I led a tasting and wine quiz in Sussex at the weekend in aid of the Children’s Respite Trust and Sussex Air Ambulance. Apart from being fun and raising a few quid for both charities it meant that I had to prep by setting quiz questions that would challenge the geeks in the audience but also be accessible and entertain those with a bit less knowledge. So there were ‘guess the price of a magnum of 1971 DRC’ type questions as well as Champagne quotes which most people know were care of Winston Churchill.
Local supplier Noble Wines provided a selection from the Lapostolle Altitudes range. Founded in 1994 by the Marnier-Lapostolle family who own Grand Marnier and Chateau de Sancerre. They are “French in essence, Chilean by birth” according to the blurb. They have some decent Green credentials with lighter bottles made from recycled glass and sustainable paper sources.
The four Altitudes wines tasted were all technically sound if nothing to write home about. All 100% varietals, the Chardonnay was easygoing with a slight petillance. Lacking complexity and, to my mind, inoffensive, it would be an easy food match. I was surprised how the crowd of 60 had such diverse responses to it. I was less surprised the Cabernet Sauvignon was equally divisive, with the ‘big red brigade’ satisfied by the tannins but those less into ‘puckering’ damming it mercilessly.
The Carmenere was more successful. A pleasing crimson colour, not really the deep purple they suggest on the bottle. Good fruit and spicy notes. I gave a bit of spiel about the history of the grape and the relationship to Merlot (having made the effort to prep some notes). What confused me was the tasting note on the bottle citing ‘white chocolate’ which none of us could detect (even when suggested!). I think this may be a clever(?) bit of marketing…
The best of the range was the Sauvignon blanc. It had surprising body and as one astute granny commented ‘there’s nothing thin about it’. Fresh rain on grass and some intriguing asparagus and nettle notes. Almost too complex to function as an easy aperitif it needs goats cheese and a hunk of bread. A very good alternative to overpriced NZ SB. They all retail at about £7.50 and come in at 13.5% alcohol.