Sunday, 4 October 2020

 English Wines of some quality.

Its so good to be member of a Wine Club with members that will step up and take on tasks that are not easy.  Why would I say this, well the subject in question is English wines. Maybe you will be aware of the fact that the production of English Wine has increased by 75% in six years, that there are now over 500 vineyards in England.  That our, soon to be called English Champagne has won major awards.  All true but also the feeling that these  wines  expensive and not always such great tasting wines which maybe,  do not represent great value.   

So how would anyone like to talk on the subject and throw some well needed light on the matter. Our speaker, our own Wine Club member Terry Glossop was that very man.  He gave a very comprehensive talk and went a long way to put to rest some of the possible unconscious bias of the members, (I for one) hold. 

We we walked through the recent history of wine production in the UK. Let's be honest we are a very long way North to compete with areas of the world which boast 300 days of sunshine, and sunshine is needed to make the sugars to produce the grapes suitable to produce first class wines. But then we now have the possible curse of the 21st century, climate change, the South of`England is now able to produce grapes on a regular basis that do have the sugars and maturity dates needed to produce good wines.  What is emerging is also the ability to have consistent and very good quality effervescent wines. It seems post Brexit we can  call such wines English Champagne.  Little surprise then that Tattinger are making wines, sparkling wines in the UK, other Champagne houses have a record of something similar in other parts of the world so its interesting to see the UK  has now joined that list of options.

So of the wines, on Zoom we were able to talk about the wines we were tasting and what we thought of them - generally we thought them fine, with thought then on the expensive side but also  somewhat surprising, typical comments were, 'Well I'm surprised, yes this is a good wine, a distinctive wine but a fine glass...'.  would people buy again, maybe is the answer, that the price point of the wines are against some stiff competition from many famous and good wines .  That said the one wine that was well received was the Three Chires Wine (Majestic) and also the fizz from our local vineyard at Brightwell, the 'English Champagne'  was said to be quite exceptional.

Terry a big thanks and thanks to all participants, the Wine Club continues and does so because of the collaborative work of all involved.

Terry noted a number of English wines with prices and availabilities.

Three Choirs White -- Offer price £11 from Majestic.
Balfour Chardonnay Ortega 2019-- Price £13 from Marks & Spencer
Woodchester Culver Hill -- Price £13.99 from Eynsham Cellars
Brightwell Pinot Noir -- Price £15.49 from Eynsham Cellars
Blackbook Chardonnay Clayhill Essex 2018 -- Price £19 from 
Simpsons The Roman Road Chardonnay, Kent--Price £27 from

We hope to be able to offer something approaching a social evening at our usual date -in later November, this we will need to circulate when the have further plans confirmed and will be emailing in due course.  


Saturday, 8 August 2020

 An evening like no other

What a night, humidity you could cut with a knife and sadly only a few faces on the Zoom meeting, what a shame as this meeting turned out to be just terrific, and why was that?

Well the format was not the usual, we had three speakers, three members offering what to them were  wines that meant something more than just the wine.  For this we thank our speakers, Marilyn, Bill, and Bob.

Marilyn told of memorable holidays and visits to South Africa, giving memories of tasting a stunning Chardonnay on the vineyard in Stellenbosch, and then the holiday in the South of France,Provence and a luscious Rosé.  Bill tells of a white cote de Rhone, almost as rare as hen's teeth and a good looking Cote de Bourge, with Bob offering us a Spanish Ganash alongside an English white wine.

All the wines are noted below, and are available to buy.  

Bill was telling us of the vineyard B&B that the had stayed in when on holiday in the Bordeaux region and tasted the wine at the vineyard and of the family making the wines.  Marilyn of the trip to Provence, enjoying the wine while looking out over the wonderful Cote d'Azure. and Bob's childhood being spent next to the Woodchester Vineyard near Stroud, shades to Cider with Rosie here!

