Wine tastings in a casual setting at Blackbeard's in Camana Bay

Wine tastings in a casual setting at Blackbeard's in Camana Bay

As a casual wine drinker, I’ve enjoyed my share of the beverage, but never delved much into the specifics or explored far beyond my handful of favourite brands. It was a treat to try options I might never have reached for at the 16 September wine tasting at Blackbeard’s Camana Bay.

On the first and third Wednesday of every month, Blackbeard’s hosts casual complimentary wine tastings at its Camana Bay and Grand Harbour locations. The happy-hour style events are intended to showcase specials and introduce guests to lesser known wines. Attendees can taste as many as eight wines while learning from specialists and socialising with fellow wine enthusiasts.
The event I attended was led by Wine Specialist Rebecca Leumann, who recently completed her WSET Level 4 Diploma. Rebecca is one of few wine industry workers on island to have completed this two-year in-depth course.

Rebecca first explained how the tasting would progress: We would start with subtler whites before moving into complex reds, with a rosé midway to help transition the palate. To determine the evening’s wines, Rebecca tastes them all before the Blackbeard’s team does a trial run of the ideal tasting order. A list of the selected wines is sent to Foster's Camana Bay, where a cheeseboard is created to pair with the wines on offer.

Wines are also selected to suit the week’s theme, which is chosen by Wine Specialist Charlie Nicholson. “Tonight’s theme is 'Elegant Wines,'" she said, adding that all the wines chosen offered good value for the quality.

We began with the Cooper Hill Pinot Gris, a light white wine with floral notes out of Oregon. Rebecca said that although Pinot Gris is the same grape as Pinot Grigio in Italy, Oregon Pinot Gris has its roots in Alsace, France, where the resulting wines are typically fuller-bodied and more textured than Pinot Grigio from Italy. Even a Pinot Gris newbie like me could easily detect more layers than the standard crispness of a Pinot Grigio.
Next tasted was Inama Soave Classico, a white wine from the Veneto region of Italy that is made with the Garganega grape. I found the wine light, but also that it had an immediate subtle bitterness. Rebecca more eloquently described it as “nutty and buttery."
The third choice, Don Olegario Albariño, was surprising in that it had a slight fizziness, to go with a pleasant aroma.

The Elk Cove Rosé, fourth up, quickly became my favourite. As you lift the glass, you can smell the berries; it has a rosy flavor, and its deeper pink colour was visually appealing.
We moved into reds next, starting with an easy-drinking Pinot Noir made by sustainable brand Planet Oregon. This was followed by San Polo Rosso di Montalcino, a more textured entry-level red, then Cune Reserva and finally a heavier dinner wine, Chateau de Rouanne Vinosobres.

I came away with the Elk Cove Rosé and San Polo Rosso di Montalcino, but would buy the Don Olegario Albariño in the future. This month’s events are themed "Chilean Wines" on 7 October and New World vs. Old World Wines on 21 October.

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By Maia King