38 Wines? 2 Hours? Why not!

20 Dec

I’m always a fan of trying to set new personal records. Some people run marathons or do the Iron Man competitions. Some people scale mountains or collect the largest number of Dalek figurines in the world. And while I am impressed with them all – okay, maybe not the Dalek collectors; sorry if you’re one – I tend to think it’s much more pleasurable to focus on personal records involving food and drink.

So, what has been my latest record?

Well, it’s got to be trying 38 wines in under two hours. The reason? Virgin Wines was having a press tasting and I was short on time. But, not one to skip on research opportunities, I decided I would work my way through their offerings, one small sip at a time, to bring you, the reader, my balanced opinion on a selection of wines the company is offering up just now for consumers.

Now, I’m sure there are skeptics out there saying, “But surely you wouldn’t have valued each wine individually if your taste buds had been influenced by such a quick onslaught of so many flavours.” To them, I say, you’re possibly a wee bit correct. But I did ensure to rinse out my mouth with lots of aqua and drink a fair amount of it as well, to ensure my brain was still working properly!

I agree with this slogan (possibly too wholeheartedly)

As such, here are my top picks (ie: those that received two ticks from me in my highly scientific rating system) from the Virgin Wines Winter Press Tasting:

  • Star & Vine Lodi Shiraz 2010: A full bodied, Californian wine that hinted at flavours of poached pears, cream and vanilla. I wrote “lovely” beside it in my book. It retails at £9.99 a bottle.
  • The Big Mo’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009: A rich, blackcurrent and dark chocolate offering from this Australian company bursts on the palate. Hints of olives and earthiness keep the sweeter flavours from the berries at bay. Lush. And well worth the cost of £12.99 a bottle.
  • Mas Oller Blau 2009: Tagged in the “Stars of Tomorrow” category at the tasting, this soft but fully flavoured Syrah, Garnacha and Cab Sauv Spanish blend really took my fancy. It was fresh and bold, and had a nice earthy minerality which packed a subtle but lovely punch. Retails at £10.99 a bottle.
  • The First Chapter Shiraz Viognier by Nico Vermeulen 2010: Vermeulen is one of the top wine makers in South Africa and this bottling is another fantastic achievement. The combination of Shiraz and Viognier really works (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t normally like Viognier). It was sweet but had rich mineral notes to contrast that; notes of mushroom and earthy flavours finish it nicely. Costs: £9.99 a bottle.
  • Oroura Station Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010: This was a Sauvignon Blanc with a difference: sweet but sharp; slightly smoky with hints of melon; it was really full without being too rich or sickly sweet, which I sometimes find with this grape. A lovely balanced, single vineyard Kiwi wine. Costs: £10.99.

The Big Mo' had a big effect on my taste buds

There were many others that I enjoyed as well, but these were the top of the top for me. And – it seems, now that I have looked each up on the site – that many consumers rate these ones highly as well (at least 4 out of 5 for them all), so my taste buds couldn’t have been that out of sync.

Andrew Baker, a wines buyer with the company, told me these ratings play highly into Virgin’s decisions about purchasing. “The site gets 1200 comments a week and everything is informed by that.”

So, if you end up trying any of these wines and loving (or hating) them, do make sure to add your thoughts to the site – it could effect the future of what Virgin Wines stocks (and what I might end up trying if they have another event).

And now, I have to find a next personal record to try and achieve. Given it’s Christmas, this shouldn’t be too hard…

Virgin Wines offers wines by the case on its site and free delivery on any orders. If you want to order wine in time for Christmas dinner, you can do so up until 2pm on Thursday, 22 December through the website.

One Response to “38 Wines? 2 Hours? Why not!”


  1. 2012? When did that happen? « gwiltypleasures - January 3, 2012

    […] about soup making with Nusa Kitchen and writing about some lovely wines I tried at a Virgin Wines event. Me, looking incredibly cool, making soup at Nusa […]

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