Our 2014 Tastings


We have established a tradition to taste a selection of “Fine wines” for our December meeting.  Robin Boar volunteered to provide a selection of wines this year, and we were not disappointed. Thirty two members enjoyed a selection ranging from pink Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtzraminer to robust reds such as   Fleurie, Rioja, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The evening concluded with a delightful dessert wine from the Loire with sweet mini-cakes prepared by Alan and Jean Haigh.


A cruise down the Danube River gave Carolyn Clayton the inspiration to present a selection of wines from countries bordering the river at our November meeting. In all, we tasted eight wines, three white and five red, from Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania. We were also pleased to welcome two new members.


When George Barnes offered a tasting based on the former Ottoman Empire we realised we were likely to sample some rather unusual wines. We were not disappointed, with grape varietals such as Malagousia, Gamza, Kekfrancos, Vranac, and Saperavi, appearing on the bottles. They all proved to be very drinkable, with a Château Ka from the Lebanon the star of the selection.


Our autumn season began with a presentation of carefully selected award-winning wines by a team from Majestic Wines. Thirty of our members were treated to a wonderful range of wines, starting with a delightful fruity sparkler from Chile, followed by an elegant English “Champagne” from Nyetimber. These were followed by a French Viognier, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a very subtle Chardonnay from South Africa.The Reds came in the shape of a French Claret, an Italian Primitivo and a Malbec from Chile. All the wines were accompanied by commentaries by the very knowledgeable team from Majestic, who received warm applause.


Our annual garden party was hosted again by Jean and Alan Haigh, in their lovely garden. A very blustery wind did not manage to spoil the evening, and we survived without rain until 10.00pm. The wines and the wide choice of food were, as always, excellent, so, once again, the end result was another memorable evening. Congratulations and thanks to all concerned with the event.


We had a novel and very entertaining evening at our June meeting, entitled “Tour de France”. Jean and Alan Haigh mixed us up into four separate groups and we found ourselves competing in a blind tasting of eight French wines. Help came in the provision of a list of French wine regions and grape varieties. On tasting each wine, we had to determine the region, the grape and its year, with points gained for each correct answer. Teamwork came into play, with much earnest discussion and at the end of the evening each team had a respectable score, with one team well out in front. It did prove that we have all learned something from our past efforts!


Grapes grown in Portugal and the wine produced from them have some unusual names and rarely occupy Supermarket shelves.  At our May meeting, George Barnes introduced us to 8 of these wines, starting with a full-flavoured sparkler, made from Maria Gomes grapes.  Seven other wines followed, all from different regions of Portugal and generally featuring wines we had not tasted before.  An interesting, educational evening, illustrating the incredible wide range of wines now available to us from so many parts of the world.


Following his selection of single grape wines at the January meeting, John Raines led us through his choice of non-European single grape wines at our April meeting. We started with an excellent Pinot Grigio from New Zealand, followed by a nondescript Hungarian Sauvignon Blanc, deliberately included as a joker in the pack. Then the reds: a Pinot Noir from New Zealand, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, then a Shiraz from S.E. Australia. A return to Chile came as a Carmenere and a Malbec. Overall the Chilean wines proved to be very good value in terms of both quality and price. Should you fancy tasting a selection of wines at a cost of just £8.00 or so, you are welcome to come to one of our meetings. We are a very friendly bunch, just let one of our contacts below know in advance.


Our March meeting saw a return to a popular formula, a members’ choice evening. We started with an excellent Cava followed by a Pinot Gris from New Zealand and a Fiano from Sicily. Moving on to the reds we enjoyed a selection which started with a Burgundy from France and moved on to wines from Italy, Spain, Portugal and South Africa. To accompany the wines George and Ellen Barnes provided cheese and biscuits. As usual, the high level of conversation indicated another instructive and enjoyable evening.


At our meeting on the 7th February Roy Tosh introduced a selection of wines from Majestic Wines. All had been bought at a discount and were consistently of high quality and represented good value. Roy called on his background as a geographer to explain the effect of location and geology on the nature of the wines, which coupled with his thorough knowledge of the wines themselves, made for an excellent and informative evening.


We got off to an early start in the New Year holding our first meeting on Friday 3 January. John Raines had promised us a “Back to Basics” evening, featuring a selection of wines produced from single grape varieties. He pointed out how difficult it was to find a definitive basic wine because of the world-wide production of wines and the diverse methods of production. To emphasise this he led us through a blind tasting of nine single grape wines, and helped us by providing a listing of grape varieties grown either on an international or regional basis. This helped us in achieving a modest degree of success in identifying the wines. A selection of snacks and olives to accompany the wines helped to make it an educational and enjoyable start to our New Year.

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