September’s meeting on the 20th of the month saw the first gathering of the Wine Circle since February 2020. The presenter for the evening was Mick Gould with a selection of ‘quirky’ Chilean wines from his shop at Huntley’s Farm Shop.
It was great to have a proper wine circle meeting and we thank Mick for coming to entertain and educate us. We thank Anne Whitehead for preparing the refreshments.
In spite of heavy clouds that threatened rain, about 20 members of the circle gathered in the playing field of St Mary Michael School for a picnic on the 15th August. It was a good opportunity for those attending to meet face to face, and to catch up with news, something that the limitations of zoom meetings did not allow. Fortunately the rain held off, although temperatures were a tad lower that we would have hoped for during the month of August. This was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday Afternoon and reminded us of how much we have missed these social occasions over the past 17 months.
At our November meeting Guy Pugh presented a selection of Argentinian wines. He started by giving us a brief history of the wine industry’s development in Argentina.
The country has been producing wine since the 16th century, and, as with all of the Spanish colonies in the Americas, the process of winemaking was introduced by the monks of the Catholic Church who needed wine for the celebration of Communion.
Much of the wine produced before 1989 was of low quality, and was not exported abroad. Changes in economic policies during that year allowed the industry to develop and subsequently became a major player in the world wine market. It is now the 5th largest producer in the world.
Guy’s selection of two white wines and six reds highlighted the advantages of the industry in Argentina. The combination of old vines with varieties imported from Spain, and newer international grape varieties subsequently brought in by immigrants from Europe, together with good conditions for grape growing have led to a vibrant industry producing quality, well priced wines.
The excellent and interesting selection included wines produced from grape varieties such as Torrentos, Criolla Chica and Bonardo, as well as the more familiar Chardonnay, Reisling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, the latter having become a signature red for the country.
It was an excellent evening with good wines from Guy, and an extremely tasty selection of food provided by Anne Whitehead and Glynnis Jefferson.
The meeting in October was our AGM. The Chairman and Treasurer presented their reports for the 20/21 season. They were able to report a success in keeping the group going using Zoom, and a healthy financial situation that would help with the recovery from the consequences of Covid.
The current committee was re-
Paul Hewitt began proceedings with a white wine, a Solaris, from the Gwynllan vineyard
near Conwy, recently visited by the Circle. This was followed by Alan Jefferson’s
We all had our favourites but it was agreed together they provided an excellent evening’s tasting.
Food was prepared by Jackie Hastings and Glynnis Jefferson.
After much careful preparation and planning the Garstang Wine Circle Christmas Party on 18th December, where the theme was 'Dress for Success’, was enjoyed by everyone able to attend. The wines chosen by Mervyn Stokes and Richard Harrison were selected from The Wine Society's extensive catalogue and were well received.
Everyone enjoyed an excellent buffet consisting of canapés, sausage plait, whole fresh salmon, baked ham with pickled oranges and chutney, salads, red fruit pavlova, tiramisu and a selection of cheeses and mince pies.
The food was prepared by Jackie Hastings, Diana Bell, Richard Harrison, Glynis Jefferson, Anne Marie Whitehead and Debbie Hewitt.
Party ‘games’ included Brian Heaton's fiendish quiz, and a game presented by Frances Whitehead, where everyone suggested a famous person to invite to dinner. Proceedings were accompanied by an audio visual show and music selection prepared by Steve Ridings.
Thanks go to all of those involved in preparing and organising this highly successful event.
At the regular meeting on Monday 17th January, Adam and Liam from the Chapel Street Wine shop in Lancaster, gave a presentation of Italian Wine. The shop, which has only been open for about two years, specialises in wines from small producers. Wines are sourced world wide, but Italian Wine is their specialist field.
We were presented with two whites and four reds. An interesting selection of wines that were well presented, as Adam was knowledgeable about the producers, methods of production and the areas where the wines are produced. Circle members were very grateful to Adam and Liam for a thoroughly entertaining and interesting evening. Thanks also to Glynnis Jefferson for preparing evening’s refreshments.
Circle Member Jennifer McNamee presented a selection of South African wines, obtained from the Wine Society as a mixed case, which consisted of a rosé, three whites and three reds, giving us an opportunity to taste a selection of reasonably priced wines from that country.
