I’ll admit to having been a little apprehensive when walking into my session to be Palate Profiled by Master of Wine Marina Gayan, accompanied by her business partner and chef Helen Nathan, as they geared up to observe my every sniff and swirl.
You see, my love of wine stretches back more than 30 years to my first ‘proper’ job at a restaurant in leafy South-Wes London. The seeds of my vinous enthusiasm had been sown during quite a few years already thanks to Augustus Barnett, a large chain of Off Licences for whom I’d worked since the age of 14 during every single school holiday. Apart from having to fib about my age for 2 years and 6 working stints across many of their outlets (it’s illegal to work in an Off Licence under the age of 16) it was a fantastic early education – in wine, the cleansing properties of gin and life in general. I earned good money and even better tips. As a casual worker, no one bothered with background checks in those days…
That first restaurant job: I’d been recruited as restaurant manager, although it quickly became apparent that my newly acquired degree in Law was deemed rather more useful by the proprietor who was due to appear in court to answer allegations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that he’d been illegally importing South American hooch (which he had).
Although an expert in distilled cactus juice, the proprietor-cum-smuggler knew very little about wine, and gave me carte blanche to build an interesting wine list. This was exciting, and my first chance to taste in-depth across abroad range of wines and styles.
In the early 1980s the large importers and suppliers to the restaurant trade were taking the proverbial piss, selling emperor’s old clothes in the form of tasteless Entre-Deux-Mers in transparent bottles, stringy clarets and thin, acidic Burgundies. Within a few weeks the old hack reps had been shown the door and I was off on a voyage of discovery, taking the restaurant’s clientele with me.
Fast forward three decades, and I was curious to understand whether I really did understand my own palate and my assumed preferences. I’d completed a detailed questionnaire a couple of weeks before the session that gave Marina a sense of my sensitivities towards certain parts of the aroma and taste spectrum, whilst giving her food for thought with the odd contradiction.
The session kicked off by smelling different teas, from fruity, floral, to aromatic and smoky. Having woken up the senses, and torn off a corner of the still-warm Challah prepared by Helen that morning, it was straight down to business.
The focus was on whites, although she’ll profile via reds or champagnes and sparkling wines too.
As you might imagine, the wines served represented a very broad church, at one end of the spectrum being herbaceous, showing delicate floral aromas and infusions of sweet oranges and zesty lemons.
Occupying the middle ground were aromas and flavours of lemonade, nectarine and peach.
At the more powerful end of the spectrum there was smoke, gorgeous oxidative notes balanced on a tightrope of acidity,powerful fruit; un-oaked wines with higher levels of alcohol and oaked wines with much lower than expected alcohol levels, to baffle and challenge taster preconceptions.
By the end, I’d tasted a range of wines in a single session, expertly arranged, that I’d not experienced for ages. My own palate preferences were pretty much confirmed (which was reassuring) but I learned something much more significant: the excitement of discovering new wines that I loved. The session awoke the ‘wine child’ in me, opened my eyes afresh, and definitely broadened my mind.
|1||2015 Felsner Moosburgerin Grüner Veltliner. Kremstal ||12.5% ||£12.49|
|2||2014 Grosset Alea Riesling. Clare Valley ||12.5% ||£24.99|
|3||2014 Pazo de Señorans Albariño. Rias Baixas ||14% ||£16.95|
|4||2014 Larry Cherubino, Laissez Faire Fiano. Frankland River ||13.5% ||£23.95|
|5||2014 Francois Chidaine Les Argiles. Vouvray ||12.5% ||£22.99|
|6||2009 Domaine François Villard, Le Grand Vallon. Condrieu ||13.7% ||£29.25|
|7||2010 Neudorf Vineyards Chardonnay. Nelson ||14% ||£29.95|
|8||2000 Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva. Rioja ||12.5% ||£32.99 |
|9||2007 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon. Hunter Valley ||11.5% ||£33.99|
On the back of this experience, we’ve teamed up with Gayan and Nathan to offer a special deal.
They will arrange a profiling session for two people at £695 (usually the cost per person). The special Wine Owners price includes:
• Initial conversation and questionnaire
• Eight wines (around £20.00 RSP per bottle)
• Blind tasting session with Marina Gayan MW (lasting approximately around 1.5 hours)
• Substantial canapés prepared by Helen Nathan to match the wines
• Follow up findings document
To allow as many of our members as possible to experience a sneak preview, we’re giving away complementary taster Guyan & Nathan online profiles (via questionnaire) with some feedback included about your taste palate. To quality, you simply need to sign up to one of the Wine Owners premium subscriptions - Wine Lover or Collector – and you’ll receive the initial profile exercise free of charge.
Posted in: Fine wine appreciation,
Tags: fine wine, Gayan and Nathan, Marina Gayan, palate profiling, wine, wine advisor, wine lover,