Chocolate and Wine Tasting in Didsbury

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Back again in Didsbury, with the Didsbury Wine Club team this time. They kept fairly quiet since Christmas but just to make a point and make sure whatever January diet you were on is truly out the window, they went for the classic chocolate and wine matching exercise. Sure to attract the sugar and alcohol, not-so-deprived locals, attendance and enthusiasm was high. So were expectations.

The little pearls of chocolate came from the great team at Cocoa Cabana and the wines from, you guessed it, Reserve Wines. Great example of local businesses working together to achieve something greater than the sum of their parts. The venue was the usual M20 although it is now known as Mtiki. The place has undergone a complete refit and they’re trying to bring the Hawaiian, palm trees and equatorial temperatures to Didsbury. Taking the boat a bit late considering how long we’ve had these in town but the fancy Didsbury crowd may like something new. I thought it was a bit too hot in there and there are only so many classic songs I will suffer being massacred in one evening.

Omar could not be among us but David took it upon himself to make sure we had a good time. Four chocolates and five wines to be enjoyed, and enjoyed them we did.

1. Waterstone Bridge Chardonnay 2011, Victoria, Australia

First up was a Burgundian style Chardonnay from Australia. Butter and vanilla on the nose, everyone picked up on the creaminess. Someone even mentioned yogurt so it goes to show that the club’s atmosphere is a relaxed one and everyone is entitled to their opinion, whatever it may be. This was paired with Madagascan white chocolate stuffed with creamy chocolate inside. The cream match worked and it helped bring up the fruity flavours like apple and pear and it also let the acidity shine and refresh the palate. The wine itself was no stunner but I have seen it online very well priced indeed around the £5-£6 mark so if you get it at that price it’s value for money.

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2. Boutinot, Cotes du Rhone “Les Cerisiers” Rosé 2011

Next up was a rose from the Rhone Valley in France made from 40% Grenache Noir, 40% Grenache Gris and 20% Cinsault. The result was a watered down strawberry vodka as bluntly mentioned by a lady in the crowd. Strawberry flavours were very apparent but on the palate was a harsh acidity and a boozy, alcohol taste that I was not so keen on. This wine was paired with a raspberry sparkled white chocolate stuffed with a raspberry cream which again was an absolute wonder of craftsmanship. On the matching side of things however, the feelings were divided. For some it worked superbly, for others less so. It didn’t really work for me because it seemed to strip all the fruity flavours out leaving you with a harsh acidity. Again this wine is available for 5 or 6 quid.

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3. The Opportunist, Shiraz 2011, Barossa, Australia.

First red of the night, an Aussie Shiraz, classic. Quite well chosen as it already displayed chocolatey notes to start with along with black fruits and vanilla and toast from the oak. Well polished, smooth and full bodied giving it a creamy rather than juicy mouthfeel, black and red cherry flavours with a deep, white pepper finish. Quite decent, we paired that with a full on creamy black chocolate this time and whilst it cancelled the fruit, it brought out the chocolate flavours of the wine with an undercoat of raspberry fruit. Not everyone liked it but I think it worked pretty well. We came here for chocolate and that’s what we got 😉

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4. Cuatro Pasos, Mencia 2010, D.O. Bierzo

The second red came from the very north-west of Spain in Galicia. Mencia is a fairly unusual grape, at least on supermarket shelves and I remember tasting this wine last year for a Spanish themed tasting I organised at Home Sweet Home. It went down a treat with everyone at the time and so it did yesterday. Deep black fruits, soft tannins and again chocolate and vanilla from the oak. Maybe lacked a bit of acidity, a sign that it may be past its best. This was paired with a chocolate truffle. Yummy.

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5. Barbazul 2010

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was the last wine featured since, as you know, I have reviewed it here recently and I really liked it. This was for pure enjoyment to finish the evening on a high note so I’ll let you revisit my previous post for the tasting notes…and a little bit more 😉

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We all had a very good evening, the wines pleased everyone and we all learned a thing or two about food matches and chocolate. I would also say that Omar would have been pleased to see some people’s wine perceptions being successfully challenged. It’s always a positive outcome.

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