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York's National Centre for Early Music has very good acoustics. At least the sound of glasses clinking was music to my ears, when I visited a Laithwaites Wine tasting there a few weeks ago.
Come to think, as the NCEM is a converted church, I suppose wine will have been consumed there in the building’s former life.
Tickets sold so well for the night, the organisers tell me, that a second night had to be added. From this I can deduce that there must be a fair number of Laithwaites customers in York.
With this in mind, I’ve picked out three favourites from the tasting as my recommendations for the week. This is not to say that I wouldn’t be happy to drink the dry, mineral, Abbesse de Loire Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (£7.99). A perfect seafood partner, suggestive of goosegog, lime, white flowers and a hint of honey.
I rated Stonewall Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (£11.49) from the Marlborough region of New Zealand too. I thought it delivered well for the money, with a velvety smooth mouth-feel, spicy cherry fruit flavours and smoky bacon oak notes.
My top three tipples were a smooth, rich Rioja, Pagos de Tahola Reserva de Familia 2004, which would work a treat with roast lamb. Made from tempranillo, the Rioja grape, it spends more than two years maturing in French oak barrels. This adds a spicy, vanilla and coconut complexity to the bright raspberry and strawberry flavours therein.
With summer barbecues in mind, I’ve chosen a bold, full-bodied red from the McLaren Vale in Oz. Red Heads Studio “The Back Shed” Shiraz Grenache 2008 is made for Laithwaites. Its dark berry and cherry flavours are here complemented by pronounced peppery notes, smoky oak and black treacle.
I love a good pudding wine and was looking forward to tasting Seifried “Sweet Agnes” Riesling 2009, I wasn’t disappointed! This bittersweet Kiwi sticky from the Nelson region is concentrated stuff with lemon sherbet, orange marmalade and honeycomb, a zippy acidity and a hint of kerosene.
For more details about Laithwaites, phone 0845 194 7711 or visit laithwaites.co.uk
• Pagos de Tahola Reserva de Familia 2004, Rioja, £13.99 from Laithwaites Wine 17/20.
• Red Heads Studio “The Back Shed” Shiraz Grenache 2008, McLaren Vale, £11.49 from Laithwaites Wine 17/20.
• Seifried “Sweet Agnes” Riesling 2009, Nelson, (half-bottle), £14.99 from Laithwaites Wine 18/20.