October 2014 Meeting - Wine Society Winners

Teresa hosted the meeting, Kim unfortunately couldn't make it on the night. The subject was on Wine Society Champions - Blind Tasting Winners 2014 See extensive tasting notes below...


Once a year, the members of The Society's buying team get together to taste each other's selections blind, allowing no room for prejudice or preconception, and enabling them to focus purely on what's inside the bottle. This mammoth exercise, conceived 14 years ago, aims to pinpoint, objectively and honestly, bottles that have made the transition from merely evolving to positively flourishing and which are delicious to drink now. The 2014 Wine Champions, whittled down from a record 647 wines, were unveiled in June. We have chosen just six.





% Alc




Cheverny, Domaine Du Salvard 2013 (France)

Sauvignon Blanc with a little Chardonnay





The Society's Chilean Chardonnay, Limarí (Chile)






Falanghina Del Sannio, Janare 2013 (Italy)






Beaujolais-Villages, Château de Lacarelle 2013 (France)






Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, Torre del Falasco 2012 (Italy)

Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Corvinone





Château Tour Saint Bonnet, Médoc 2009 (France)

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot








Emmanuel is only the third generation of the Delaille family to produce wine but, with his brother Thierry on the marketing side, has become a great ambassador for the small appellation of Cheverny, a thoroughly rural backwater a little east of Blois, north east of the Loire. The appellation determines a blend of majority sauvignon blanc with a little chardonnay but the Delaille's wine style is zingingly fresh sauvignon to drink on its own or with simply grilled fish. A serial Wine Championship winner most recently this vintage in 2014.

Suggested Food Match

Herring; Camembert; Feta;

Domaine du Salvard

This is a small family estate close to the famous Loire valley châteaux of Chenonceaux, Chambord and Cheverny, the last of which gives its name to a gem among the Loire’s 60 wine appellations. The Delaille family at Domaine du Salvard produce some of Cheverny’s best wines.

Maurice Delaille bought this property in 1900, replanting the vineyards and modernising the estate, and it has since passed through five generations of the family. It is currently run by brothers Emmanuel and Thierry, who manage winemaking and marketing respectively, and who have both become great ambassadors for Cheverny.

The Cheverny appellation is a thoroughly rural spot a little east of Blois, with its vineyards scattered around the village of the same name, and its wines are required to be a blend dominated by sauvignon blanc with some chardonnay. Since Maurice’s day, the vineyards have expanded from 10 to 42 hectares, 90% of which are sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, with a small amount of pinot noir and gamay for the domaine’s red wine production.

Domaine du Salvard’s vines are planted on hillsides of flint, clay and quartz silt soils and have an average age of 20 years



Limarí is fast becoming the pre-eminent region for chardonnay in Chile. A break in the coastal mountain range to the northwest of the valley results in a very strong cooling influence from the 14ºC Pacific Ocean for vineyards planted about 25 km from the coast. This cool climate, with rainfall of just 100mm per year, little or no frost risk and some soils containing limestone produce a mineral style of chardonnay which ages well. This crisp, refreshing chardonnay was made for us by Concha y Toro and their winemakers Marcelo Papa and Ignacio Recabarren. It was aged on its lees to develop good mid palate weight with a small portion, about 10%, fermented and matured in barrels, to contribute a little roundness without masking its bright, crystalline flavour.

This wine was voted a 2013 Wine Champion at our annual blind tasting competition to find the best of The Society's range for drinking now.

Suggested Food Match

Lobster; Sea Bass; Roast Chicken;

Concha Y Toro

Concha y Toro is the Penfolds of Chile, simultaneously producing some of Chile’s greatest wines in limited quantities (Don Melchor, Carmín de Peumo, Amelia, Maycas del Limarí Quebrada Seca Chardonnay, etc.) as well as large volumes of high-quality brands such as Casillero del Diablo.

Based at Pirque in the Santiago region, it is Chile’s largest vineyard owner, with over 6000 hectares of vineyards spread throughout the country’s many wine-producing regions. The company also buys in grapes of a similar quantity to that produced in its own vineyards. The diversity of soil types, climates, aspect and altitude has enabled the company to develop an impressive repertoire of grape varieties, each of which is sourced from vineyards best suited to its needs.

