Saturday, 1 February 2020

2020, and Wine Club starts a new year....

At the start of each new season for the Freeland Wine Club for the last four years we have started with the first meeting being given by the very able and knowledgeable speaker  Toby Chiles.

For this year, we were to go to Australia for our wines and wine choices, but not the wine that is so often associated with Australia, Chardonnay, none to be seen but rather a selection of grapes and wines all very new to the members.

Toby did as ever, a great job in sourcing interesting choices of wine but also did a great job of entertaining and informing.

He is a master of the stand up / sit down quiz.  Not complicated, and with the multiple choice answers numbering two you might think it would be a breeze, a breeze it wasn't but very entertaining it was.

Normally I would now go through the various wines but on this Blog I will first show the winners, you see we had number of trivia quizzes and those that know the Wine Club will be aware of the high level of competitiveness  that comes out whenever the word quiz or competion is mentioned, so the winners:

 And the wines:

We enjoyed 8 wines, one white, two sparkling wines, three reds and two sweet wines.

All accompanied by various cheeses, these were a soft Brie de Meaux, two hard cheeses to accompany the reds, a Wensledale and a mature Gouda, the sweet wines had a choice of chocolate, 70% cocoa or a French Roquefort.  All worked very well.

The wines.

An easy drinking wine, a term that can be interpreted many ways but in this context a pleasant wine but not a remarkable wine.   Certainly citrus notes and maybe a touch of ginger there. 

Pinot Noir, within the bottle and available form Waitrose, Those that love Pinot will enjoy the crisp and cool 'fizz' .     A very slight blush to the colour of the wine harvested in the cool of the night in the Adelaide Hills.

A great label to this Fork and Spoon sparkling Shiraz, but maybe a red fizz too far, some enjoyed but a lot found the concept of red fizz daunting. The question of what would you drink this with and why?  But then the price is an incentive.(£5.99)

This was a super wine, the grape associated with Italy and the Tuscan Barolo,  so here you have an Australian Barolo and this is a fine wine.  Better with a duck or hearty meal that will allow the wine to cut through the richness of the foods.

The best received wine of the evening, a delightful Cab Sav, just soft, lovely. From Amazon!

The follow the Cab Saves would never be easy, but this wine was a worthy wine, better with foods and very acceptable.

Then the 'stickies" oh yes!

Toby was telling us of the challenges of making wines like this, huge numbers of grapes are needed as the grapes are withering on the vine, so no wonder the cost is higher but then only a small amount is needed and the depths of flavours are immense. Of the two this was the weaker I felt but still a worthwhile wine.

...And what does the label say, aged 8 years in barrel, jutst gorgeous. and fortified to 18%.  A cracker!

Thanks to all for making the evening go so well, if there you will know that we had large turnout, the largest in fact to date, but all worked well and only down to us all working as a team.

Have good 2020 to all and see you at the end of March


Saturday, 23 November 2019

Not so much a Blog.....

....more a set of pictures

November 22nd, and Christmas starts here. At the end of the Wine Club's Season we have what could call a social evening. A pot luck supper, quizzes, games and the odd  poem.  It also marks the first of the Christmas get togethers. Last night we enjoyed such an evening a large turn out for the Club and what did we enjoy on the wine front?

We had three wines.:

Al available locally and all well received.

The crement came from Aldi at a little over £8.00 a bottle. some say a complete snip. Light and just the right side of acid.  

With our foods, a choice of the above Viognier, a wine that I was advised tastes different from each region. Well this is produced in the very South of France, its so hot in that part of the world that the harvest, the vendage, is completed at night. A Waitrose wine at around £9.00 per bottle.

This accompanied by a great red, the soft and smooth but with a very good character - the Cairanne.

 Another Waitrose win at the £12.00 ish price.  Very well received indeed, and often on offer via the store.

My thanks go to the makers of really fine foods, a magnificent 'spread', both savoury and sweet. 

A huge thanks to all concerned.  

Now for the pictures:

A massive thank you to Martin, who would have thought you could have so much fun with Scrabble tiles?  A really good choice of games and quiz's and well managed by you as quiz master.

An almost spontaneous reading of a very good wine based poem.  Many thanks Hugh.

And then there were the members, sadly not everyone photographed but here a few:

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Sounds like Germany but it's quite definitely France

The Wines of Alsace

Now it's September, the Summer is a memory and we are officially in the Autumn season, the season of mellowness and so it was with the selection of wines for our September meeting of the Wine Club. 

We were to taste the wines of the Alsace  region of France.  

We were fortunate to have the experience and knowledge of the Ian Sobey to give us an, almost literally, a birds eye view to the area and of the wines of this little known wine region of France.

Ian many thanks, once again you were able to both tell and us show the region aided by the brilliant Google Maps app, allowing us to fly over the region and to drop down and virtually visit the streets, towns and vineyards of the areas we were to taste on our visit to the AOC.

The evening began with our usual welcome wine, but here we had luck on our side as one of the Wine Club organisers, Chris,  had just returned form the region with wine for the opening of the evening, and so we were able to enjoy a cool glass of Slivaner to start the evening. 

Interesting the cat from the pub also came along to the meeting, he felt the sweeter wines we're to his taste!

Ian flew us over the area and down into the town and vineyards with Google earth, this was a great way to get a feel of the area and the region.  It seems that the Alsace AOC is very strict on what grapes can by put into wine bottles.  Blends are big no-no in the ares with the area being dominated by the production of white wines and off dry white wines.  

Historically the region has been at the centre of a number of political and military conflicts resulting an an area that is France but feels like Germany in many ways. The German language is spoken in part and the town names and looks reflect the strong German influence.   When looking at the wines the grape varieties are also heavily influenced by Germans varieties, Riesling and Gurwurtztraminer being two of the key varieties grown in the area. 

