Monday, 18 October 2021

 A very Warm Welcome

Welcome Back to Members

The Freeland Wine Club’s second night back in the village hall after lock down was a very welcome occasion in more than one way. Firstly, it was a welcome back to the members, to the first formal session for almost two years and we made the most of it, with around 45 members turning up; it seemed that however many tables were put out there were never enough!

Secondly, it was welcome to the new committee! After years of stalwart service, Bruce and Chris have stood down as the lynch-pins of the club which now has a more formal structure and a committee. Thank you both, Chris and Bruce, as the founding fathers of the club, your years of service and dedication have been truly admirable and very much appreciated. And let us not forget Marge and Doreen, the unsung behind-the-scenes heroes without whom the club would not have operated as smoothly as it has.

Welcome Back to Toby

It was also welcome back to Toby Chiles - another stalwart of the club. Toby has hosted 5 wine tastings for the club, including one by Zoom. As is obvious from his numerous visits to the club, Toby is one of our favourite hosts. He has worked for Banbury based wholesaler S H Jones since 2007 and has a Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London. He also works for Wine Unearthed a company that runs wine tasting sessions across the country. Toby hosts a comprehensive 5-hour wine experience (with a three-course lunch) for Wine Unearthed on one Saturday each month. Toby did not let us down and his event for the wine club was yet another creative and fascinating evening learning about the delights of wine.

An Evening of Three Parts

The evening was divided into three tasting rounds, each with three different wines. This was a treat; we normally taste between 5 and 6 in an evening. The wines Toby introduced are listed at the end of the blog.

The first wines were all Rieslings and all from the same producer. The aim was to see how versatile grape varieties can be and how they can be used to make different styles of wine. The second collection were all Malbecs from different countries (Chile, France and South Africa). The aim was to see how wines differ when they come from different origins. The third were all Sangiovese from Italy, but with different prices (£6, £14, £37), the price being a proxy for the quality of the wine.

In each round the wines were tasted blind and members encouraged to discuss them. As a result, there was much discussion, debate, banter and laughter, the latter especially as the evening drew on and the wine flowed.

Members were amazed after the first round at how different a varietal wine could be. (I recommend that people experiment with a range of different sauvignon blanc. That is another wine that can be amazingly variable). Most people seemed to think that there was a much smaller difference between the Malbec wines. Malbec does tend to be a consistent grape, with notable differences resulting when wine makers do something creative with it, for example fortifying with brandy or adding coffee. The general conclusion with the Sangiovese was that price is no guide to what you might like in a wine. Indeed, a number of members popped off to Lidl the next day to bought the cheapest of the three. It would be interesting to know if any popped out to buy the most expensive.

Say Cheese

As usual a fine selection of cheeses was provided with the wines. This time we were also treated to charcuterie with some of the wines.

With the Riesling wines:

Le Roulé. A soft French cheese with garlic and herbs.

Reserve Gruyère. From a small Swiss diary that is matured for a minimum of 10 months.

With the Malbec wines

Traditional Air-dried Salami from France

Spicy Spanish Chorizo

Red Leicester (Vintage Red Fox) from Shropshire. Matured for a minimum of 18 months.

With the Sangiovese wines:

Manchego. A full-fat, hard cheese made with sheep's milk matured for a minimum of 9 months, from the La Mancha region of Spain.

Parmigiano Reggiano. A rich, distinctive hard cheese from Italy that is matured for a minimum of 30 months.

And Finally

All in all, the event was yet another most enjoyable evening. Thanks to Toby for being such an excellent host (yet again) and to the members for their thoughtful and enthusiastic involvement.

Finally, the committee would like to thank members for helping to tidy up after the evening, it was very much appreciated.

The Wine List

ROUND 1 – STYLE: German Riesling

Mathy Schanz Riesling Classic (Dry) circa £10

Mathy Schanz Auslese (Medium sweet) circa £10

Mathy Schanz Sekt (Sparkling) circa £12

German Riesling Wines


Chateau Bur Lagardette Cahors, France, M&S £12.99

Emiliana Adobe, Chile,, £8.50

Gabb Family Vineyard Malbec, South Africa, Majestic, £11.99

The Malbec Wines

ROUND 3 PRICE: Italian Savgiovese

Geografico Brunello di Montalcino 2016 £29 - £45

Chianti Classico Villa Cafaggio 2019 Waitrose £10.99 - £13.99

Corte alle Mura Chianti Riserva 2016 Lidl £6

The Savgiovese Wines

Photographs all Copyright Bruce Hamersley 2021