September 2010 Meeting - Oaks and Tannins

The autumn season got underway in September when Julie Bolter used the theme of "Oaks and Tannins" to challenge our taste buds. Twenty-one members attended this entertaining and educational tasting that was held in our new venue – the Mrs Howard Memorial Hall...

The Wines


Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 75cl (£9.99)

Country : Italy; Grape : Prosecco; ABV : 11.5%

The beautiful Valdobbiadene region in the hills above Treviso is home to one of the world's most popular sparkling wines and the Bisol family are masters of the genre.

Bisol is one of the very few houses that integrate the entire production process, ensuring quality in every phase, from the selection of the terrain, to growing and hand picking the grapes in vineyards on steep slopes, to the bottling of the wine.

Aromas of wildflowers are balanced on the palate by notes of pear, and a refreshingly crisp acidity, in this sparkling wine.

The great thing about prosecco is that it doesn’t try to ape champagne; it’s made in a different way using different grapes, and it’s all about lightness of touch and frivolity. Bisol have been making it for five generations and know what they’re about. Deliciously light and crisp on its own, it’s great with fresh white peach juice as a classic Bellini; or in a Jo-Jo (with fresh strawberry juice) or Mimosa (fresh orange juice); or a Negroni Sbagliato, with Campari and red vermouth. Johnny Ray - The Telegraph 14/08/2010

Sainsbury's Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine (2009) 75cl

Country : France; Grape : Muscadet; ABV : 12%

This is a consistently good wine from a longstanding Sainsbury's supplier. The 2009 vintage has plenty of classic savoury Muscadet character and a clean lemony finish. Great for seafood.

A crisp wine with fresh apple, melon and citrus flavours underlined by a mineral finish. Domaine Jean Douillard makes this delicious and versatile dry white using Muscadet grapes grown on the finest slopes of the Western Loire. Cool fermented and left to mature on its lees until bottling to develop a subtle refreshing spritz.

Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc (2009) (Tesco)

Country : South Africa; Grape: Chenin Blanc; ABV : 13%

Ken Forrester arguably makes the world’s best Chenin Blanc wines. This enchanting reserve wine shows ripe melon flavours with hints of honeysuckle and has a beautifully refreshing, long lingering aftertaste.

Ken Forrester bought the derelict wine farm with his wife Teresa in 1993 and began transforming the vineyards with his friend Martin Meinert. They were both determined and motivated to produce a wine that could out rival any white wine in the world. Since Ken Forrester bought the wine farm in 1993, production has soared and Ken has established quite a name for himself as ‘Mr Chenin Blanc’, due to his work with South Africa's most widely planted variety.

Nestled in the valley below the Helderberg mountains in Stellenbosch, South Africa, is the ‘Scholtzenhof 1689’ wine farm which is home to the Ken Forrester family. The site is positioned on duplex soils, mountainous terrain and welcomes a Mediterranean climate. Ken Forrester himself is an ex restaurateur and currently owns a restaurant 96 winery Rd which is a national top 10.

2009 is among the Cape’s greates, ditto Forrester’s Chenins, so this delicious spiced-apple off dry summer white is a must. The white apple aromas are followed by a combination of subtle honey and pear flavours with a lengthy finish. Jane MacQuitty - The Times 24/07/2010

Sainsbury's Cotes Du Rhone Villages, Taste The Difference (2009)

Country : France; Grape : Grenache, Syrah & 15% Native varieties; ABV : 14.5%

This elegant Southern Rhone wine is a blend of spicy Syrah and ripe Grenache. A full-flavoured, generous and well-structured fruity red, it has a rich peppery palate and soft velvety tannins. Celebrated Cotes du Rhone Villages winemaker Michel Chapoutier chooses grapes grown in villages farmed for their quality to create this vibrantly fruity, full-flavoured wine that really captures the essence of this region’s great reds. There's plenty of body in this wine to support big, savoury red meat dishes and hearty casseroles.

Waitrose Reserve Shiraz, St Hallett (2008) Barossa Valley

Country : Australia; Grape : Shiraz; ABV : 14.5%

This is a vibrant and rich red made from 100% Shiraz grapes by Waitrose in partnership with Barossa Valley winery St Hallett. It has ripe red and black fruit flavours, hints of spice and a smooth chocolately, oaky finish.

The first vineyards in the Barossa were planted by German settlers in 1842. Since then, the Barossa has become one of Australia’s premium wine regions, renowned for its bold, elegant and beautiful Shiraz.

Waitrose have partnered with the St Hallett team because of their reputation for crafting premium Barossa Shiraz. This wine has been made by blending select parcels of fruit from different sub regions of the Barossa, including the Western and Northern ridges - for flavour and richness - and Barossa’s Eden Valley for complexity and structure.

Key zones within these regions also add to the complex tapestry of meso- climates and soils, resulting in a wine expressive of the unique attributes each sub region brings to the final wine.

"...worth splashing out on. Rich, smooth, blackcurranty with hints of spice and chocolate, it's one to savour at a barbecue." Tim Curran, The Daily Mirror, 5 June 2010 (2008 vintage)

Barolo Ascheri Rocca Ripalta (2005) (Tesco)

Country : Italy; Grape : Nebbiolo; ABV : 14%

Brilliant garnet red colour. Deeply scented bouquet. Rich, ripe taste; tannic impressive and well balanced. The wine was aged for two years in oak barrels to add complexity spicy character and a hint of vanilla.This wine can be drunk now but will further improve if carefully stored for up to 5 years

Matteo’s knowledge and passion for the region in which he has lived for his whole life is an inspiration. His ethos is clear; it is the expression of the vineyard, the grape and the climate that he is capturing. Ascheri’s wines are consistently excellent, and it is worth noting his Barbera Vigna Fontanelle, Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Nirane and the Arneis (similar to Pinot Blanc) from the Roero hills are all drinking superbly, and provide a good introduction to his style.

Bra where the winery is conveniently located has good connections with Turin and is the most important wine market in the region due to the presence of the Royal House of Savoy. Ascheri’s winemaking philosophy consists of simple but most important principles – to keep yields low, and strive to reflect the terroir through the variety of grape like the Nebbiolo for Barolo.