Concha y Toro has expanded almost beyond recognition from its humble beginnings in 1883, when liberal politician Don Melchor de Concha y Toro and his wife Doña Emiliana cultivated their first vineyards from Bordeaux vine cuttings. After Don Melchor died, his son took over, and the 1930s saw the company’s first exports – to the Dutch port of Rotterdam.

In the 1950s, the Guilisasti family came on board, eventually taking over the majority share of the company in 1961. Under its direction, Concha y Toro gradually established its name through value-for-money, well-made varietal wines.

From the end of the 1980s onwards, Concha y Toro led the way in boosting Chile’s export profile. A large part of their success was down to the development of a number of big wine brands, including the joint-venture Almaviva winery in collaboration with Mouton-Rothschild, launched in 1997. More recently, the company purchased vineyards in California in 2011, proving that it certainly hasn’t lost its thirst for new and exciting projects.

Concha y Toro has continued to develop and modernise over the past few decades and, with vineyard holdings from Limarí in the north to Bío Bío in the south, it is well placed to do so. Winemakers Marcelo Papa (responsible for Casillero del Diablo, Marqués de Casa Concha and Maycas del Limarí) and Ignacio Recabarren (responsible for Trio, Terrunyo, Amelia and Carmín de Peumo) have spearheaded an impressive rise in quality. Their winemaking skills and the great vineyard resources of Concha combine to make some of Chile’s best wines.



La Guardiense is a co-operative at Guardia Sanframondi near Benevento in Campania. Founded in 1960, it now has 1000 members with 2000 hectares in the 40km long valley and slopes round La Guardia. They always owned good vineyards, growing 95% of the world's falanghina, but revolutionised their winemaking and cellarage in 2006 with the arrival of the oenologist Riccardo Cottarella, who left Feudi San Gregorio to join them. They sell in bulk to other merchants but we buy their top wines which they bottle themselves. 2013 was a difficult year for reds (very wet summer) in Campania but no problem for whites and falanghina is very good.

Suggested Food Match

Sole; Spaghetti Puttanesca; Spanish Chicken Salad;

La Guardiense Co-Op (Janare)

In 1960, a group of 33 winemakers in Italy’s central Campania region decided to join together and create a co-operative, and La Guardiense was born. Today, the company has around 1,000 members, who farm over 1500 hectares of vineyards between them along the 40km length of valley and slopes around La Guardia, near Benevento.

This area is part of Sannio, a sub region in the north of Campania, which was named after the Samnites, a pre-Roman people whose wines were mentioned favourably by ancient philosophers such as Cato and Horace. The hillside vineyards here produce the best grapes as they avoid extremes of hot and cold temperatures throughout the year.

The growers supply many local Campanian producers with bulk wine, but it is the co-op’s Janare range of wines that is its greatest achievement. Janare – a local word for a friendly witch, and a nod to the region’s famous history of alleged witchcraft – is a range produced and bottled by the co-op itself. It focusses on native grape varieties ideally suited to the region’s volcanic soils, such as falanghina (in fact, the co-op cultivates the vast majority of the world’s falanghina vines), fiano, greco and aglianico. The grapes for the Janare brand are sourced from specific vineyard sites – the range’s Lucchero Aglianico is even a single-vineyard wine – which imparts a more concentrated character.

The company’s winery boasts much modern technology, including a fantastic and unique solar power system. Since 2006, the winery has undergone a revolution in quality and innovation, thanks to the company’s decision to employ Riccardo Cotarella, one of Italy’s most famous and well-respected oenologists, and the recipient of several winemaker awards. His influence and experience has transformed the co-op into one of the most important in southern Italy




“sappy and flavoursome with ripe and well-rounded tannins, with a refreshing, mouth-watering palate”.

Château de Lacarelle is an outstanding estate in Beaujolais with a history spanning over 250 years. 2013 is clearly the best vintage since 2009, and is lovely to drink now.

In most vintages, we use wines from this estate to make our blend of fhe Society's Beaujolais-Villages and have done so for many years. Pure Lacarelle in a great vintage, however, is something else: full of charm and round, fleshy textures, it is a real delight that can be opened and relished relatively early.

