The Taste of Spain – in the comfort of your own home – We went to Spain last Friday evening. Well, not really, and we didn’t need our passports or face masks! It was all courtesy of Tom Doran of Doran Vineyards, as we attended one of his virtual wine tastings. But hang on a minute, don’t they produce South African wines? Yes, they do, but Tom, a trained chef, has developed, alongside his father Edwin, a loyal following for their tutored tastings of wines from across the globe, each one accompanied by a selection of delicious food from the region in question.
Just to give you an idea of the high regard for these tastings, one of the other ‘attendees’ was a wine buyer for a major supermarket chain. So how did it work? Well, Tom arranges to drop round with a selection of mini bottles (each carefully labelled) of the wines for the tasting, plus the special ISO tasting glasses, and some sheets of notes for the tasting. He also brings a fabulous selection of food that he has prepared to pair with the wines. In our case we had homemade ‘tear and share’ rolls (seeded, with Manchego cheese and black olives); a really good slice of tortilla each (the proper kind, made with eggs and potatoes), a charred artichoke heart salad with broad beans and diced chorizo and last, but by no means least, a delicious ‘Catalan style’ lamb stew.
So, all set up and ready to go, we joined the Zoom call link sent earlier and ‘met’ the others. Tom asked as each various questions about which parts of Spain we liked, and what wines we enjoy while there. It was clear that we all enjoyed different parts of Spain, which was great, as Tom was going to take us all on a vinous tour.
Tom has done his research and illustrates his talks with maps and tasting notes. I won’t go into great detail of each wine, suffice to say we had a good selection, including a lovely Albarino, and a couple of others produced from grapes that I have to admit I had never tried. It is worth saying that these tastings are for everyone, whatever their depth of wine knowledge and Tom is keen to introduce even the most unknowledgeable to the world of wine. One of the highlights for me was a fabulous new white wine made from the Palomino grape (as in Manzanilla) Las 30 del Cuardrado, Jerez 2017. Like many of the wines we tasted that evening, it was top-notch, and not cheap at around £20 a bottle. But we agreed that in the current situation, many people are spending a bit more on their wines, especially as they haven’t been able to enjoy them in restaurants, thus saving the mark-up. We moved to the reds and again Tom had selected a brilliant range of varietals for us.
Our personal favourite – by a long chalk – was a Petit Pittacum Bierzo, 2018 produced entirely from the Mencia grape. It was fabulous! Fresh and vibrant, but with plenty about it: intense colour, elegant nose, and red fruits. It was fluid and juicy in the mouth with great length and hidden woody notes.
We finished with a blind tasting of three other wines, all very different and the preferences among us differed too.
It was a great evening, and we can see how Tom has built up such a loyal following. With the food, it is a complete evening out and at £50 a head, provides a really fun, delicious and educational event.
Tom is currently only delivering in the SW/KT/TW postcodes, but by arrangement (and for a lesser price) people further afield can enjoy his tastings with delivery by courier. They will of course be without him providing the food and the glasses, but he is happy to advise on foods to pair with the wines, as long as there is space on the tasting and he has enough time to arrange delivery of the tasting samples.
Doran Vineyards can organise tastings for private parties and groups by arrangement, and they will make a great socially distanced excuse for a celebration! He can even provide souvenir tasting glasses for guests.