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An Evening with Lia Poveda of Bouchard Finlayson

Wednesday 1st May, 2019

Presented by  Lia Poveda

The Oxford Wine Company Shop, 6 Turl Street, Oxford, OX1 3DQ

It had been a peaceful day along Turl Street on Wednesday 1st May; a day of customers who pondered over their wine buying options asking weighted, thoughtful questions and making decisions based on their romantic relationship with the contents of their choices, often searching for wines that tell a story.

A sudden crash and the shop door swung open releasing Theo, who almost crashed into a barrel of rosé, then a moment later Lia appeared.

I feel that there is a real buzz in the air at the moment for South African wines. Certainly in Oxford our followers are keen to explore this country and its diverse wine offerings. Perhaps this is because there are a great deal of supreme quality South African wines at very affordable price points, or perhaps the innovative character of many winemakers in areas such as Elgin, Darling and Hemel en Arde are reigniting our love of grape varieties such as Cinsault and Pinotage? Or perhaps it is from the growing community of winemakers pioneered by houses such as Bouchard Finlayson?

Bouchard Finlayson began in 1989, a joint project of two great friends with a passion for quality wine. Peter Finlayson purchased the vines and with the help of his mentor Paul Bouchard, of Bouchard Anie et Fils, they embarked on a journey to craft the finest wines of the Western Cape!

After a brief introduction Lia began the evening with us by encouraging all to raise a glass of the Blanc de Mer. A flinty, zesty wine that tickles the front of the tongue with those salty lemon characteristics I associate with Albariño. A sigh of surprise rumbled around the table when Lia revealed the mystery grape to be Riesling. A blend of 60% Riesling, 20% Viognier, 15% Chardonnay, 5% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Semillon. "I love this wine" exclaimed Lia "it's perfect with oysters and lobster".

An excellent start to the evening with lots of love around the table for the Blanc de Mer we moved onto the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. Bouchard Finlayson allow their Sauvignon Blanc 24 hours of skin contact and age for 8 months sur lie. A lovely mid ground between the full aromatic wines of New Zealand and a classic Sancerre.

An intense nose of smoke and tropical fruit awakened the senses with our next wine; 'Crocodile's Lair' Chardonnay. The vineyard sits alone 700 meters above sea level, beneath mountains, overlooking a large lake 45 minutes away from the winery. To avoid the fruit getting too warm during transportation back to the winery Bouchard Finlayson harvest and transfer at night. A rich wine with layers of complexity as a result of barrel fermentation and bâtonnage.

On to the reds! Pinot Noir appears to be the real love of the Bouchard Finlayson family. Peter Finlayson worked in Burgundy for over 10 years and carries that essential understanding of the habitat pinot noir requires. Two exceptional examples stood before us: the Estate Pinot Noir from 2014 and the 'Galpin Peak' Pinot Noir from 2015. Fruit from the same vines but two wines with completely different personalities! Galpin Peak has won multiple awards but, on this occasion, the 2014 Estate Pinot Noir stole the hearts of our tasters.

The evening was drawing to a close as we nosed our final glass; a smokey, herbaceous wine with red cherry, cooked pasty and almond characters. The wine, named 'Hannibal' after the Carthaginian general (not Hannibal Lecter!) is predominantly a blend of Italian grape varieties. The creation of this wine was a long labour of love as Peter was determined to achieve a unique wine to capture any wine enthusiast. All the juice is fermented and aged separately before intuitively blending before release.

Paris Barghchi