Saturday, 28 January 2017

Bolivia? You're kidding!

Toby Chiles, we owe you a great debt of appreciation.

The first meeting of 2017 needs to be 'Box Office' and so it was, we were lucky enough to enjoy both a greatly skilled speaker but also a presentation that gave members both expertise and knowlege.

We had an introduction to different wines, wines that we almost certainly would not have tasted without being introduced by Toby.  We  also learned very much more about the matching of wines to food types.

So, Toby a B I G thank you, you did great job which we all  enjoyed and came away  more skilled then when we arrived - perfect!

One of the themes for the night was the point that when we buy wines we perhaps should walk past the usual and move to wines that are outside of our personal comfort zones. What did Toby mean by this?   He suggests that we need to look out for wines that are not from places we associate with wine making, places like, India, Mexico, Bolivia.  Sometimes made with grapes we may have never heard of.   His rational behind this is the fact that the market for wine is highly competitive and few outlets are going to risk placing poor wines on the valuable shelf space.

Well that is the background but what was the results?

All the wines were tasted blind, and none of the wines were classed as poor. On the contrary the standard was high and all intersting.

The wines:

The Greek Atlantis wine, Lime and pears dominate, followed by off sweet finish.  (M&S @£12:00)

The Romanian Paparuda Feteasca Regla, here we a have an example of a dry white wine that has a burden to carry if you are trying to sell the wine. One of the things which wines need to have is a name that is at least recognisable, and a grape that is likewise, at least familiar, now, who has heard of the Feteasca Regala?  But here is a very good dryish wine, partly aged on American Oak for £7:00 per bottle   (

Now to the UK, the Dart Valley and off dry with loads of fruit. - very impressive.  £11.00 from

India, too hot to grow grapes for wine making, well yes but only too hot at low levels, up in the hills it's fine and this wine was a real surprise, and lets be honest, when does M&S disappoint?  They sell this good wine bursting with mango, and gooseberry and made from Sauvignon Blanc.   £8:00   M&S

Wines tasted and compared, judged with and without foods, and my oh my, what a difference salt or sugar can make, how the tannins fade with fatty sausage, how the white wines make soft cheeses sing and make hard cheese and the wine become tasteless.   This last point quite amazing.

We also discover how good or not so good we are at smelling and defining what we are smelling. It seems that about 1 in 7 or 8 can identify a smell, Caramel and for most lemon was easy but then of the remainder of the smell tests most of us were without a clue, again something of a shock. This leading us to conclude we all live in our own world or bubble when it comes to tasting, so if it works for you, that's fine.  

We had two quick quizes, trivia on wine, congrats to Dan and Louise:

The semi final.

After a number of impressive whites it was now into the world of tannins, Uruguay, Macedonia, Mexico, Bolivia.  All very good wines, and more that  that, intersting wines, and what a great thing to offer up, blind with friends over food?

The Bernard Magrez Elegancia, sadly not longer available in the UK just now.

A Mexican Malbec, vibrant, would be good with red meats.

M&S £7:00

Bolivia, really? Oh yes and very good indeed. Another M&S find at £11.00 

A very good red, loads of black fruits. 

Back to Europe for the wine from Macedonia, a robust merlot, but a well mannered wine. 

M&S £7:00

The meeting would not be complete without a 'stickie' and what to eat with the same. Surprise, surprise, would a blue cheese be good, or maybe high cocoa chocolate, not good but fantastic. Both food and wine made better. 

The hit of the sweetness and the depth of flavours, beautiful, and this from Portugal.  A Moscatel, Amazon.  £13.00 for 75c cl. 

Now a date for your diary, the next meeting will be a week later than normal, APRIL 7.  The wines of Portugal.


  1. A very enjoyable evening. Great to try out some different wines from "off the beaten track".....marvellous! Thanks for organising a splendid evening Bruce!

    1. Many thanks, yes a great night, I think we will be seeing more of Toby in the future, a very able speaker but with great content as well.