Wed 04 Sep 2013

The Wines That Inspired Me


I recently attended a tasting entitled ‘The wine that inspired me’ put on by Wines of Australia. The line-up consisted of some 100 wines nominated by members of the wine trade.

steingarten glassThe more I tasted, the more the brilliance of the concept hit home: the breadth of the range was vast, from sparkling to fortified with everything in between. The classic grapes were all there, seasoned with a smattering of Mediterranean varieties, with everyday wines rubbing shoulders with great estates. Rieslings, for instance, ran from taut and dry, to fruit-salad-sweet, chardonnays from fresh and unoaked to full and buttery.

What staggered me is that there really wasn’t a duff wine among them: whilst a particular wine style may not be to your personal taste, but you could sense its charm or what about it had intrigued the nominee.

If you have a tasting group, asking everyone to bring a wine that they’re passionate about is bound to uncover a few new treasures.

What really interested me were the reasons behind the nominations: for some it spoke of a moment in time that the wine evoked, for others it was a wine that reinvigorated a jaded palate, or it may simply be a wine that they have learnt to rely on.

It made me think about my relationship with wine: being in the wine trade friends often ask me for advice and I have found several bottles that I can suggest, knowing that they won’t let me down.

Reliable extravagances for the difficult-to-buy-for
Wines from Frog’s Leap, Ridge, Roda and Isole e Olena, Vega Sicilia’s Alion, and our Exhibition Hermitage and Rioja are all such examples. At less severe prices, Momo from Ribera is a favourite, as is The Society’s White Burgundy and, for port lovers, Australia’s ‘The Wise One’.

Friendly bankers
Then there are the wines we’ve served at weddings, wakes and christenings, which have mass appeal and go with almost anything: The Society’s Côtes de Gascogne, Barberani Orvieto, Domaine L’Arjolle Cabernet-Merlot and Cortello are all such wines.

Happy rediscoveries
The wines I sometimes forget about periodically and joyfully rediscover after a break of a year or two; with every trip to our showroom these days, for instance, a bottle of Laborie seems to find its way into by basket, after a period of absent-minded abstinence.

Peaks of perfection
Lastly, there are those incredibly special wines that stop the clock for moments you’re unlikely to be lucky enough to experience again, and, even if you did, the wine’s evolution dictates that it will never be quite the same: for me, Dujac’s 1990 Clos de la Roche is a wine whose memory has stayed with me for many years.

I’d be very interested to hear what yours are too.

Louisa Peskett
Senior Merchandiser & Food Buyer

Categories : Miscellaneous


  1. Marion Hunter says:

    I really love your new style email. it is so informative and interesting and makes the Wine Society easier to access

  2. Gus Naismith says:

    Louisa, I do like you mentioning full & buttery chardonnay.
    On a recent visit to Western Australia and on a wine trip around Margaret River I asked our guide what was his favourite wine, surprisingly, or perhaps not, a full and buttery chardonnay! How many full & buttery chardonnays does the Society sell?
    Can you list them please.

    Thank you.

    Gus Naismith

  3. Sorry to be a pedant, but in describing the Rieslings surely they should be ‘taut and . . ‘, not necessarily ‘taught and . . ‘. However, I would be happy to attend the lesson.

  4. Louisa Peskett says:

    Hi Gus,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve canvassed the buyers who are in the office today and have come up with a small selection of chardonnays from our list and website which we feel warrant the description full and buttery.

    NZ6101 Wither Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 £7.95
    US5281 Esser Vineyards Chardonnay 2011 £9.95
    BU51881 Vire Clesse Domaine Guillemot Michel 2010 £13.95
    BU51421 Vire Clesse Quintaine Joseph Burrier 2011 £14.95
    NZ6691 Mahi Twin Valleys Chardonnay 2011 £15.50
    BU51401 Pouilly Fuisse Vignes Blanches Chateau de Beauregard 2011 £21.00
    AU15681 Leeuwin Prelude Chardonnay 2010 £24.00
    IT17131 Isole e Olena Chardonnay Collezione de Marchi 2011 £27.00

    I hope that’s gives you some inspiration, if any more spring to mind I will let you know or feel free to contact our member services team at any time who will be happy to help you.



  5. Laurence Measey says:

    The first wine that showed me that there was a lot more to claret than Bordeaux superior was a bottle of 1973 Chateau La Lagune drunk in 1978 in Cornwall. It changed my outlook on wine and I subsequently started buying good claret and taking part in ‘en primeur’ offers. Now 40 years on I found found many other delights from Europe and the rest of the world due, in no small part, to the Wine Society’s enthusiastic buyers.
    La Lagune remains a favourite and I shall hopefully drink the admired 2010 when it is at peak.

  6. Gus Naismith says:


    Thank you, Christmas is looking good.

    We will enjoy.


    Gus Naismith

  7. Tim Stockil says:

    Wines that have inspired me?

    Too many to list them all, but here are a few:

    Ch Leoville Barton 1990 after which my son Leo is named and which is still tasting fresh and delicious 23 years on.

    Ch Musar of any vintage – it just seems so extraordinary that the Hochar family continue to produce such an exceptional and idiosyncratic wine while regularly having to dodge bullets and shelter from bombs. That is truly inspirational.

    And a bottle of port, Fonseca 1934, which my father, who was not a port drinker, had stored, upright, in the swing door of his drinks cabinet in the dining room for years and years and had forgotten about. I discovered it by chance in 1984 and asked if we could open it when we had some friends coming to dinner who would appreciate it regardless of whether it was still drinkable or not. It must have lived through significant changes of temperature and daily shakings as the gin bottle was brought out of the cabinet, but when we uncorked it, it filled the room with perfume and tasted exquisite – almost dry, yet full of sweet fruit. I have never forgotten the taste – in fact, I can taste it now – and I thank my lucky stars that I had the opportunity to sample such a wine. And I learned never to treat my port so cavalierly in the future in case they are not all as robust as that 50-year-old Fonseca 34!

  8. Chris Clarke says:

    The memories of others seem to be of higher class wines described in flowing terms. My memory is more basic and I do not have the language for the more elaborate descriptions – but I do have the memory. It is why I still drink and enjoy Vinho Verde. Fifty years ago during the first six months of a 23 year career at sea I sat near the Indian Ocean in Portuguese East Africa, in the ports of Lourenco Marques and Beira as they were then, drinking Vinho Verde and eating Piri Piri Prawns. The impression remains with me still and another glass brings the memory back. Whether others would consider Vinho Verde a “peak of perfection” I do not know and I have discovered many other enjoyable wines from many parts of the world since but none of them have the memories attached.

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