In what was our first semi-public event, we’d like to thank all those who attended for making the night a special one for us, and especially Diar il-Bniet who provided an absolutely lovely setting for us to flourish. In hindsight, there was a nice poetic twist to it, as the wines chosen were new world American wines being tasted in a place steeped in old Maltese culture and cuisine.
Once the guests had arrived, Emann launched into a quick introduction of the group, what we’re about and where we aim to be in the near future. To summarise in a few words, we’re not sommeliers or outright experts; we’re here to appreciate the good stuff and share the experience together with you our readers and guests.
An intriguing aspect of our night was the most of the wines being tasted were not just a first for our guests…it was a first for us too! Speaking of taste, Emann was explicit in the fact that there is no right or wrong taste as such: it is what it is. If you like a certain wine and not another, it doesn’t mean your taste buds are off and you should stay away from what you don’t know. On the contrary, we seek to give some background to each bottle, but then everything is open for discussion.
Being the 4th of July, it was more than appropriate to go for American wines, and the bottles of choice were The Federalist Chardonnay, Pacific Heights Zinfandel Blush (or Rosé for us Europeans), A to Z Pinot Noir, Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon and the evening was brought to a close by Boom Boom Syrah by Charles Smith.
Fun fact: they use AVA which shows geographical area, rather than DOCG, so it’s not as strict as Europe.
Kicking off the evening with this Chardonnay in particular was a bit risky – though it’s always recommended to start with white wine, opening with 14.5% alcohol gets you going pretty quickly! Having said that, it’s a very pleasant wine to drink, and it did draw quite a few quiet “oohs” and “aahs” (yes, your writer is rather observant on such occasions), and one person in particular just looked to their neighbour and simply stated: “wow”. It got the public’s vote, and with its aromas of lemon and cinnamon in particular, it actually matched pretty well with the traditional Maltese food on offer.
The Pacific Heights Zinfandel blush, was also kind of risky as some (including yours truly) would be averse to drinking rosé due to misconceptions or quite simply, taste. It was also the perfect opportunity address these misconceptions due to commercial wines being the most known (and you know who we’re talking about). In this case, people were pleasantly surprised by the quality, but it didn’t inspire as much reaction as the Chardonnay.
A to Z and right in the middle…our evening’s Pinot Noir made headlines with critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, and the first sip gets you interested enough to keep drinking. It’s very light on the palate, and though most of the guests are already well versed in the world of wine, they surely enjoyed this one. Worth noting about this winery is that being relatively small in size, they prefer to focus on top quality wines rather than churning out bottle after bottle, thus preserving a certain niche element to their name.
Also a low-yield-high-quality oriented winery, Robert Mondavi’s Cabernet Sauvignon was a pleasant wine to set us up for the final. Though the murmurs had been generally increasing with each sip prior to this wine, it was here that our guests really let the wine do the talking. Opinions were voiced and shared, and someone also asked why the blend of grapes is necessary: simply put, it’s down to the fact that the Sauvignon grape mellows the natural spice of its Cabernet Franc counterpart. Here we paused for a while to not just savour the moment, but also allow a bit of a break before delving into our last wine for the evening.
To conclude, we decided to go out with a bang – Charles Smith’s Boom Boom is the kind of wine that leaves a lasting impact on you, in the sense that you’ll remember the moment and place you took your first sip of this fantastic Syrah. It quite literally put a smile on people’s faces; it’s smoky aroma just gets you into the mood for a summer barbecue and its spicy nature has made it one of Washington’s signature wines since 2007.
Fun Fact: it’s a tribute to Charles’ first love lost – a woman nicknamed “Boom Boom” O’Brien.
Once this last bottle was opened, it was a free for all conversation – it was an open discussion on all things wine, beer, whiskey, food and America, so all in all, it was a successful night for us as “The Next Bottle” because we reached our goal. All involved learned about American wines, new friends were made, old ones reconnected and everyone had a blast topped off by the Boom Boom!
It’s here that we now sign off, but stay tuned as we look to continue our journey in August, and next we’ll be moving onto Spanish wines. In the mean time though, stay safe and see you around!