taste. Still, I did my best!
For you dear reader, I tried about thirty wines, and that would have been more if the pourers hadn’t have become embedded in long conversations with certain types (a type I obviously didn't fit). Perhaps they should have at least two people working each table. One to pour and one to answer questions. It would certainly mean that more wines could be tasted and larger opinions formed.
There were a few little stars on display, and I must say that investment in this countries wine industry is certainly starting to pay off.
I did find a few wines that were okay and one or two that just didn’t do it for me. There was one that I found really bad, but I’m not naming them. You know the old adage?
Of those I tasted, these were the ones that really stood out for me.
Hapsburg Winery - Sauvignon 2021
It comes across as almost New Zealand with its gooseberry profile. There was cream, almost resting on cordons.
The fruit was lovely and mixed the tropical with the green pear.
There is an interesting floral note to this wine that's mixing with stone fruits, but it's in the mouth that I really get to grips with this wine as exotic fruit and minerality are given their fullest expression.
5.5 out of 7
Shebo Hron 2020
The nose had a lovely opening of cherry and dark plums. There were stalks in the mix and a backbone of pencil supported by graphite.
It had a dense taste that was dominated by black plums, and I found it to be another interesting wine that makes me want to know more. Perhaps a trip might be needed because I can't work out how they are making wines like this at such great prices.
It's got more body than a room full of bodybuilders, and I'm finding it interestingly complex with cranberries and blackcurrants performing a tango in the mix.
6 out of 7
Bott-Frigyes - Kadarka - Amphora 2021
The nose was a waltz of red and dark fruit that pungently curled into my nose. An edge of candied fruit mixed with liquorice
The taste was subtle, rounded and rolled around with the smoothness of a TV gameshow host.
I'm told it's 'Bio', misheard and thought that it's bionic. That's a lot of pressure, but this wine lives up to it with strawberry notes, firm acidity, graphite, cocoa, vanilla and more nuts than occupy a parliament!
6 out of 7
Ostrozovic - Toakaj Selection 6
The nose was oozing with an intense viscous resin and bouquets of dried fruit, honey, hazelnuts, orange and marmalade.
It continued, and I was getting even more pronounced flavours of dried fruit, nuts, honey, orange marmalade that I found quite heady.
It was a bounty of sweetness that played games with raisins and dates and the taste just continued for so long that I still think I'm tasting it.
6.5 out of 7
Chateau Topol'čianky - Devin
It had the colour of honey, and this came rushing through on the nose. The orange leaned towards a jaffa cake, and a bed of almonds supported all this.
There was a viscous promise that continued in the honey with a nutty and orange flavour.
The aromas just leap out of the glass and beg for attention, and the fresh taste is based on a mixture of dried fruit, toffee and bold nuts.
6 out of 7