Suggested Food Match

Chicken Liver Salad; Sausages; Beef Carpaccio;

Château de Lacarelle

One of the oldest properties in Beaujolais, Château de Lacarelle is an outstanding estate with a history spanning over 250 years. The Durieu de Lacarelle family bought it in 1750 and had the good business sense to create a Paris-based company to sell the wines. Since then, the estate has passed from father to son, each generation inheriting the winemaking passion of the last.

At 150 hectares, the estate is large for the region, and much of the land is in the hands of ten trusted families of sharecropping tenants, known in French as métayage. The vines have an average age of almost 60 years, and are planted on the granitic soil that is typical of the northern half of Beaujolais, with a nearby flock of sheep providing the estate’s natural fertiliser.

The vines here are among the first to ripen. This enables the family to produce Beaujolais in a soft, round style, and is also the reason that – in The Society’s opinion – this property’s Beaujolais Nouveau was simply the best. They are also close to the Dépagneux family, so it is not surprising that wine from this property often forms part of The Society’s Beaujolais Villages blend, and has done for many years.

The talented Louis Durieu de Lacarelle took ran the estate from 1969 until his death in 2013 at the age of 88. He felt passionately that Beaujolais should be properly made in a way that the wine could be enjoyed young without having to be kept. To this end he applied all his skills as an enologist at a time when the status of winemaker barely existed. He was in so many ways very much ahead of his time.




Our tasters had to pause simply to take in this wine's length of flavour during our 2014 Wine Champions blind tastings. A deliciously intense and full-blooded 'baby Amarone' with ravishing ripe-fruit character and gorgeous, persistent notes of fig and raisin. A fine match for hearty grills and cheeses. An International Wine Challenge 2014 gold-medal winner.

Suggested Food Match

Barbecues; Pizza; Beef kebab;

Cantina Valpantena

It is believed by some that the Valpantena Valley gets its name from the Roman pantheon, and indeed it is thought that the Romans were some of the first to plant vines here. Situated to the north-east of Verona, this valley, which benefits from cooling breezes from the nearby Dolomites, is the same valley from which we source the grapes for The Society’s Pinot Grigio, but the region is better known for its excellent red wines.

Cantina Valpantena was formed here in 1958. Today the company has 300 members cultivating over 600 hectares of vines, from appellations all over the Verona hillsides, and the co-op is judged by many to be one of the best in Italy. A further 150 growers produce olive oil.

Cantina Valpantena uses mostly corvina veronese, rondinella and corvinone for its red wines, as well as garganega and trebbiano di lugana (identical to the verdicchio grape) for its whites. The company’s winery is, as you might expect, well equipped with modern technology. A wide range of wines are created here – from everyday reds like Valpolicella, to sweet whites like recioto and passito, and premium reds like Amarone. Its best range of wines is Torre del Falasco, especially the Torre del Falasco Ripasso, which provides Amarone style at a fraction of the price thanks to a second fermentation while in contact with Amarone wine lees.




Classic cedary claret, buoyed by the exta depth of fruit of the brilliant 2009 vintage and some delicious toasty oak. Its high scores in our 2014 Wine Champions blind tastings matched those of several top critics, and the revelation of its sub-£15 price tag made its triumph all the more pleasing.

Suggested Food Match

Roast Lamb; Roast Veal; Boiled Beef;

Based in Saint-Christoly in the north of the Médoc region, the cru bourgeois property, Chateau Tour Saint Bonnet, is the largest in the village, and has been in the hands of the Lafon family since 1903.

There are 40 hectares under vine, with an average age of 35 years, which lie on the best gravel soils. The plantings comprise 45% each of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, 5% petit verdot and 5% malbec.

The wines are fermented in traditional cement tanks. Winemaker Jacques Merlet bucks the trend of ageing wine in small oak barriques, and opts instead to age the wine for 18 months in larger oak foudres, which impart more subtle oak character to the wine.

This is an archetypal Médoc with plenty of firm flavour and a crispness that can almost be called refreshing. It has consistently represented good value for money, and will age well for between four to 10 years.