Oz Clarke shares his wine expertise at a special event at Electricity House
There’s few people who know as much about wine as Oz Clarke, and even less who can convey that knowledge in such an animated and enthralling manner.
The actor turned wine expert was special guest at a special event at Electricity House to launch the building’s luxurious penthouse apartments – the final phase of the Crest Nicholson development.
In the sumptuous surroundings of one of the show apartments guests were treated to a wine tasting session led by Oz, with the wine and canapés provided by Hotel du Vin.
First up was a Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2011 sparkling wine, from the vineyards of Kent.
British sparkling wines are now consistently beating French champagnes in blind taste tests and Oz explained why.
“The climate in these vineyards is about the same as it was in the Champagne region 20 years ago,” he said. This means that England now has the same growing conditions as the big champagne houses had in their hay day.
Oz joked: “We should be proud of our wine, even if we can’t be proud of our football team!”
Oz went on to explain how the characteristics of the next wine of the evening, a Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, were similarly affected by the climate and topography.
“We drink Sauvignon Blanc because of the crisp, crunchy qualities. We want it to be sharp and fresh, not soft, so it needs cool conditions but sunshine to ripen,” he said.
“Marlborough is the sunniest place in New Zealand, but it’s also the coldest and that’s what makes it so good for Sauvignon Blanc.
“The hotter the vineyard the lower the acid in the grapes, and it’s the acid which is the genius of Sauvignon Blanc.”
As the next glass – another white – was being poured Oz asked those who liked Chardonnay to put their hands up. Only a smattering were raised.
“Ten years ago if you’d asked that question loads of people would have said yes,” said Oz. “But now Chardonnay has a bad reputation.
“Ernest and Julio Gallo and a girl called Blossom Hill came along and thought that could make billions of pounds of profit by making it sweet and vanilla-y.”
“But actually Chardonnay is a fantastic grape that has just been badly produced for a while. But it also makes Chablis which doesn’t have the same reputation, and that’s what we have here – a Chablis Bernard Defaix 2014.”
The evening ended with a Geoff Merrill, Pimpala Road, South Australia 2012 – a Shiraz from Australia.
“It’s interesting to think ‘where did the first bottle of wine get made?’” said Oz. “Where was the place that someone first drank a bottle of wine on purpose? It could have been Syria. Maybe it was Armenia. But it could also have been a part of Persia called Iran, in an area called Shiraz.
“We know that the Phoenicians did a Shiraz and took the vines all over the world.
“But then a certain aphid came along that lives in the soil and destroyed the vineyards in France and Portugal and Spain. Before that though, some of the vines made it to South Australia. But the aphids did not.
“Everywhere else you have to graft the vines on to something else but the vines that made this are probably directly from the vines that arrived on the ship in 1842.
I like to think that from this wine, we are drinking here in Bristol in 2016 there’s an uninterrupted blood line that might just go back to the uplands of Persia to the fields of Persia, where the first glass of wine might just have been made.”