Sadly your Blogwriter failed in not recording the evening which turned out to be concluded with a quiz, this was wonderfully eccentric with the questions not always being understood or in the correct order. The result was a relaxed and enjoyable quiz the points gained being le ss important than taking part. Something that were always told as a child, it's the taking part that matters, last night this was the case.  To the Quizmasters, husband and wife team, David and Mary, a big thanks you. 

The wines:


  • Maison Castel, Cotes de Provence 2019 Rose.  (On discount at Wairose)

Eynsham Cellars

  • Lanzerac Chardonnay white wine from Stellenbosch.  Winemaker: Wynard Lategan.  Origin: jonkershook Valley.  Winery: Lanzerac Wine Estate,
    South Africa.  
  • Tres Picos, Borsao, Garnacha

  • Woodchester Valley, Culver Hill 

Wine Society

  • Caractere 2017 by Chateau de la Grave from the Cote de Bourg (right bank) bordeux.

Monday, 6 July 2020

The Wine Club goes to The Napa Valley

We all know of it, we know Napa Valley is in California and we have heard of the wines, we know they are said to be some of the best in the world. We know only a little of how much wine is produced,  we know the wines are  expensive and that in '76 they amazed the world in a famous blind tasting which resulted in them being classed as the best wines in the world.

We were taken there with the very excellent guide, our very own David Lloyd   David was hoping to spend time on sabbatical in California and so we joined him on his virtual trip and time there.

The evening was set up well, and was like a game of football, it came in two parts, we kicked off with the wine area, the size, the values, the costs of the wines and the amount produced, the history and the famous blind wine tasting of the mid 70's which shot the Valley into the  stratosphere of quality wines a position that have enjoyed since and still enjoy today.

The members do like a good quiz, so we had two, they were based on what we had just seen and heard, David must have been pleased as the members all did well remembering much of the detail of the presentations.

Here I take the opportunity to say a big thank you to the team that put the evening together, in addition to David a big thanks to Chris and Phill, and to Louise, our quiz masters and tech co-chair.  All just brilliant.

For the second part of the evening David gave told us of his dream trip around California and the Napa Valley, as mentioned David was hoping to spend time this year when he took a sabbatical, sadly that is now not going to happen but his time in planning was not wasted as he was able to take us on that tour, and the tour was terrific.

A you will imagine the winemakers of the Valley know how to show their vineyards to very best, and in the Valley this can be to an amazing degree.

To do this  we climbed aboard the Wine Train and visited a number of vineyards,

We went on to see more all were amazing and fantastic:

Take for example the  Castello di Amorosa. Built at stupendous cost tof $40,000,000 to showcase the wines of the world famous vineyard.

Or the vineyard of the film producer Francis Ford Coppola:

David tells us of the highly exclusive vineyards such as Screaming Eagle, no wine tasting possible and wine can only be bought if you are 'on the list' of those that can buy. Then a limit of how much can be purchased and then the wine could be sold on for a multiple of the amount bought for.   If you are think the Napa Valley is not like anywhere else in the world of wine you would be right. And our thanks for David for lifting the lid on the world for us.


It was very clear from the general feeling of the membership that the Zoom meetings are well received, in some ways offering some advantages over meeting in the Village Hal, that said though it is also clear we will be happy to be back in our usual venue but sadly that still looks like being a way off. On the horizon though we could, perhaps,  have our usual social evening in later November if restrictions are eased a little more.  While that is on hold I think we can say it just may be possible to meet then and remain within the restrictions needed for group meetings.

What we do want to do is to have another Zoom meeting in August, normally we assume too many are away on holiday in August but not so this year.

As soon as we are organised on that front I will be emailing with dates etc.


Sunday, 7 June 2020

First a virtual winemaker and now a virtual trip to France

The Wine Club only meets every other month, well it did but during the pandemic and lockdown we cannot get together, share wines and generally have a jolly time, so we now meet every month, we can meet and hear speakers from the other side of the world, we can re-run the Wine Club's visit to the Loire region France last year and for our last meeting that is just what we did.

