Chiswick House Tasting

by Charles Lea

On a crisp November evening, we were lucky enough to be invited to present a wine tasting in the Burlington Pavillon at Chiswick House. LEA & SANDEMAN are, still, relatively new to Chiswick and, so, it was quite an honour to be asked to show our wares in the historic heart of the town. Nearly a hundred tasters enjoyed nineteen wines from the LEA & SANDEMAN range, roughly themed around drinking for Christmas Day. As if that wasn’t enough temptation, Sam Galsworthy was on hand to show off London Dry Gin, Barley Vodka and the limited edition Sloe Gin from Hammersmith’s micro-distillery Sipsmith’s, and Chris from Speciality Brands brought along some Venezuelan Rum, a brace of Islay Whiskies and, the awesome original red vermouth, Antica Formula. And, to compliment the tasting, Payne & Gunter were on hand with some tasty cheese platters. 

The tasting began with a pair of cheaper “party” wines – the Dardé brothers superb Domaine les Yeuses 2009 Vermentino and the cheeky little Lou Planal 2009 Domaine de la Bouysse, the Vermentino particularly impressing with its elderflower freshness.  Our ever popular house Champagne Benedick kicked off an interesting aperitif section which included Bert Salomon’s crisp and inviting Hochterrassen 2009 Grüner Veltliner and Eric Chevalier’s wonderfully aromatic Fié Gris 2009.

A selection of wines for the table ranged from more traditional white Burgundies like the unoaked dry but richly fruited Macon Vinzelles 2009 and more structured Saint Véran “En Creches” 2008 Daniel Barraud to Ron Brown’s beautiful take on Aussie Chardonnay, the deftly oaked Breechen’s Blend 2008, although the Acústic Blanc 2009 was probably the star white wine of the evening.

Of course, the red wines had to kick off with our ever popular LEA & SANDEMAN Bordeaux 2007, a medium-bodied Merlot-dominated “Right Bank” claret with delightful crisp fruit and a nice cedary finish.  We breezed through a full and satisfying Lalande-de-Pomerol – Ch Perron 2007 – were dazzled by the pretty and refreshing Mercurey 1er cru Les Naugues 2009 Paul Jacqueson (who said good Burgundy needs to be expensive?!) and were wowwed by a nice pair of Italians – Patrick’s fascinating new discovery from north-east Piedmont, La Maggiorina 2009 Le Piane and the bold and striking Bolgheri Rosso 2008 from the brilliant Macchiole estate in Bolgheri, Tuscany.  The reds were rounded off with a brilliant value Kiwi Pinot Noir from Gladstone Estate in Wairarapa in the North Island.

A couple of after dinner treats rounded off the wines – the juicy red Mas Amiel 2007 Maury (brilliant with dark chocolate) and Hans Nittnaus’s intense and bewildering TBA 2005 from Austria’s Burgenland.

Sam entertained the crowd with samples of his citrussy and intense London Dry Gin, the voluptuous Barley Vodka and his wonderful, juicy and not too sweet Limited Edition Sloe Gin.  And, before staggering out into the chilly night air, most tasters found time for a little Diplomatico Venezuelan Rum, Port Askaig Islay Whisky and the show stopping Antica Formula.

Our extreme thanks go to Lisa and the team at the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust for asking us in the first place and doing all the hard work – we just turned up with wine and enjoyed ourselves – and to Sipsmith Sam and Chris from Speciality Brands for embellishing our presence.

We enjoyed that!  Maybe we can do it again some time…