Last week I was invited along to the first UK Wine Hour event in Manchester. It took place in the beautiful (beautiful is a wild understatement here) and ancient surroundings of the Baronial Hall at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. It was a small but perfectly formed event in a stunning venue, with lots of new and interesting wines to try.
UK Wine Hour is a “Twitter Hour” where interested people chat along on Twitter, swapping wine tips, asking questions and generally celebrating wine. UK Wine Hour runs 7-8pm on Thursdays with the hashtag #UKWineHour. This was the first UK Wine Hour Live event in Manchester, there have been others in London, but Northern wine lovers got their turn last week.
The Baronial Hall was packed with wine merchants, large and small, offering their wares for tasting. Some had just two or three wines to try, some had a fairly large number of bottles to choose from. Personally, I found myself drawn to the merchants with just a few well chosen bottles.
I had decided to start with fizz, then white, red and then fortified wines. I was pleased to see English fizz represented by the Exton Park Vineyard in Hampshire, but my favourite on the day was a Viña Pomal Rioja Cava which I don’t think is quite yet readily available in the UK, but worth pestering your local wine shop about.
We were spoilt for white wine on the night, I think most of the room were quite taken by the Hungarian wines from Disznókö – one of the largest estates in the Tokaji region of Hungary, located in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. The Dry Furmint 2016 (£14.99 from Oxford Wines) was a real find.
I loved all three of the wines offered by Didsbury-based Reserve wines. This delicious Oliver Zeter Nussriegel Riesling Trocken 2016 (above) at £15.99 was a real favourite and one I will be seeking out next time I’m on Burton Road.
In terms of good reds, I was drawn to the wonderfully named Gnarly Head from California Wines which was described as having “rich, dark berry flavours with layers of plum, pepper, cola and chocolate”. It certainly packed an enjoyable punch!
I’m not normally a sherry or port drinker, but I was persuaded to try two ports, including a rather good 10 Year Old Tawny, £22.99, available from Waitrose. I also tried an astonishingly rich wine – Marques De La Vega Pedro Ximenez which tasted like Christmas pudding in a glass. I believe it will sell for around £15 a bottle once it reaches the UK. It is utterly delicious, a very good bargain and it’s on my Christmas list already.
I’m no expert, but I enjoy tasting and learning about wine. I didn’t feel even slightly intimidated by the event, it was so friendly. It was just the right size, with approximately 60 different wines in the room, so plenty to try but not too many that you’re overwhelmed. I think I tried around 20 different wines and discovered some real gems. UK Wine Hour Live events don’t happen on a very regular basis, but at £15 a ticket, a selection of some really great wines and a really friendly atmosphere I know I’ll be going to the next one.