Last June 7 of us and Bob the dog visited the confusingly called central region of France but the Eastern end of the wine making area of the Loire. We wanted to taste and get to know the wines of the area, the area famous for the two famous wines of the Loire, Sancerre and Pouilly Fume.

We have taken one or two such trips in the past, it is done with what's sometimes called, a light touch, we all go independently  and meet up in area. In this case we had a Air BnB in the village of Fussy, close to the town of Bourges.

All worked well and we tasted and bought a number fo wines. 

Our main interest was the wines, but not  from Sancerre but rather the communes that are close to the town but are often overlooked or eclipsed by the world famous Sancerre AOC.

Sancerre itself produces app 18 million bottles of wine each year. It is a massive industry, by comparison the areas we saw where producing  some outstanding wines.

The AOC are

Menetou Salon

and slightly further  afield, Touraine. 

We also visited the town and vineyards in the Pouilly Fume area, based upon Pouilly Sur Loire

The striking aspect to these wines is how different they are but how much the same they are.  Let me explain. They are all made with  sauvignon blanc grape, all grown in the same area or nearly but, and it a very large but, their taste differences are distinct and different, not better or worse but different.  So yes a very interesting trip, terrific wines, a great evening allowing usto to return to it.

The talk(s) were given by Renata and John, Chris and myself, the after dinner treat was a suitably obscure quiz, of a visual nature by the very able quiz maestro Martin Marais.

Our next meet in this way will be (ABW) on July 3rd but more info will be coming in due course.

Once again a huge thanks to all the support and encouragement given and seen over the last few months, all greatly appreciated.


Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Virtual Wine Maker

So many things wrong with being cooped up and locked down but as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and so it  is.  We at the Wine Club have embraced Zoom, a word that was something to do with rockets until a few weeks ago and now we have Zoom meetings, and now we all know what is meant by this. At this n[meeting and by courtesy of Zoom we have a morning meeting with Lee, a very able and altogether lovely man from New Zealand.  Lee and his partner have now a young son, just two years old he was able to say hello to us all from the other side of the world, just terrific. We have to say a very biog thanks to you to Lee, you gave a great talk about the qualities of wine and this before his breakages and while we could enjoy wine tastings. Specifically he asked us to compare a 'good' wine , a more expensive wine to or a more 'run on the mill' wine but from the same area for comparison.  This we did and enjoyed to know more now of the telling points of comparison.

We were able to record most of the talk, this you will be able to access via the link in the email to this Blog.

So rather than this writer detailing the evening I suggest you hit the link and hear and see the man in action.

In addition to the talk we also had a very good but stupendously tricky quiz. Martin Marias thank you, it put us all into serious concentration mode and was just great.

Sadly this was not recorded.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

A Virtual Wine Club 

Easter and April 2020, lock down is well established with the whole country painfully aware of the need to be socially isolated or at the very least distant.  In our village so much of the communitie's activities have come to a halt, the very things that glue our community have stopped.  Included in this is a halt to our normal meetings and discussions with common interest groups so Wine Club has no longer been able to meet.  

That said the we did wonder if the use of technology can, perhaps, come to our aid here.  Three weeks ago the word Zoom was for most a word used by youngsters when playing with toy cars but now it has become a verb. Yes the virtual meeting is very alive and well but still a new type of technology and also one that for us in the Wine Club was unknown. 

A little over a week ago we decided to set up a Zoom meeting, not knowing very much about the mechanics or the acceptability of the arrangements for our members, we emailed all, we gave good directions and signposts as time, how etc. 

As  the  popularity of the platform has increased, this has meant hackers have found out ways to integrate themselves to some meetings. Zoom have respond well by beefing up the security levels and changes have been made to the protocols to enter and to get connected, so what you may say. Well for us it meant that our various mails with details of the meetings became nonsensical when  Zoom changed the reference numbers that allow members to join our first meeting. 

