Waitrose BWS Spring Tasting
A Taste of Class
It’s with a great deal of enthusiasm that I head towards the Waitrose Cookery School on the Finchley Road, as one makes ones way out of London.
Not only are the wines that this thoroughbred of supermarketry stock interesting wines that are varied and chosen with great care, the company is starting to create initiatives that are making others look enviously in their direction.
I’m interested to hear more about their policy of promoting wines that lack a foil wrapper. This will surely save a lot of money, a lot of carbon in a part of the winemaking process that has always seemed, to me, to be an overblown piece of self-advertising (no doubt I’ll hear about somebody who collects the seals and think this move will kill off their hobby).
I’ve had a sneak peek at the various wines on show. and feel they are displaying a confidence with their choices. This visit will tell me if I speak sooth or speak rubbish.
The main strapline of this tasting appears to be the promotion of ‘Sustainable Solutions’, and surely this is a move we can all get behind. The number of producers I’ve met recently who have justifiably bemoaned climate change demonstrates that this is an area that can lead the winemakers of the world into a new phase of production, and at the moment I still believe we’ve only just entered the tunnel that will lead us towards this new options and opprtunities.
In the accompanying bumf I receive, various members of the Waitrose Family tell me what I’m to look out for and how this will help. Enough of the yakking, let’s get through the door and see if what they're offerings are still worth having.
It was so easy to find because it’s above a huge Waitrose, and then follow the sign for the ‘Cookery School’. In moments, one enters and then it’s up the steep stairs. I really need a stuntman for this part of the job!
Inside, the venue is prepared as a pour-it-yourself event. I like these when I want to get about quickly and not lose time in conversation (very unsociable I know and I must apologise). The amount of space is great because there is a lot of room to write down detailed remarks that are so helpful afterwards. I also like the provision of a clipboard. This means that I won’t have to cling to a table like a drunken sailor whilst juggling glass, pen, computer, notebook and bag.
I’d been at an earlier tasting, and didn’t want to go against form, so I stayed in the white and fizz zone, only veering towards the reds at the very end when there was time to spare.
It’s funny, but while a lot of the wines I tried were good, they just didn’t excite, and I found this disappointing because the wines of Waitrose are usually first rate and enjoyable. I do think their range of Champagne is worth noting because there is so much choice that anybody can dip their toe in.
Only the best for the Winefullness Reader
Les Charmes de Grand Corbin
Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2021
My nose is pleasantly entertaining cream, dark fruit, an earthy floor and a fine collection of spice.
In the mouth the dark fruit is joined by red, and there's a playful earthiness, cedar and coffee. Could there also be a little chocolate in the offering.
5 out of 7
Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru
Fourchaume 2020 - Burgundy
It's got my interest with odours of slight wood, stalk, a meadow with the wind gently blowing through, Cox's Pippin apples and cream
All this continues, and is aided by ripe green pear and yellow apple fruit. Enjoyable and worth searching for.
5 out of 7
Gosset Grande Reserve Brut NV Champagne
It's time to say hello to the fizz, and Gosset produces some very fine stuff indeed.
The Mousse is not going away too quickly, and this is such a persistent little blighter!
All the hallmarks of a splendid Champagne are in place. You want yeast, brioche, baguette crust? Then just take your time and they'll all be along soon.
The yeasty bread notes continue as you taste, and there's a lovely battle going on between green fruit and citrus in the background.
6 out of 7
Pol Roger Brut Vintage 2015
The was Winston Churchill's preferred brand of Champagne, and it's obvious that the old boy knew a thing or two when it came to the bubbles.
They jump to attention at first, but go too quickly for the Champerati!
This is so calm in attitude, and I'm enjoying spicy dark malt loaf like I used to love when I was young.
It's right in the Champagne taste profile, and is enjoyable. It's a little bit more lively than I was expecting until the bubbles say goodbye. There's a solid backbone of yeast for those who like it. I do!
6 out of 7
Nyetimber Rose NV
Nyetimber might be the name when it comes to choosing English sparkling wine, but there are other kids on the block who are eager to take the crown.
The bubbles just want to stick around and they're firm and clingy, which is how I like them.
Your sense of smell is pleasantly under attack from the pink favourites of baby strawberry, redcurrant and raspberry fruit.
As I tasted, the strawberry grew and felt like a treat at Wimbledon, especially with a hint of cream in the mouth. This wine has got such a rounded, welcome mouthfeel that it could take on the best, and often does.
6 out of 7
Bollinger Rose Brut NV
How could I not finish with Bollinger? I love what they do with bubbles and find the consistency constantly reliable.
Straight away those big bubbles are sticking around like an old friend.
The redcurrant and bold river of raspberry glide confidently around the inside of your mouth. They know they're part of a good thing. There a fine backbone of steely determination here. I might just have another sip if that's okay with you?
6.5 out of 7