March 2017 Meeting - A taste of Spring

This month's presentation was given by Peter and Sue who brought wines which reflect the spririt of spring ...

The wines tonight have been selected to provide light drinking for the coming summer. We have bought from two smaller merchants who specialise in the less familiar regions and unfamiliar wines. These merchants buy wines that are often produced in relatively small batches and are therefore not able to supply the quantities that the large retailers need.

The two merchants are:

The Hitchin Wine Company. Their showroom is in the Harkness Rose Nursery in Rosehill. Technically it’s Hitchin although it really adjoins Letchworth. Hitchin Wines are part of a bigger company called Hedley Wright who are based in B. Stortford. They mainly supply hotels, but it’s fun to go to the showroom. And they will often let you taste.

Beveley Bolans. Bev is a one-woman band based in Field Lane in Letchworth. She has a website and often goes to food fairs. She doesn’t have a showroom but does have some unusual and agreeable wines with an emphasis on lesser known Italian wine.

See the FAQ - Places to get wine for contact details.


  1. Pignolletto, Colli d’Imola.

    This wine is ‘frizzante’ rather than sparkling and makes a change from method champenoise’ and its variations. The fizz is produced by the Charmat method. Apparently this involves holding the wine in a pressure vessel for a month at 15C and bottling it at 2.5 atmospheres. We are told that it has an attractive and delicately floral bouquet on the nose and a crisp refreshing flavour. It is suggested that it is a cross between pinot grigio and prosecco in style. It comes from the Colli Imola and which rises from the Po valley to the town of Imola. The soil is clay and loam. The grape variety is pignolletto which is used to produce both still and sparkling wines., Bev Bollons Wines.
  2. Giesen Small Batch sauvignon blanc 2014, Marlborough New Zealand.

    This is a small vineyard on the north-west tip of South island. The company was founded by two German brothers who have built up operations throughout the Marlborough region. They make a variety of wines and cider, but this one is a bit special because the grapes are specially harvested late and from specially selected grapes to produce an intensely flavoured sauvignon. It is described as ‘how NZ sauvignon used to taste before it became mass-market. Hitchin Wine Company.
  3. Adega de Pegoes 2015, Peninsula de Setubal, Portugal.

    If you understand the lingo, you will detect waxy aromas of orange blossom followed by a rich and opulent flavour, creamy and elegant. The wine area is south east of the Tagus on the Peninsular de Setubal. The soil is sandy which gives a particular character to the wine. The grapes used are chardonnay, verdelho and two local grapes, arinto and antao vax in equal proportions. ABV 13% Bev Bollons wines.
  4. Rose Massaya 2015, Ghosn, Brunier & Hebrard, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

    Most people shrink at the thought of rose. Somehow it lacks the balance of acidity and fruit one looks for in a good white wine and lacks the complexity and body of reds. This one is a bit different. First it’s Lebanese. When one thinks Lebanon and wine one thinks of Chateau Ksara in the Bekaa Valley (where all the terrorists live). The wine industry was founded by the French during their League of Nations mandate and there is a number of lesser known vineyards. This one is Ghosn, Brunier & Hebrard. Brunier is an old wine growing family from Chateauneuf du Pape while the Hebrard came from St Emilion where they owned Chateau Cheval Blanc. The Bekaa is expanding strongly as a wine growing region. It had only 5 vineyards in 1990 and now has over 30.  The wine is made principally from Syrah with some Cinsault. It is described as having a gorgeous strawberry colour with aromas of berry fruits and subtle spice. It goes with paella made with chicken and rabbit and should be drunk within two years. Hitchin Wine Company Hedley Wright.
  5. Carmen Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Valle de Colchagua, Chile.

    You are supposed to detect notes of fruitcake and earthy spice (does that mean well-rotted compost heap?) on the palate from this restrained wine (i.e. all the bits have been filtered out twice) with a long finish. They say it has great concentration and personality. The cabernet sauvignon is vibrant and penetrating with fine grained tannins that are firm but silky in texture leading to balance and finesse in the finish. Words fail us (but didn’t, apparently, fail the author of this guff). It does, however, taste remarkably like red wine. Hope you like it.
  6. Baglio Gibellina u Passimiento, 2015, Sicily.

    When we went first to Sicily in the late 1970s the wine was really bad. We think feet washing hadn’t arrived. The reds tasted like ink and the whites did a good impression of doubling as kettle descaler. How things have changed. This wine is made from nero d’avola and frapatto grapes. Nero d’avola is the ancient grape of Sicily and dates from classical times. Sorry it’s in a bottle rather than the traditional amphora. 20% of the wine is from the late harvested nero d’avola grapes which are dried and raisiny, the rest from frappato grapes. Apparently the nero d’avola grapes are expensive to produce which restricts the mix to 20% and pushes the price up beyond other Sicilian wines, but we thought they made the wine rich and fruity. Hitchin Wines. They have it on offer at the moment with 55p off.