This we discovered just 10 minutes before we were to open up the meeting to all.  Our very able and cool minded controller of the mail system, Louise, sent out another and corrected mail shot to all members and we crossed our fingers.

As it turned out we needn't have been too concerned, come the evening around 50 members joined us for what become a very good, interesting and enjoyable meeting along with the chance to catch up  and  see our friends from the Club.

We aim to host another virtual Wine Club in a month's time, probably on the 8th May but confirmations etc will follow.

Also can I take this chance to say a huge THANK YOU to all involved last night, your patience  and good humour all helped to make the evening work.

(Ref: Bob Bradley)

We were very fortunate in having the very able services of Toby Chiles as our guest speaker, the role is not that easy, all the microphones are tuned off bar Toby so no feedback to the speaker, no response to has comments, no oh's and ah's at his observations. Toby did a great job, he spoke about storage, serving and the matching of wines with his usual aplomb and an obvious depth of knowledge.  What was more impressive in many ways was his discussion within the group of what wines members were drinking at home.

We had suggested that we all bought some wine to enjoy as we watched and listened, he was able to discuss all the wines and in some detail, alternative sources, food matching, the grape varieties and the cultural methods. He has a breathtaking range of knowledge.

Without wishing to re-invent the wheel let me add Toby's notes:


Here are some simple tips for storing wine effectively.

1.Store Wine at the Proper Temperature. Of all the factors influencing the quality of stored wine, temperature is perhaps the most important. Unsuitably warm or cold temperatures are a sure way to spoil wine. In general, the ideal temperature for long-term or short-term wine storage is around 55ºF (13ºC), but this can vary from wine to wine. For temperature recommendations about specific wines, consult the manufacturer. Regardless of the type or label, wine should never be kept below 25 °F (-4ºC), which can cause wine to freeze, or above 68°F (20°C), which can accelerate the aging process and destroy volatile compounds. Most importantly, your wine storage temperature should be kept as stable as possible: temperature fluctuations can cause the cork to expand and contract, allowing wine to seep out (or air to seep in) around it. 

2.Store Wine Bottles Horizontally. For bottles with corks, be sure to store your wine horizontally in a wine rack. Keeping wine on its side helps keep the cork moist, which is key for long-term storage, as a dried out cork can cause seepage and premature aging. While it’s not necessary to keep screw top wine bottles on their sides, horizontal storage is nevertheless an efficient way to store your wines for maximum space and easy access. 

3.Protect Wine from Light and Vibration. Whether you’re storing it for months, weeks, or days, keep your wine in the dark as much as possible. UV rays from direct sunlight can damage wine’s flavors and aromas. You should also keep wines away from sources of vibration, such as your washer and dryer, exercise area, or stereo system. Vibrations can disturb sediments in the bottle, disrupting the delicate process that causes wines to age favorably. 

4.Store Wine at the Proper Humidity. Humidity extremes in your wine cellar or storage area can also impact your wine’s longevity. At lower humidity levels, your corks can dry out, leaving the wine vulnerable to the effects of oxygen, while higher humidity can cause labels to peel off the bottles, making them difficult to display or sell. In general, your wine cellar humidity should be between 60 and 68 percent. 

5.Store Wine in a Wine Fridge, Not a Regular Fridge. If you don’t have a wine storage space that’s consistently cool, dark, and moist, a wine refrigerator (also known as a wine cooler) is a good idea. Unlike a standard refrigerator, which keeps your food very cold and dry, a wine fridge keeps wine between 50-60˚F (10-15˚C) and at the proper humidity. (A good fridge will also have a cooler setting for champagne.) Keeping your wine in a separate wine fridge also helps prevent cross-contamination from food odors. If cost is a concern, remember: wine can be an investment, and in that case a good wine fridge is a way to protect your investment. 

