On the 8th November 2017 my wife and I were kindly invited to a M&S Sparks wine event in-store at our local Watford Branch.
Was it worth the 50 minutes walk into the town centre? it most certainly was! although we did get picked up by our daughter, just as well as we were carrying the six bottles we ended up buying.
The event started at 6.30pm and was held in the M&S café. We were the first to arrive and after being greeted by the manager and his staff for the evening we settled at our table for the tasting to begin.
Hosting the event was David Rough from Hertfordshire Wine School, who as well as being amiable and knowledgeable he had calm control over proceedings.
First up was a French Crement sparkling wine Le Caves De Hautes Cotes Cremant De Bourgogne Made in the traditional Champagne method, this was from the Burgundy region and unfortunately left our table a little underwhelmed. It had lively bubbles and initially had a reasonable flavour of stone fruits and a hint of something floral but the main problem was the finish, the taste just disappeared too quickly. 4/10
Second up was another French offering this time a Bergerac from South-West France, Mayne de Beauregard much more to my liking but again not chilled? A blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon, this was crisp and bright with bags of tropical fruit flavours, the Semillon adding a bit of weight and texture. 7/10
The last white ‘Le Alte’ was a bonus being a grape I’ve never tried ‘Friulano’ from northeastern Italy, this was definitely one of the favourites around our table, again tropical fruits with a creamy texture and a very long aftertaste, very different and very nice. 8/10
Now on to the reds starting in Australia from the Coonawarra region, this Cabernet Sauvignon split our table but I must say I really thought it was good. Imaginatively named ‘Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon’ this was a full-on fruit-forward wine with the classic wood shavings, also blackcurrants, dark cherries and cassis, with a hint of rich chocolate and menthol, I thought this was very elegant. 8/10
Now for the star of the evening a Appassimento Rosso from the Puglia region of Italy, the Rocca Pagliara I seem to be tasting a lot Appassimento at the moment, not that I’m complaining and this was as good as if not better than recent tastings. This was a powerful wine, intense and full of flavour, very raisiny, blackberries, plums, leather, tobacco were all there along with a herbal kick and pronounced tannins. Very good 8.5/10.
Lastly, we were treated to a Ruby style Port, which everyone seemed to enjoy rich with dark fruit and very Christmas cakey. I’m not a big port fan but it was nice enough. 7/10
This was our first M&S wine event and hopefully not our last as this was a wonderful evening with some pretty decent wines, thanks a lot to the staff who poured the drinks and brought out the food, they were all very charming, friendly and very generous.
At the end of the evening, most people stayed behind to take advantage of the 25% off 6 bottle deal as we did and we all went home happy if a little unsteady.