The star white was a chenin blanc, made from old vines in an area to the north west of Capetown. Hardly surprising as Chenin Blanc is a signature grape for South Africa and may have been amongst the first grapes planted to produce wine by the Dutch in the late 1600s.
Two of the reds were particularly good, a syrah, which represents how the South African wine industry has successfully used international grape varieties in wine making over the recent years, and a pinotage. The pinotage grape variety was developed in South Africa, and after rejection by the international wine trade for many years, has now found favour with wine drinkers.
We had an interesting and enjoyable evening with good wines and excellent food from Jena and Richard Pearson
After a two year absence, we were delighted to welcome back Stuart Rothwell, from the Vineyard Wineshop in Ramsbottom. Stuart was our guest presenter at the meeting on March 21st, his theme was Portuguese Wine.
Portuguese wine tends not to have a high profile on the shelves of our supermarkets. This is a shame, because it produces some excellent wines in addition to the fortified wine known as ‘Port’. Portuguese winemakers use a number of native grape varieties in the production of their wines, although blends with international varieties are becoming more common.
The selection presented at this meeting comprised of three whites, three reds and a sample of dessert wine. Two of the whites were low in alcohol content, making them especially suitable for warm summer days with perhaps an al fresco lunch in the garden. The third white was made from the Alvarhino grape, better known as Albariño in Spain, with a higher, but not excessive alcohol content. Thinking about that lunch, all of these whites would certainly be good accompanying seafood and chicken dishes.
An excellent selection of reds followed. Once again all of the wines would have been good with food, especially perhaps lamb or beef and even game. Smooth with dark berry flavours, they demonstrated the quality of wine currently being produced in Portugal at present.
The final wine was a Moscatel Setubal, a wonderful sweet desert wine that would provide a wonderful accompaniment to both a dessert and as an alternative to Port with cheese.
Thanks go to Richard and Ann Harrison, and Philippa Caterall for the tasty food to accompany the wines, and to Anne Whitehead for the vote of thanks.
The April meeting took the form of a “Call my Quaff”. Based on the format of “Call my Bluff”, members were invited to guess the grape variety, country of origin and price of each of six wines. The member with the highest score was Rosemary Stokes
A good and fun change from the usual meeting format. Many thanks go to Richard Harrison for the excellent organisation of the evening and to the three members on the panel, Anne Whitehead, Linda Pugh and Frances Whitehead for their witty attempts to convince the members that they were giving the correct information about each of the wines.
Thanks also the Diana and Colin Bell for organising the excellent spread of food for the evening.
The speaker for the May meeting was a return of Lazarus Christodoulou from The Brasserie, a Greek restaurant in Morecambe. Once again he presented a selection of wines from Greece, a country that isn’t well represented at present on the shelves of wineshops or supermarkets in this country. The profile of the Greek wines is beginning to rise however, and we were given the chance to discover why by tasting the two whites, four reds and the dessert wine that he brought to the meeting.
The whites were fresh and light and excellent for accompanying chicken, fish and pasta dishes. The four reds varied, starting with a light bodied red and ending with two heavier bodied wines that could easily accompany red meats and game. The dessert wine was wonderfully light with a flavour of honey, perfect to accompany dessert at the end of a meal.
All of these wines should really be drunk with food, as is the Greek tradition. They certainly demonstrated the quality of wines that are being produced in Greece and that are worth seeking out.
An excellent selection of food was prepared by Debbie and Paul Hewitt and the vote of thanks was given by Jennifer McNamee.
On Sunday 6th June the circle celebrated Her Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee with a picnic. Sadly the sunny summer day we had hoped for was not to be, and we had to retreat from the cold to the Arts Centre for our celebration.
Members all brought their own selection of food, but we were all grateful to Anne Whitehead for a delicious selection of sweet treats. Five wines, selected by Richard Harrison and Mervyn Stokes accompanied the food.
We started with a toast to Her Majesty with a Rosé fizz from France. Members were then able to select from a selection of four wines to accompany their food. The two whites on offer were a Vermentino from Sardinia and an Albärino from Portugal. The two reds were a Pinot Noir from California and a Malbec from Argentina.
It was a splendid jubilee celebration with more opportunity for people to chat than at the usual meetings. All the wines were well received by members with many compliments made about the choice. Despite the disappointment at not being to hold the picnic al fresco, everyone went home happy.