Nearly two weeks ago Hervé, our rédacteur en chef and the creator of one of France’s ecclesiastical masterpieces – the never to be forgotten magnificence of Abbaye de Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, asked me to comment on the news item from Harpers.co.uk that follows.
‘An idea for a good piece on what your compatriots really prefer, according to your experience?’ was Hervé’s suggestion.
Nero Oro Riserva 2016, Sicily
£14.99 a bottle or £9.99 for six
Sicilian red Nero d’Avola came out on top in a mass blind tasting at Majestic stores across the UK.
Eight different wine styles were tasted by some 25,000 wine drinkers in what is claimed to be the biggest blind tasting on record.
Red wines dominated the favourites. Nero d’Avola was the winner at fully 78% of the stores, with Cabernet Sauvignon a distant second at 16%. Third was Shiraz with 4% followed by Sauvignon Blanc with 2%.
Pinot Noir, the fourth red in the tasting, failed to pick up any votes at all.
Among white wines only, Sauvignon Blanc took first place in 68% of stores, followed by Pinot Grigio with 22%, Chardonnay 6% and Viognier 4%.
Cabernet Sauvignon was most popular in London and Bristol, while Cumbria and the Cotswolds plumped for Shiraz.
Sauvignon Blanc was the preferred choice of Dorset wine drinkers – together with those in London’s Muswell’s Hill.
Viognier was the white wine of choice in Manchester and the Midlands, while Scotland’s highland/lowland divide was apparent in the latter’s choice of Pinot Grigio over the former’s Sauvignon Blanc.
Robert Cooke, trading director at Majestic, said: “If you had asked me to pick… which would come out top with over 25,000 taste-voters – I don’t think I’d have ever gone for Nero d’Avola.
“Our tongues can’t be guided by price, prestige or labels. That’s the joy of a truly blind tasting.”
The tasting involved around 220,000 tasting samples at 195 Majestic stores. It took place over five days in September.
The eight wines involved were Ammazza Pinot Grigio DOC and Nero Oro Nero d’Avola from Italy; New Zealand’s Mud House Sauvignon Blanc; an Abbotts & Delaunay Viognier from France; Argentina’s Alamos Uco Valley Chardonnay; Argentina; a Hang Loose Cabernet Sauvignon from California; Australia’s Making Tracks Shiraz; and the Incanta Pinot Noir from Romania. Each was chosen for its typicity and comparable price point.’
I have to say that, following the result of the UK election of 12th December 2019, I can make no claim to understand how a considerable proportion of my fellow country inhabitants tick.
The UK electorate has just handed a large majority (80 seats) to the UK’s Donald Trump: ‘Benito’ Johnson. The parallels are all too evident – a known pathological liar, a womaniser, who in Johnson’s case is either unwilling or unable to say how many children he has fathered, a narcissist who cares only for himself, entirely untrustworthy, corrupt, lazy and not on top of his brief….. etc.. Like Trump, Johnson is incredibly teflon coated. Almost any other politician would be dead and buried with his CV, which includes being widely considered as the worst and most useless Foreign Secretary for many years.
It has to be admitted, however, that the opposition engineered their own downfall. In the autumn, Johnson was desperate to call an election during his honeymoon period and to avoid his withdrawal bill, which had passed its second reading, getting proper parliamentary scrutiny. On several occasions parliament had voted decisively against an election just two years after the last one. Then, inexplicably, just one day after the latest rejection, when Johnson tried yet again, they caved in and voted for an election – turkeys voting enthusiastically for Christmas. Then, having been bullied into an election, they couldn’t agree a common front to stop Johnson and his right wing cronies. Tribalism ruled! The Conservatives offered ‘certainty’ – out of the EU at the end of January 2020 even if, in the harsh light of day, this proves not to be the case. Johnson avoided any serious scrutiny, ducking out of any testing one to one TV interviews, while Labour, despite having more than three years to come up with a plan failed to produce a coherent and believable Brexit policy. …..
The stupidity and incompetence of Jo Swinson (Liberal Democrats) and Jeremy Corbyn has rebounded on them – wrecking their political careers. Unfortunately the UK is all too likely to pay a very heavy price too – both economically and democratically…….
It may have always been the case but the last five years has shown the the UK to be endemically corrupt. All too appropriate that one of our princes thinks it is a good idea to stay in New York with a convicted paedophile. Furthermore this prince is credibly accused of having sex with a trafficked 17-year old girl, pressured into entertaining this loathsome and pampered individual…….
I could go on but it is all too depressing – instead a treat today: lunch at the wonderful St John restaurant in London’s Smithfield.
To return to the Majestic blind tasting, I am not really surprised that the Nero d’Avola did well as it is now common to find reds from Sicily on UK restaurant wine lists as well as reds from Southern Italy, like Negromaro and Primitivo. It should also be noted that this blind tasting, while it involved a lot of people and the results are interesting, only indicates which are the preferred wines from these eight that are stocked by Majestic. No guarantee that these results would be replicated elsewhere, although it is very likely that soft, fruity reds will do well, as I suspect they would in others countries – France and Belgium for instance.
A shirt isn’t just for Christmas…