Spiffy spittoon photo by Chris Osburn
As appropriate a venue for wine tasting in London as any place could ever be, Vintner's Hall was the scene for Berry Bros & Rudd's inaugural Italy Anteprima Forum on the 17th of February. An opportunity to taste Italy's 2006 vintage and meet the producers, the event also featured a panel-led discussion about key issues facing the Italian wine market. Londonist mostly hung back and listened, gathering that there were almost as many opinions about the state of the Italian wine market as there were panellists.
However, there was one point upon which all seemed to agree: the near perfect climatic conditions of 2006 resulted in a very good year for Italian vineyards. Our subsequent tasting proved their accord. For Londoners shopping round for quality wines at any price, we recommend going beyond the Pinto Grigio (the Italian mainstay for many in the UK) and trying some 2006 vintage reds from Italy's Piedmont region.
Further north and a couple of years later, things were a bit tougher for Rhône Valley wine folk in 2008. However, judging from the samples we tasted at Berry's Rhône 2008 En Primeur tasting (another first time event for Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant) on the 1st of March at One Great George Street (not so shabby a tasting venue either), growers made the most of a rough season. If non-oak-y wines with black pepper bite sound like a satisfying glassful, keep an eye out for 2008 reds from this region. And for some palate pleasing intrigue, consider the 2008 Hermitage Blanc from Domaine Marc Sorrel. Still “lying abroad” and to be shipped later in 2010 (with an in bond case price of £360), this stringent and somewhat mustard-like white yielded the most interesting quaff from either event.