Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
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24 January 2017

Belfast wine tastings and courses: Wine Education Service NI dates 2017

Saturday 4 February 2017 10.45am to 4.30pm 'New World' wines one-day workshop £90
Including lunch from the hotel's bar menu, course manual and at least a dozen high-quality classic-style wines tasted and discussed, which will be sourced from across the southern hemisphere wine-producing nations and North America. STILL A FEW PLACES LEFT!

Thursday 2 March 2017 6.45-8.30pm Syrah / Shiraz wine tasting £30

Six to eight (depending on numbers) different wines from around the world - France, Australia, Chile, South Africa etc. - all made from the world's most popular red grape variety. So why do the French say Syrah, the Aussies say Shiraz and others say both? NEARLY SOLD OUT!

Classic Grape Varieties five week course £150 (£155 by PayPal) - Thursday evenings 6th April, 13th April, 20th April, 27th April and 4th May 2017 from 6.45-8.30pm.

Your chance to become an expert wine taster! At each session, we'll taste three white and three red wines; each trio of wines will be made from the same grape variety and sourced from leading wine producers worldwide. Varieties covered in each session: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Merlot, Viognier and Syrah/Shiraz, Pinot Gris/Grigio and Tempranillo. Comprehensive course material also provided. It's a classic!


Château de La Ligne owned by Belfast businessman Terry Cross
From www.chateaudelaligne.com

Saturday 13 May 2017 'International grape varieties' one-day workshop £90
Including lunch from the hotel's bar menu, course manual and at least a dozen high-quality classic varietals tasted, compared and talked about... We'll pick half-a-dozen or so pairs of wines made from the world's most popular grapes, each pair being the same variety but sourced from different wine regions: e.g. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc vs Sancerre from France, Australian Shiraz vs Syrah from Chile or South Africa... Approx. 10.45 to 16.45 with lunch break. POSTPONED TO THE END OF SEPTEMBER - SEE MORE RECENT POST ABOVE.

NEW! Saturday 10 June 2017 'Irish themed' wine tasting £32.50
This Saturday morning wine tasting (10.45 to 12.30 approx. including tea/coffee) will focus on six to eight wines (depending on numbers) with a link to Ireland, whether produced by a winemaker originally from Northern Ireland or an Irish-owned wine estate... More details to follow...

The venue for these events is the Ramada Encore Hotel in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. More info and online booking via the Wine Education Service site (payment by bank transfer or cheque):
Facebook.com/WineEducationServiceNI (sign in to Facebook to view).
Or you can pay by card or your own PayPal account by clicking on the button below (you don't need a PP account to do this though: just click on 'pay as guest'). You can change the quantity of tickets on the secure web form:





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Click here for more about PayPal payments and your privacy. WES terms & conditions apply, which will be emailed with your invoice or can be viewed on this blog HERE. Wine Education Service NI does not sell wine - our wine tastings and classes are designed to be purely educational and informal while focusing on getting more enjoyment out of tasting wine; we source high quality representative samples from a variety of different retailers.

03 January 2017

Colheita Port: Cálem, Kopke, Barros, Burmester

Douro Valley vineyards by RMJ
Sogevinus is a sizeable brand-owning Port company (they claim to be the number one seller in Portugal) with four famous labels in their portfolio (as tasting-noted below): Cálem, Kopke, Barros and Burmester. They also specialise in the Colheita style, a traditional Vintage Tawny Port (from a single named year and aged for many years in cask depending on house style and philosophy) made in limited quantities that you don't see around so much in export markets. These seven vintages, spanning all four brands and from the youngest 2003 (that's a white Port too) back to 1961, were showcased at an esoteric tasting at this year's London Wine Fair tutored by entertaining wine maverick Joe Wadsack and Sogevinus' Tania B. Oliveira (a while ago now admittedly, but a few months are irrelevant to these ports time-wise...).
Tania told us that these wines were bottled two weeks before the event: "They are usually bottled on demand so are still in cask... Look out for the bottling date on each bottle. Some other houses bottle when they think it's ready." Grape varieties include the usual blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and others; except the second white wine obviously - rarer still as a Colheita - made from 'traditional Douro varieties' (as much detail as I could find anywhere online), which are all sourced from the various Quintas owned by each company. See www.sogevinus.com for more info.

Cálem 2000 Colheita - Still relatively red/brown/orange in colour, toffee/coffee and dried raspberry notes with caramelised pecan nut edges, sweet and fiery palate initially although still tastes young, complex flavours with lingering sweetness vs more balanced 'cut'; powerful and concentrated, surprisingly fruity lively and well-balanced though, will keep and improve for some years yet. About £32 in the UK - Amathus Drinks.

Kopke 2003 white Colheita - A hot vintage. Volatile 'furniture polish' tones, still surprisingly ester-y actually; more obvious wood texture layered with roast hazelnut and walnut notes, tangy and punchy with attractive mix of subtle vs full-on flavours / sweetness; very nice and different 'white' Port, could age it for longer. £45 approx. - Hayward Bros.

Barros 1996 Colheita - Not much less colour than the 2000, a tad lighter/browner perhaps. A touch more 'volatile' and toffee-ish on the nose although still showing attractive red fruits and petals; relatively soft and mature with sweet pecan nut flavours, less punchy and drinking nicely now. £23-£28 The Drink Shop, Strictly Wine, Wine Man, Wine Therapy, Wine Poole.

Burmester 1989 Colheita - Quite brown/orange with 'Madeira' edges, oxidised caramel and nut notes with a fiery palate rounded by white chocolate and cocoa flavours, fairly sweet despite the alcohol cut; tasty now, gets more complex on the lingering finish. USA: Wineworth Importers (WA).

Barros 1974 Colheita - The year of the Revolution, not declared as a 'Vintage' Port year. This does not look 15 years older than the above! Slightly redder even. Spicy alcohol and walnut on the nose with sweet raisin and aromatic ginger cake flavours, sweet palate with a kick but layered with complex oxidised characters, still very alive; very nice Port. £97-£98 Wine from Portugal, Portugal Vineyards. €91 Portuguese Wines Shop.

Cálem 1961 Colheita - A touch browner and lighter but not much. 'Volatile' with baked nutty and coffee tones, woody even; punchy sweet and concentrated mouth-feel, turning tangier and more complex with sweet dried berries, textured palate too with almost old malt whisky edges; long and tasty finish, still surprisingly 'young' really. £168-£190 Amathus Drinks, Portugal Vineyards.

Kopke 1966 Colheita - Deeper browner colour. Mahogany and dark roast coffee on the nose with caramel, concentrated with nutty coffee flavours, punchy still rounded by nice tangy vs sweet berry fruit, powerful finish adding freshness to the rich backdrop. Wow. £117.50-£130 Hennings Wine, Davy's. US: Wineworth Importers (WA).