Monday, 25 July 2016

Brilliant speaker, brilliant wines.

July 2016, remembered for many things not all of them good but one thing that is good is the weather, at last Summer has arrived. The hottest day of the year was on the Tuesday just past and for the Wine Club's evening meeting a wonderful Summer's evening could be enjoyed.  One of those evenings that  are very special and somehow very English.  This feeling made all the more so by the village cricket teams playing within earshot of our open windows, so the sound of leather on willow and not accompanied by warm beer as immortalised by John Major but this time accompanied by some very special wines.

The Wine Club has been very fortunate over the years by having some very good speakers with some very good wines to speak of. This was very much the case last night when we were indeed fortunate. After all how many wine lovers have had the pleasure of hearing a New Zealand wine maker speak and discuss New Zealand wines.  Our indebtedness is owed to both Louise Kelly, she is the Aunt to our speaker for the meeting so a big thank you to Louise for asking your nephew to speak last night.

Lee Winston is clearly someone who loves his job and loves the work and the industry that he has chosen to be part of. Lee is a winemaker in New Zealand.    He gave superb talk of the wines and the background to the wine industry of New Zealand.

When organising the evening Lee was very specific about the types of wines and which vineyards the wines should be sourced from.

So Lee, if you get to read this, THANK YOU, a great evening, and one that all the members we remember with pleasure for many years.

In addition to great wines great cheeses, but let me first go through the wine choices.

Lee was telling us some facts about the NZ wine industry, for example 80% + of wine exported is the Sauvignon Blanc grape based wine, and when we think of NZ it's that type of wine we often think of.  Its a wine that is loved by the Brits but strangely when made in New Zealand tastes just so very different from the French offering.  Lee though, quite rightly thought we all will know the wine so  instead we were treated to some great Riesling as the first wine.

What a very good choice and bottle of wine. As most members know, here is grape that is something of a chameleon in the hands of the wine maker, sweet/ dry, high/low alcohol. oak, non oak and a wine that can be very different dependant of the methods of production and, as the French may say, the terroir.

This Riesling, a wine not often though of as one coming from NZ was a cracker, the first of many.

Just the right side of dry and just the right amount of Riesling taste, sorry but this is the only way I can think of describing this wine.

This one of two from the Villa Maria estate, a companion wine to the Savvy Blanc that they make, another good wine, perhaps a label to buy when you see it.

Also the lowest cost wine of the evening at c£8.50 / bottle.

I should just add that all the wines came via the net, none available in the local high street.  The two firms that can supply one or both were:


Both offer a good delivery service.

The cheese we ate with this was a local cows milk cheese called St Eadburgha, a beautiful Camembert look a like but not from Normandy but from Hook Norton.   This cheese came from the cheese man who sells at the market in Witney on Thursday and most Saturdays.  He consistently has a great range and well priced cheeses - he can offer good guidance to if you want to buy.

On to wine number 2, A chardonnay from New Zealand, whatever next, whatever next indeed, well form this vineyard that would be a Gewurztraminer.

The Chardonnay was superb, I know that many shun the grape, too many headaches after an over-oaked number perhaps, this was smooth, a great flavour and a delight. Highly recommended.

The cheese seller of Witney Market put us on to a wonderful Goat Cheese to go with the Chardonnay, mild, soft, a perfect companion to the wine.  This will take you to the cheese makers web site.  and while adding web sites this is the site of the cheese seller

Now to wine number three, the Gewurztraminer, this was one wine where the experience of knowlege of Lee really helped, how many know that this wine is available, let's be honest the grape is a little unusual even from 'Old World' producers but in New Zealand, well its hardly grown is the truth of the matter and very little is exported.  The best wine of the night, well that is all down to the individual choice, but this was very popular indeed and more so as very unexpected.

The cheese here was that old stalwart for the club, the triple cream  A French cheese that is known as the boyfriend loser, it seem that some men will prefer this to the girlfriends, well maybe but a cheese that is made with full cream milk and added cream as well, Yes, very good too!  A Waitrose availability.

During the break we had a small presentation of Wine Trivia, and then on to the Red Wines.

The first of these was the Pinot Noir

This is often called the other signature wine from NZ, boy was this a good choice, all the great characteristics of this wine type was here in spades, just superb. 

The cheese was Epoisses, a very pungent smell but a very good taste as well.  Available from Waitrose.

Red Wine number two was a Merlot / Cabernet blend from Hawkes Bay.  A blend that is liked by many, a good blend as well, this was an evening when all the wines can be recommended.   This one to have with the hearty meal.  The cheese was the award winning Caerphilly, again from the market.  Exceptional.

The last wine, a  Syrah, a grape that for some can be too 'peppery', but  not here, another stunning example. Coupled with a Montgomery Chedder, aged and lovely, The combination brought an end to an exceptional evening of wines and cheeses and a great look at the NZ wine industry. All very good!


Wine labels, Martin Marais gave a great talk on  this subject and mentioned that if you had some unusual labels to share then send them across, so here is the first of the unusual wine labels, so a big thanks to Carol and Phil, this is a wine from Madeira. Great label!

Have a great holiday if you are about to depart, and we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting which will be SEPTEMBER 30th.  John and Renate will be sharing with us their favourite German wines.

Bruce Hammersley

Email link below.

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