14th February 2024
It has been seven years since we had a night dedicated to English wines and it was long overdue in this age of the resurgence and popularity of the our much-neglected vineyards and especially our sparkling wines. What better day to sample them on Valentine’s day and what better presenter than Guy Smith who grows the grapes in the heart of Somerset at The Smith and Evens Vineyard at Langport.
Guy’s selection was superb and demonstrably showcased the broad range of quality wines on the market including his own award-winning wines. A fascinating, informative and interesting night which found unanimous approval from our members and visitors. Add to that our specially selected English Cheeses provided by our own Sarah-Louise Beasley, and we were left wanting more. We will get him to return.
Here's the wine list :-
Chapel Down Bacchus
Simpsons 'Rabbit Hole'Pinot Noir,Kent 2022
Aldi Own label English Sparkling
Breaky Bottom Seyval Sparkling
Smith and Evans 2018 Sparkling
Langham Sparkling Rose
Smith and Evans Trilogy
It has been a while since we last saw David and Alice Perry, our old friends from Shaftesbury Wines, give a presentation. This evening, they came back with a vengeance and delivered an informative and relaxed presentation of some superb wines to match our festive food samples. As David admitted, it was a difficult task as many of our food samples were crying out for expensive port, sherry and dessert wines etc. and our budget constraints presented this.
Well maybe, but what is not in doubt was that David and Alice chose a delightful quaffable selection that went down exceedingly well with our members. So much so that he was handed our record order of the year so far and we hear that members are popping in his shop to purchase additional supplies. We couldn’t be more pleased.The top sellers were :-
Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvee
Le Blanc from ch de LUSSAC
Colombier by Massaya
Stone, Vine & Sun
Eight Stoney Street - Frome
A new presenter and wine merchant to the Society was Number Eight Stoney Street from Frome who presented for us on the 11th October.
Sarah Helliwell delivered a superb and riveting presentation. To be truthful, it was a breath of fresh air for us to hear someone who manifestly new her subject matter "backed up" by an "in depth" encyclopaedic knowledge, practical “hands on” experience and qualifications to prove it. The feedback was unanimously very positive with many expressions of support for a return visit. That, we will most certainly try and organise.
The wine selection was a hit too and that was reflected in the order from members which, even with our much reduced "turnout", was over 100 bottles.
We did it! We went where the Wessex Wine Society had never been before and supplied "help yourself" boxed wines.to accompany our barbecue. To be fair, there were some nice surprises but we must report that the "juries out" overall. Some thirty of us struck lucky with the weather and on a glorious summer evening we enjoyed the hospitality of Edward and Susan Hoare. A lovely relaxed evening, a lovely setting and lovely food all made for a really memorable night.
We are closed now for the summer but we will return in October for the new season which has already been planned. Watch out on Facebook and our website for updates nearer the date. See you all next season.
Events Reports and Publicity
Last Update 12th January 2023
Vineyards Presentation 8th March 2023 - A night of surprises
Our tasting event with Vineyards on the started with a bit of a last-minute panic as our presenter Tony Schendel tested positive for covid shortly before he was due to give his presentation. We were able to take precautionary measures and warn everyone before they entered the hall. We have quite a few members classed as vulnerable so it was inevitable that our attendance was much reduced.
On the positive side, Tony’s delivery was very good, his comparison of two wines at a time went down very well with members and was a nice change from the normal. We must confess, we felt a bit sorry for him, social distancing at the end of the room and he was not able to mix and discuss. It must have “cramped his style” enormously.
The wine selection had mixed reviews but the most criticism was aimed at the pricing rather than the wine itself because the general consensus was that it was a good selection. Having regard to varietal and country of origin, it was thought a little overpriced and especially some white wines. Well done Tony you made a bad day good and we appreciate it.
