Oak Aged Sauvignon Blind Wine Tasting at London Cru

1407 Bottle shot

A blind tasting of oaked Sauvignons from around the world on the 3rd July at London Cru, organised by Jean-Christophe Mau and Richard Bampfield MW was a welcome opportunity to revisit West London’s ‘flavour of the month’ venue, as well, of course, to taste an interesting and perhaps overlooked category. Richard’s invitation proposed that: “ as Sauvignon Blanc is so ubiquitous and producers will need to work harder to add value and create their points of difference in future, the use of oak will become more widespread”.

The tasting was very well attended; all the luminaries of the world of wine journalism were there (including me), so there must be something to Richard’s assertion. I think we have become submerged in the overpoweringly citrus and fruit-some (Marlborough, mainly, but not exclusively) unoaked version, to the exclusion of the more traditional, complex perhaps, version.

Overall, I found most very good; my lowest mark was 15/20. Looking back over the crib sheet, my high marks (18-19) were fairly evenly distributed between old and new world. In my notes I did record a less prominent fruit in many of the old world ones, and low marks to some French ones where the oak seemed a bit dried and resinous, and not supported by sufficient fruit, but I really liked the integration of oak in Didier Dagueneau’s Pur Sang 2008. It was surprisingly fresh, not showing its six years of age, other than in the oak (fermented and aged in new oak) integration. In my notes I see ‘Fumé style’ against this wine, which is encouraging for my tasting skills as the wines were blind. Happily, since this was their tasting, I gave a good blind rating to Ch. Brown 2012, which I found attractively toasty and spicy. I wasn’t as negative as I expected to be about heavily oaked new world styles, in fact as long as the fruit wasn’t dominated I found several with really well-integrated, classy oak, again in the ‘Fumé’ style; Jordan ‘The Outlier’ 2012 in Stellenbosch, Terre a Terre 2013 in Wrattonbully, and Chimney rock, Elevage Blanc 2010 in Napa stood out for me in this style. My highest mark (19, I don’t do 20) went to Valdivieso’s Wild Fermented Leyda 2012, aged for 11 months in 500L French oak, and good marks to most of the Bordeaux blends with Semillon (although there weren’t many).

I think Richard and Jean-Chiristophe are right that this is a rewarding category. Value is added in the complexity and broader, spicier flavours of the oaked versions, particularly when this is not to the detriment of the brightness of fruit, and that applies to both old and new world versions. I’m just rushing off to buy some oak-aged Chilean Sauvignon now!

Wine Tasting Experience in London

Nearly everyone enjoys a nice glass of wine, either over dinner, at the end of a long day or for a special occasion. Wine tasting is something completely different though, wine tasting is an experience and an event. It gives you the opportunity to learn about the flavours, the stories behind the different kinds and the wine making process.

We provide the best experiences for wine tasting London wide, and aim to give you an insight into the wide variety of wines available these days, and how to enjoy them. Many people have a favourite kind of wine, and buy only that type every time giving little or no thought into trying something new. This gives you the chance to try wines you otherwise would not have, and appreciate that you can enjoy different wines for different occasions and with different foods. We can teach you how to identify and appreciate the different flavours, so that instead of buying that same old wine every time, you can spend some time choosing a wine to enjoy on that particular occasion.

Wine tasting is something you can do as a couple, a group or as an event for a special occasion. It is a sociable and light hearted experience, no longer just associated with wine buffs. Our objective is to show you that no matter what your background is and what current preferences are with regards to wine, we can show you a whole new perspective when it comes to the drinking of and appreciation of a wide range of wines.