Photo of
May 18, 2015

The 5pm blog was kindly invited along to Wine Palate‘s ‘Spring Wine Festival’ held at the impressive Trade’s Hall in Glasgow. It was a fantastic opportunity to try a wide selection of wines and learn about them direct from the experts, with representatives from the vineyards on hand to take us through their wines.

The Wine Palate focusses on boutique and family owned wineries, and the Festival reflected this. We got the chance to sample (although of course, didn’t sample them all!) over 70 wines from premium, boutique and family-owned vineyards from Spain, New Zealand, South America, Romania, Australia, France and more.

Although in grandiose surroundings, the Festival was relaxed and informal and the wines were presented without snobbery or jargon, which fits with the aim of Wine Palate, to make ‘affordable, high quality wines accessible to all.’ We were astounded by the quality of the wines you could get for a fantastic price. There was a delicious Pinot Noir from the Carmel Recas wine estate in Transylvania for only £7.55.

Cow paddock to vineyardWine Palate

We spoke to Kirstin Boyce, Managing Director of the Wine Palate on the quality of the wines available at the event and through the Wine Palate:

“We know each vineyard behind the wine we sell, we do lots of research before we take a wine on and they’ve each got a personal story. Take the Leconfield ‘Syn’ Blanc Cuvee NV that we’ve got here today. This winemaker bought a cow paddock, in the eighties, turned it into a vineyard and that’s the result. So, that wine there is from one of the oldest wine families in Australia, the Hamilton family, dating back from the 1800s. You go round and each of them has a story, all of the wines have a story to tell. If you talk about barefoot wines or all the yellow tails, they are mass-produced.”

“When you have that bottle of wine on your table, its that whole story, that personal approach that’s led to it being in your glass, which is very attractive to the consumer.”

“All these wines are pretty much handcrafted. So they have made the wine the way it should be made using hand harvesting rather than machine harvesting. Machine harvesting is very stressful for the vines and for the vines to recover they need fertilisers. Hand harvesting selects the grapes, looks at the grapes, and if the grapes are good, they will stick them off and put them in the basket. The machine harvest takes everything off like insects, bits of wire – you name it. All the smaller vineyards care about is quality; all they seek out is quality. Supermarkets need quantity – simple as that. I think the problem is marketing tells people that these wines are all crafted by artists and wine makers when they are not really – that’s just marketing, they are mass produced. The wines we sell are all are handed crafted, hand harvested.”

Low calorie wines?

Diligently taking tasting notes
Diligently taking tasting notes

Low calorie wines have a reputation for being of lesser quality than normal wines but the Wine Festival introduced us to a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Invivo Bella and you would never know it had 30% less calories than your average Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are picked 2 weeks prior to the full harvest so that there’s less residual sugar. You might have heard from its ‘full calorie’ version the Invivo Eight Point Sauvignon Blanc, who has Graham Norton as a fan no less. We got to taste the two versions side by side and we could not pick which one was the low calorie version, a testament to its success. Kirstin elaborated on the wine:

“How do you make something low calorie? Its naturally low calorie because they harvest the wine two weeks early, so there are less residual sugars and less alcohol, so its 9% AVB and 30% less calories, but it’s a premium. It’s a premium Marlborough, Marlborough is where the best Sauvignon Blanc comes from, and its a premium quality.”

Chocolate Box

The Wine Festival featured wines from across the globe and certain wines flew off the tables quicker than others. When we arrived there were big crowds around the Champagne table, Kirstin agreed:

“The Champagne and sparkling wines are always popular and The Chocolate Box wines have had a lot of interest too. The Chocolate Box are beautiful wines, the packaging is very lovely, too. Have you seen the Australian stuff –Raconteur with the fancy labels? These are from Margaret Rivers, which is where most of the fine wines come from, a good percentage of them. Margaret Rivers is on the Perth side, whereas most of the others are from Melbourne. We seek out smaller production, artists, boutiques, family owned wineries – we bring them to people at fantastic value. While some of them are £12, £15 or £25, think about what you would pay in a restaurant.”

The Wine Palate host two of these events each year, with the next one on the 31st October, and we can’t recommend it highly enough; tremendous quality wines of fantastic value and hosted by experts. Keep an eye out on their website for smaller events throughout the year like the one on 31st May, ‘Wines From Around The World’ and visit their website to buy any of their wines online, all year round.