Here is the list of the wines presented: -
1- Berthier Coteaux du Giennois, Loire, France
2- Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc, Darling Hills, South Africa
3- Domaine Nudant Hautes Cotes de Nuits, Burgundy, France
4- Groote Post Kapokberg Chardonnay, Darling Hills, South Africa
5- Von Buhl Spatburgunder, Pfalz, Germany
6- The Crusher Pinot Noir, Napa, USA
7- Chateau Unang, Rhone, France
8- Hesketh Grenache, Barossa, Australia
Robert Boutflower from Tanners Wines Ltd has visited us before many years ago to great applause and his earlier return was thwarted by the Covid epidemic. This visit was met with great anticipation and Robert did not disappoint. He came with a splendid collection of Spanish wines, some with familiar names but unusual blends and others that were new to us. We usually expect the wines to split our members into clear demarcation lines between “like” and “don’t like” but not this time. Here the problem was which we liked best! A lovely and unusual selection of good Spanish Wines. As if that was not enough, Robert gave an interesting narrative of the grapes used and details of the growing regions for each of the wines.
Keep checking Facebook for updates.
The featured Cheeses
It may not have escaped our members notice that we have “upped our game” on the cheese available for our tastings. In no small part to the efforts of Sarah-Louise and Peter who take on providing our food supplies each month. A carefully selected variable cheeseboard now supplemented with other nibbles and treats, all aimed at being appropriate to the tasting, it is without doubt making our tasting experience so much enjoyable. This is all part of our endeavours to provide value for money for our members in the face of rising operational costs.
Our latest presentation, given by Giles de Mare, was very well received by members and guests and whose return had been eagerly anticipated by those who knew him back in the day. Giles did not disappoint. He took us through a fascinating anecdotal historical tour of the region explaining how it developed and the people responsible for its rise as a major and premier producer of quality wines. A very interesting and different approach to our normal presentations. We tasted red wines from the Right and Left banks of the Garonne as we progressed, all sourced from different suppliers.
In order to get the full experience of what Bordeaux has to offer, nine wines had been selected by Giles, in collusion with our own Secretary Trevor Knott, at prices ranging from circa £12 up to over £50 a bottle. The feedback was a bit of a surprise in that the reactions were quite mixed, more so than we anticipated. Our Francophiles had no doubt and, with the odd exception, received them enthusiastically but a minority of the attendees gave many of them the “thumbs down”. This is the beauty of wine tasting where your personal passions can be indulged, new wines explored and where “one man’s medicine is another’s poison”. On this occasion however, “the ayes have it, the ayes have it” if I can borrow a phrase from somewhere?
Christmas Wine Pairing
14th December 2022
This event was not held at our usual home venue at Stourhead because our access to the hall was prevented by the spectacular Christmas Light Show going on there over the Christmas period. Instead, we all "decanted" to Silton Village Hall some three miles away.
Wine pairing can be very challenging and subjective at the best of times so against this background, we tasked members to match canape food to eight pre-selected unusual wines rather than the usual method of matching the wine to the food. Thus was the scene set for some very serious head scatching where much relience had to be placed on the tasting notes and labels provided by the suppliers.
For instant feedback our voting paddles were once again utilised to determine an instant majority opinion of both the wine and the pairings. The results were a bit of a suprise in that the overall view was that the wine, generally, did not find much favouir but even so, the pairings worked rather well. To be fair there were a couple of notable exceptions with the wine, the favourite which had to be the Morillon Blanc by Jeff Carrel £16.50, DBM Wines.
Thanks to all those who contributed because this very enjoyable and well received last event of the year would not have happened without you.
The presentation by Amanda Taylor from Southern wines certainly struck favour with our members. Presenting a selection of 8 wines aimed at Christmas , the most popular by far were two very good value wines; the first was an Antiche Terre Soave DOC – Italy and secondly a Familia Otero Ramos Estate Gritos Malbec – Argentina. Of the nearly 100 bottle order Amanda secured from members, these two wines alone accounted for some 58 of the total. A lovely relaxed presentation set the tone for the evening and to ensure we got into the right spirit, in addition to our usual selection of cheeses available during the evening, we even had Christmas cake.
Amanda has advised us that the 10% discount is available for members until Christmas on Southern Wines Website https://southernwines.co.uk
Enter wessex10 at checkout
Mediteranian Island Wines
12th October 2022
Camilla Wood of Somerset Wines hosted a very successful evening featuring Mediterranean Island Wines. Possibly one of the best selections of wine we have had in a long time. It featured many unusual grape varieties, particularly some Greek ones. The members enthusiasm was reflected in a rather large wine order from the Society.