Today marked the first of two days of B Festival '09 at the Primrose Hill office of trade and private client wine merchants, Bibendum. Sadly, this wine tasting event is only open to trade and press. But the good news is that there are some excellent wines and spirits at decent prices on showcase. Here are the highlights from today's lushy lunchtime visit:
Available at Majestic Wine outlets, Argento Cool Climate Pinto Grigio 2009 (£5.99) had a 'take notice' boldness that's sure to please white lovers on a budget, while the bracing and fruity Val do Saines Albarino 2007 (available at M&S for £9.99) was one of our faves. If this sunny start of autumn weather continues, this is definitely one to keep in mind. Otherwise, grab a bottle and hold out until spring.
Among the reds, Marmesa Syrah (£9.99, Oddbins) was as rich in colour and texture as it was flavour, and d'Arry's Original Grenache Shiraz 2005 (£8.99, CO-OP, Oddbins) seemed to press all the right buttons too. We'd happily sit down to a glass or two of either - accompanied by something meaty and roasted or simply on their own.
And now to the particularly lushy part, we were absolutely blown away by a couple of wonderful spirits sampled. The range of Cognac Audry proved to us that quality cognac doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg (maybe just an arm). For these “credit crunch times”, Bidendum recs Audry's XO (available for under £50 from Bibendum and a few other top spirit peddlers round town). With dark toffee hints and a mellow but nonetheless solid wallop, we wouldn't mind finding a bottle of this under the Londonist festive season tree. And the 15 year old Ron Los Valientes wowed the hell out of us! This 70% sugarcane, 30% molasses Mexican rum (we kid you not) took the Londonist palette on a flavoursome flight with a soft landing. Available for £22(ish) from the likes of Whisky Exchange (and behind the bar at swishy joints such as Nobu), it's one of the most interesting rums we've ever come across.
Find out more at www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/bfestival.
Photography by Chris Osburn