The wines are dominated by white wine, 90% of production is white wine with 10% given over to Pinot Noir

The whites are dominated by floral and peachy aromas and can pair well with chicken, guinea fowl and quail.  The wines, although off dry do still retain acidity to balanced by the sugars.  No use of oak leaves a smooth and a subtle wine. 

In addition the whites, the Pinot Gris, Guwurtztraminer, and Riesling we also tasted two ofthe Pinot Noir wines. These are produced in small amounts and do fetch a premium price tag. 

The first was a very soft and gentle Pinot but the second more robust and had more depth.  

The other type of production of the area is of Crement, to many this is another name for the wine that comes from the Reims area of France but cannot be called Champagne. Made in the same way but with differing grapes, the crement was a great start to the evening and a very good wine.

And finaly a  thank you to Phil for thinking of the Wine Club in asking our speaker to come along and share his enthusiasm and knowledge with us.

The cheeses for he evening were a miix ou UK, Spanish and Awiss cheeses.

The UK ones were the Cornish Brie (Waitrose)
Yorkshire Blue (Waitrose)
Red Fox - Red Leicester (Aldi)

Spanish Manchego (Aldi)

Swiss Kaltbach (Waitrose)

Welsh goat (Aldi)

Date of next meeting and note change of date:

November 22nd.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Martin goes to Japan

July and the day the heat wave breaks, well good because on the evening we have some travelling to do.

Martin, something of a veteran speaker to the Wine Club,  takes us to countries not normally associated with wine and wine production, Japan, Israel, Uruguay, The Lebanon, India and, would you believe, Thailand.    It's fair to say that the great wine producing countries and areas of the world need not be too worried about the amount or competition from the wines from these wines but they were more than just drinkable, they were interesting, different and in one or two cases, exceptional.  They were always surprising, but in a good way

Martin, a very willing speaker and on this occasion a willing model.

A very good talk Martin, a surprising one and one that gave us all the chance to taste and assess the wines from countries we almost certainly would not have been able to have done without your diligent search and sourcing of these surprising wines.  Many thanks.

The first wine, one of two white wines, was from Japan.   Not a country known for wine, A country that shared the problem of all the countries wines we tried, a climate that is not best suited to the growing of grapes. So a challenge but one that was accepted and resulted in a wine that's suitable as an aperitif, not a lot of body or style, but very pleasant as pre dinner drink with friends prior to eating fish or a light salad perhaps. In which case this wine could carry through the meal.  It would certainly lead to the discussion of the wine.  It would be almost certain that no one had tasted Japanese wines before. It was challenge to obtain in the UK and this had to be bought on line from a specialist retailer.

The wine is available from at £18.99

Wine  Number 2, a Chenin Blanc from India.

Chenin Blanc the grape most associated with South Africa, but here on very good form from the sub continent. After the rather bland first wine this was very good, A crisper offering and a very satisfactory wine, all the more so when you start to think where the wine is form, the country of tigers and monsoon!

Grape: Chenin Blanc
Year: 2017
Estate: Sula Vineyards (founded 1999)
Region: Nashik Valley
ALC: 12.0%
Price: £10.99

Before our break and the chance to review the cheeses we try our first red, a rather soft wine from Thailand. Here the problem is not so much the growing of grapes but rather stopping of the vines from producing grapes continually, without the seasons the vines will keep on growing grapes twice a year, and not very good grapes at that. The wine makers have to make the vines think it has been winter by stripping leaves and in so doing starting the fruiting cycle at a time that will give just  one crop a year, this process seems to does make for a soft and very pleasant wine to drink.

Grape: Shiraz blend
Year: 2013
Estate: Monsoon Valley (founded 2003)
Region: Hua Hin
ALC: 12.0%
Price: £9.99

The second of the red wines was, for many the best wine of the evening, possibly because the previous wines were soft and a little neutral on taste but this wine, a rather gusty red was very well liked. Accompanied by the salty Roquefort cheese this was winner.

Something of a surprise was that Israel has been making wines since 1882, the vines introduced by the Rothschild family. A very good and very enjoyable red, and from the Judean Hills of Isreal.

Grape: Argaman
Year: 2017
Estate: Segal Winery (founded 1954)
Region: Judean Foothills
ALC: 12.5%
Price: £13.49
Retailer: Eynsham Cellars

One of the countries to border Israel is the Lebanon, and it was the Lebanon that gave is our next wine, another red but bolder now.  From the Bekaa Vally, of course it is and why not, this was a gutsy wine, for some a little too much maybe but with a the mature cheddar, a grade 5 on the cheese Richter scale, the cheese complemented the wine well and made for a good team.  The cheese was the extra mature cheddar.

Grape: Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Syrah 40%, Cinsault 15%, Carignan 5%)
Year: 2015
Estate: Domaine des Tourelles(founded 1868)
Region: Bekaa valley
ALC: 14.5%
Price: £12.99
Retailer: Eynsham Cellars

Our final wine of the evening was one that was made from the grape noted for its exceptional levels of tannin, so we knew that this was going to be a wine that is astringent and it was but  one that would age well in the bottle. Some said this is one to lay down for a few years and would make great wine.The wine comes from Uruguay, a formidable grape and wine, bring out the boar stew!

Grape: Argaman
Year: 2017
Estate: Segal Winery (founded 1954)
Region: Judean Foothills
ALC: 12.5%
Price: £13.49
Retailer: Eynsham Cellars

The cheeses of night were:

1 Ricotta 
2 Gruyere
3 Reblochon
4 Roquefort
5 Mature Cheddar
6 Stilton

The cheeses were bought from Aldi with the exception of nos. 2 and 3 they were from Waitrose.  All were thought to be of high quality.