6.Serve Wine at the Proper Temperature. When preparing to serve a stored bottle to fellow wine lovers, allow time for it to come up (or down) to the proper serving temperature. This ensures full expression of wine aroma and flavor. Red wine should be served chilled slightly below room temperature, somewhere between 58 and 65˚F (about 12-19˚C). The precise temperature is determined by the age of the wine, with older wines being held better at 61-65˚F and younger wines on the colder end of the spectrum. Reds with stronger tannins should be kept on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum than lighter red wines, which can go as cold as 55˚F. White wines, meanwhile, can and should be served colder than reds. But they mustn't be kept so cold as to affect the aromas. Instead, white wine should be chilled between 45-55˚F (8-12˚C). White sparkling wines should be on the colder end of that spectrum, as should sweet white wines. Champagne should be served coldest of all, at 38-45˚F (5-8˚C). 

7.Store Open Bottles of Wine Properly. Stored properly, an opened bottle of wine can last 3-5 days. The key to extending the shelf life of an open wine and retain its original qualities is to recork it promptly and tightly. To recork wine, place some wax paper around the cork and slide it back into its original position. The wax will ease the cork into the top and also ensure that no stray parts of the cork drop into the bottle. If recorking isn’t an option——for instance, if the cork is splintered or has been discarded—a rubber wine stopper can create a tight seal. Finally, an upgrade option for recorking is a wine vacuum pump, which enables you to suck the air out of an open bottle, creating a nearly airtight seal.

9 Tips For Pairing Wine & Food

If you’re just getting started, you’ll find these tried-and-true methodologies to produce consistently great pairings. That said, as you get more familiar with different wines, you’ll become confident and can experiment breaking the rules! (Gamay with trout anyone?)

1.The wine should be more acidic than the food.
2.The wine should be sweeter than the food.
3.The wine should have the same flavor intensity as the food.
4.Red wines pair best with bold flavored meats (e.g. red meat).
5.White wines pair best with light-intensity meats (e.g. fish or chicken).
6.Bitter wines (e.g. red wines) are best balanced with fat.
7.It is better to match the wine with the sauce than with the meat.
8.More often than not, White, Sparkling and Rosé wines create contrasting pairings.
9.More often than not, Red wines will create congruent pairings

Congruent Pairings vs Contrasting Pairings

A contrasting pairing creates balance by contrasting tastes and flavors. 

A congruent pairing creates balance by amplifying shared flavor compounds

Identify The Basics Tastes

In this day and age, we’ve learned that there are over 20 different tastes found in food – from the basic, including sweet, sour and fat, to the extreme, including spicy, umami and electric. Fortunately you only need to focus on 6 tastes when pairing food and wine: Salt, Acid, Sweet, Bitter, Fat and Spice (Piquant).

Basic Taste Components in Wine
For the most part, wine lacks the 3 tastes of fatness, spiciness and saltiness but does contain acidity, sweetness and bitterness in varying degrees. Generally speaking, you can group wines into 3 different categories:
1.Red wines have more bitterness.
2.White, rosé and sparkling wines have more acidity.
3.Sweet wines have more sweetness. 

Basic Taste Components in Food
Simplify a dish down to its basic dominant tastes. For example, baked macaroni has 2 primary components: fat and salt. Southern barbecue is a bit more complex and includes fat, salt, sweet and spice (plus a little acid!). Even dishes without meat can be simplified. For example, a green salad offers acidity and bitterness; creamed corn offers fatness and sweetness.

Consider the Intensity
FOOD: Is the food super light or super rich? A salad may seem lighter, but perhaps the dressing is balsamic vinaigrette with high acidity. If the intensity of the dish isn’t obvious at first, just focus on the power of each taste component (acidity, fat, sweet, etc).
WINE: Is the wine light or bold? Here are a few examples:
•Sauvignon Blanc is light-bodied, but it has higher acidity
•Chardonnay has more body, but it’s usually not too acidic
•Pinot Noir is lighter bodied (for a red wine) and it doesn’t have too much tannin (bitterness).•Cabernet Sauvignon is more full-bodied and has high tannin (more bitterness)

The blue lines show flavor matches and the gray lines show flavor clashes

Cabernet Sauvignon
“Kab-er-nay Saw-vin-yawn”
 Taste: Black Cherry, Black Currant, Baking Spices, and Cedar (from oak)
 Style: Full-Bodied Red Wine
 Description: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red grape first heavily planted in the Bordeaux region. Today, it’s the most popular wine variety in the world! 
Wines are full-bodied with bold tannins and a long persistent finish driven mostly by the higher levels of alcohol and tannin that often accompany these wines.

 Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats, French, American, firm cheeses like aged cheddar and hard cheeses like Pecorino. 
Great Alternatives to Cabernet Sauvignon
•Merlot: Middle weight, lower in tannins (smoother), with a more red-fruited flavor profile
•Cabernet Franc:  Light to middle weight, with higher acid and more savory flavors, one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grapes.
•Carménère: Usually from Chile, very similar to Merlot in body, but with the aggressive savory flavors of Cabernet Franc
•The Bordeaux Blend: Usually dominant to Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but also includes any of the other Bordeaux varieties

“Sear-ah” (aka Shiraz)
 Taste: Blueberry, plum, tobacco, cured meat, black pepper, violet
 Style: Full-Bodied Red Wine
 Description: Syrah (aka Shiraz) is a full-bodied red wine that’s heavily planted in the Rhône Valley in France and Australia. The wines have intense fruit flavors and medium-weight tannins. Syrah is commonly blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to create the red Rhône blend. The wine often has a meaty (beef broth, jerky) quality.
 Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats; Mediterranean, French, and American firm cheeses like white cheddar, and hard cheeses like Spanish Manchego.

Great Alternatives to Syrah
•Malbec: (Argentina) More black-fruited, often with more aggressive oak usage, less meaty, but with more coffee and chocolate flavors
•Petite Sirah: (United States) This grape has no genetic relation to Syrah, but has even more aggressive tannin and a fuller body
•Monastrell: More broad texture, with similar meaty notes, but more of a mixture of red and black fruits
•Pinotage: (South Africa) Similar in terms of body, with even more intense, smokey notes.

 Taste: A broad, exotic array of fruits from stone (overripe nectarine), to red (raspberry, sour cherry), to blue (plum, blueberry), to black (blackberry, boysenberry), Asian 5 Spice Powder, Sweet Tobacco
 Style: Medium-bodied to full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) is a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Croatia. Wines are fruit-forward and spicy with a medium length finish. Zinfandel is a red grape that may be better known in its pink variation, White Zinfandel.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, cured meat, lamb, beef, barbecue, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, full-flavored like cheddar and firm cheeses such as Manchego
Great Alternatives to Zinfandel
•Grenache: More middle-weight and red-fruited flavors, with the meaty and peppery qualities you get with Syrah
•Tempranillo: (Spain) Tempranillo has more savory cherry notes, as well as lower alcohol and body. 
•GSM / Rhône Blend: This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre originally from Rhône Valley of France. It’s very similar in terms of taste, but not usually as fruity!
•Carignan: This wine doesn’t have the cinnamon-spice that Zinfandel often exudes. Expect more candied cranberry notes and sometimes a funky, meaty note.

Pinot Noir
“Pee-no Nwar”
 Taste: Very red fruited (cherry, cranberry) and red-floral (rose), often with appealing vegetal notes of beet, rhubarb, or mushroom
 Style: Lighter-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Pinot Noir is a dry, light-bodied red that was first widely planted in France. The wines typically have higher acidity and soft a soft, smooth, low-tannin finish. 
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, veal, duck, cured meat, French, German, cream sauces, soft cheeses, nutty medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère

Great Alternatives to Pinot Noir
•Gamay: Lighter, juicier, more floral, with subtle herbal notes on the finish. Look for wines labeled “Beaujolais” from France.
•Schiava: (Italy) A rare find from Trentino-Alto Adige with candied cherry, rose hip, and allspice notes.

