Our 2013 Tastings


Our December meetings always feature fine wines as a Christmas treat. This year George Barnes gave us an extra special selection starting with a superb Bollinger Special Cuvée Champagne. Further delights followed in the shape of white and red Burgundies, a Vin de Pays De L’Hérault from France, a regional wine from Portugal, then an unusual blend of Grenache, Matara and Shiraz from Australia. A 2005 Château Musar from the Lebanon was a first time tasting for the group and it lived up to its established reputation for excellence. The memorable evening finally concluded with a traditional Port. During the evening, the wines were accompanied by a selection of very tasty snacks prepared by George’s wife Ellen, so we had a truly great double act.


Robin Boar gave us an insight into the complexities governing the production and marketing of Rioja wines at our November meeting. He explained how, in recent years, the introduction of modern production methods, alongside the traditional ones, had resulted in a wider range of the wines and gave us a selection of wines so that we could compare them. We tasted one white and seven red Riojas in all. It was an interesting exercise and gave us the chance to taste some excellent wines.


Remarkably, the Group’s October meeting, featuring an unplanned choice of eight wines by members, yet again resulted in eight different wines. Featured were three Italian, two French, two South African and one Portuguese. All enjoyed by the twenty-eight members present, with a wine from Sicily coming in ahead of the others. Tasty snacks prepared by Jean Haigh and Anne Mansey admirably complemented the wines.


Our autumn season began with a large turnout of members, thirty four in all, to enjoy a unique tasting presented by Tony Mansey. Tony had chosen eight wines from around the world, some of which were award winners. We had to judge the wines by their colour, clarity, bouquet and palate and decide on the country of origin. Then a decision had to be made on whether the wine had received a bronze, silver or gold award. The result - a very loud buzz of conversation, with some members actually reaching the right conclusion on some of the wines. Overall an excellent evening, enjoyed by all present.


Our June meeting was led by Carolyn Clayton who had chosen three white and five red wines from the Languedoc region of France. Her objective was to lead us through her selection of wines so that we could decide whether the region deserved an historical reputation for mediocre wines. We started with a Blanquette de Limoux made from the Mauzac grape. A nice fizz for a summer’s evening. This was followed by a Picpoul de Pinet and a Viognier. All very acceptable. The reds on the other hand were a mixed bunch, the well known Minervois and Fitou were fine, but the Corbières and a Cabardès not highly rated. So the lesson was choose with care! Overall a very fascinating and instructive evening.


This meeting featured a parallel tasting of 3 wines from different regions of France with the theme 'Do you get what you pay for?' The star of the selection was a Waitrose Claret, with the Wine Society also doing well.  So a very interesting evening did tend to prove that yes, you do get what you pay for.


Robin Boar gave us a wonderful selection of wines based on the theme of Desert Island Discs.  In this case we sampled wines he would have taken with him if he were to be abandoned on a desert island.


The tasting was conceived by John Wilburn and took us on  another visit to Italy. John produced a very informative map of the major wine producing areas and presented an eclectic variety of Italian wines from fresh whites to full flavoured reds.


A very cold February evening did not deter a large majority of the group turning out to sample George Barnes' selection of the lesser well known Grape Varietals. George did not disappoint us, and as he pointed out, there are hundreds of varietals worldwide so we may find time at a future date to try a few more.


The very well attended January meeting featured wines from Argentina. John Raines had managed to find eight different wines including Argentina’s famous Malbec. He started the evening with background information about the country itself and the specific wine production areas such as Mendoza. Mention was also made about the large scale of wine production which plays an important role in Argentina’s economy. The first tasting was a Pinot Grigio, which proved to be more than a challenge to the usual Italian sourced varieties. This was followed by the relatively unique Torrontés, which Argentina claims as its own grape. Six reds followed and featured Merlot, Shiraz, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec wines. Overall the meeting gave a comprehensive insight into the range of wines produced in Argentina and was much enjoyed by the members.

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