Our 2017 Tastings


Our annual Fine Wines evening on the 6 December featured a selection of wines chosen by George Barnes and John Raines. A Champagne starter was followed by a Pouilly-Fuissé and a Vouvray. Then came the reds, covering a wide spectrum of fine wines from New Zealand, Spain, France and Italy. All served with snacks, including mince pies with the dessert wine. All in all, an excellent start to the Christmas season for the twenty- seven members who attended.


Our November meeting got off to a flying start with a surprise Champagne celebration of a member’s birthday. This was followed by a very varied selection of M&S wines chosen by John Raines. The tasting focussed on Sicilian wines, but started with an Argentinian White and finished with a powerful Australian Red. All enjoyed by 31 members.


Our October meeting featured a selection of wines from Majestic Wines Stevenage. The Manager, Sam Green, started with a challenge to check whether we could tell the difference between a Champagne and a Cava, both served blind. With 25 people present to make the decision, we automatically got off to a great start to the evening. A further seven stylish wines followed, all with an average price of £10.00. Overall a very enjoyable evening. Having attended a local wine-tasting by Marks and Spencer John Raines has chosen a selection of their wines for the November meeting. The meeting will be held on Friday 3 November at the Settlement Letchworth, commencing at 8.00pm.


After an August break our September meeting had a large turnout of members who tasted a varied selection of wines from Italy and Sicily. George Barnes provided us with maps, with various areas highlighted, to indicate the source of each wine. This resulted in both an enjoyable and instructive evening.
Carolyn Clayton introduced us to a selection of wines sourced from some lesser known Australian vineyards, and details of their history. The first white wine was made from the Verdelho grape, and proved to be very popular with our members. We progressed through two more whites and five reds, the final Grant Burge ‘Benchmark’ being a big, bold Shiraz - the quintessential wine of Australia. Carolyn had promised to take us off the beaten track of ‘Oz’ wines and certainly succeeded in style. 


Pat Bailey’s choice of eight wines from the Wine Society’s Best Sellers and Exhibition Range featured at our May meeting.  A Côtes de Gascogne got us off to an excellent start, followed by a Verdicchio and a Riesling. Then we tasted five red wines from France, Spain, Italy and Argentina. All accompanied by an assortment of cheeses, bread and biscuits.  Overall, an excellent demonstration of the wide choice of modestly priced wines available from the Wine Society.


This evening introduced a range of wines that very few of us had tasted before, with several made from obscure varieties of French grapes.  George Barnes provided a detailed description of the origin of each wine, resulting in a very informative evening enjoyed by all.


Roy Tosh, a member of the Group, has an extensive knowledge of many wine producing areas around the World.  Hence, he gave us in-depth information on each wine he served at our March meeting.  Two whites from France and Spain were extremely popular with our members, and followed by reds from Argentina, Portugal and two areas of France.  A very informative evening overall, enhanced by snacks served by Roy’s wife.


We had a rather unique February meeting with Bernard Bailey serving a selection of wines from the Jura. This is an area running along the borders separating France and Germany from Switzerland, and this was our first chance of tasting wines produced there. We followed Jura convention by tasting lightweight reds followed by whites bursting with flavour and concluding with a superb sweet dessert wine. A truly exceptional evening.


Twenty-six members attended our first meeting of the year in January, with eight of them contributing their choice of wine for the evening. All the wines were modestly priced, but great on value. The tasting started with an excellent white Bacchus from our local Warden Abbey vineyard and continued with a white from Italy, then reds from Germany, Chile, Brazil, Italy, France and Spain. Each was accompanied by a short talk on why it had been chosen, which made for a very interesting meeting.

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