 Taste: Yellow citrus (Meyer lemon), yellow pomaceous fruits (like yellow pear and apple), tropical fruits (banana, pineapple), and often a touch of butterscotch, vanilla or toasted caramel notes from oak
 Style: Medium- to Full-Bodied White Wine.
 Description: Chardonnay is a dry full-bodied white wine that was planted in large quantities for the first time in France. When oak-aged, Chardonnay will have spicy, bourbon-y notes. Unoaked wines are lighter and zesty with apple and citrus flavors. Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy.
 Food Pairing: lobster, crab, shrimp, chicken, pork, mushroom, French, cream sauces, soft cheeses such as triple cream brie, medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère

Great Alternatives to Chardonnay
•Sémillon: More middle weight, although often with oak as well, more citrus and herbal aromatics
•Viognier: Often richer in body, with lots of perfumed, floral-driven aromatics when oaked. Unoaked Viognier are lighter and more zesty.

Sauvignon Blanc
“Saw-vin-yawn Blonk”
 Taste: Aggressively-citrus-driven (grapefruit pith), with some exotic fruits (honeydew melon, passion frUit, kiwi) and always an herbaceous quality (grass, mint, green pepper)
 Style: Light- to Medium-Bodied White Wine
 Description: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white grape first widely planted in France. Wines are tart, typically with herbal, “green” fruit flavors. 
 Food Pairing: fish, chicken, pork, veal, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, herb-crusted goat cheese, nutty cheeses such as Gruyère

Great Alternatives to Sauvignon Blanc
•Vermentino: from Italy is less herbaceous, but with more appealing, bitter flavors (bitter almond)
•Verdejo: from Spain is almost identical, although sometimes fuller in body
•Grüner Veltliner: from Austria has more savory vegetable notes (arugula, turnip, white pepper)

Pinot Gris
“Pee-no Gree” (aka Pinot Grigio)
 Taste: Delicate citrus (lime water, orange zest)  and pomaceous fruits (apple skin, pear sauce), white floral notes, and cheese rind (from lees usage)
 Style: Light-Bodied White Wine
 Description: Pinot Gris is a dry light-bodied white grape that is planted heavily in Italy, but also in France and Germany. Wines are light to middle-weight and easy drinking, often with some bitter flavor on the palate (bitter almond, quinine)
 Food Pairing: Salad, delicate poached fish, light and mild cheeses

Great Alternatives to Pinot Gris
•Albariño: from Spain is similar, but has more acid and more citrus-driven aromatics (tangerine, orange juice) and floral aromatics
•Soave: The grape is Garganega, but often more bruised and oxidized apple-y character, still relatively bitter
•Melon: The grape is Melon de Bourgogne, and the wine region is called Muscadet in France. It’s often much higher in acidity, but with heavy lees and relatively neutral flavor

 Taste: Citrus (kefir lime, lemon juice) and stone-fruit (white peach, nectarine) always feature prominently, although there are also usually floral and sweet herbal elements as well.
 Style: Floral and fruit-driven aromatic white that comes in variable sweetness. Some producers choose not to ferment all the grape sugar and therefore make the wine in an “off-dry” style.
 Description: Always very high in acid, when made as a table wine Rieslings can be harmoniously sweet (sweet and sour) or dry (very acidic). The wine is polarizing because some people find dry styles too acidic and sweet styles too cloying, but sweetness is always a wine making decision and not inherent to the grape.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, duck, turkey, cured meat, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, German, washed-rind cheeses and fondue

Great Alternatives to Riesling
•Moscato Less acidic with a much more aggressively floral flavor profile
•Gewürztraminer: richer, with less acid and more broad texture, rose candy and lychee are typical aromatics
•Torrontés: Related to Moscato, but always in a dry style, more full-bodied and bitter
•Chenin Blanc: Also very acidic and made in sweet and dry styles, but much more savory with more apple-y, savory aromatics

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