Wine Circle

February 2019

At the February meeting Circle member Stephane Jamin presented a selection of wines from Booths to Circle members.

The selection included wines from Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain. A total of eight wines, three whites and five reds.

The whites, from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were all very good.  The New Zealand wine was a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, an iconic though expensive wine from that country, but good for a special event.

The reds were from South Africa, Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, so four out of five from the “Old World”. An excellent selection of reds that would grace any meal.  It showed that the “Old World” can still produce very good quality wines, and we should not always head for what is described as the “New World” for our purchases.

A selection of excellent refreshments were provided by Ann & Richard Harrison and Philippa Catterall.  The vote of thanks was given by Alan Jefferson.

March 2019

At the March meeting we travelled back to Italy with a presentation from Bruno Rafala from Enoteca, the wine shop at Huntleys farm shop at Samlesbury.

Guy Pugh gave Bruno the brief of bringing white wine from Southern Italy and reds from the North of the country.  Normally you might expect reds from the hotter south and whites from the cooler region of the north.

We tasted seven wines in all, three whites and four reds.  The grape varieties used in most of these wines were all indigenous to the area in which the wine is produced.

The whites all conjured up thoughts of hot summer days and cold refreshing wines drunk al fresco.  Two of the reds were quite light, and could be chilled for summer drinking, and two heavier reds that would go well with Autumn or Winter Stews.

A very enjoyable and interesting evening, with the wines enhanced by an excellent selection of food produced by Jackie Hastings and Glynnis Jefferson.  The vote of thanks was proposed by Ann Wicks.

April 2019

Due to illness, the speaker from Bowland Forest Vintners was unable to attend the April meeting and Guy Pugh stepped into the breech with a selection of wines that he entitled “Turned out nice”.

Many of us have perhaps bought a slightly unusual but interesting looking bottle of wine, and sometimes found it to exceed our expectations in terms of taste and quality. This was the basis for the selection presented at this meeting.

Guy presented a total of eight wines to the meeting, five of which were obtained from our local Booths Store.

We started with a sparkling rosé wine from Australia and followed with three whites from Armenia, Hungary and Italy. Armenia may be a bit of a surprise choice, but archeological finds have suggested that this part of the world is where wine culture may have begun, perhaps as much as 4,500 years BC. The sparkling wine was made using Pinot Noir, but all of the whites were made from unfamiliar grape varieties that we might normally ignore.  

The four reds were from Italy, USA (California), Spain and Australia and made from more familiar grape varieties, but the names given to the wines, or the bottle shape or label might draw the attention of the more adventurous wine buyer. That was the intended message of the evening, when buying wine, be a little adventurous and don’t always go for the familiar !

An interesting and entertaining evening that clearly provoked a great deal of discussion amongst members.

Thanks go to Diana and Colin Bell for the excellent food provided during the evening, and Philippa Catterall for the Vote of Thanks.

May 2019

The circle welcomed Simon Jackson from Byrne wine merchants in Clitheroe for his second visit.

The theme for the evening was “Wines form Islands” and so he brought four white wines, two from Sicily and one each from Mallorca and Corsica.  hese were followed by three reds from Tasmania, Sardinia and Mallorca.  

Four of these islands are, of course, in the Mediterranean sea, and Tasmania is surrounded by the Bass Straight which separates it from Australia, the Indian Ocean to the west, and the Tasman sea to the east.

June 2019

At the June tasting Mick Gould brought along a selection of Italian Wines from his shop, Enoteca, at Huntleys, Samlesbury.  Mick has a particular knack of purchasing “bin ends” of good quality wines at reasonable prices and several of the wines he presented fell into this category.

This meant that members were able to sample some rather better quality wines than usual and the fact that his selection included nine different wines meant everyone had an excellent evening.  

July 2019

While the club does not usually meet in July, this year we met on Saturday 13th for an Italian themed meeting.  Bruno Rafala form Enoteca at Huntleys, Samlesbury masterminded the event bringing a selection of Italian wines (a Fizz, two whites and four reds) and arranging for Danté’s of Garstang to provide a delicious meal.

It was a highly convivial evening, with those who attended returning home replete.

September 2019

The new season of meetings started at the Arts Centre with our AGM followed by a presentation by committee members of a selection of wines that they found to be particularly interesting.

Some new members attended this meeting and we extend a warm welcome to them and hope they enjoy our company.

The business part of the meeting was swiftly concluded, accompanied by a sparkling wine obtained from Aldi.

There followed a collection of wines by committee members Steve Holt, Glynis Jefferson, Rosemary Stokes, Anne Whitehead, and Alan Jefferson (on behalf of Richard Harrison).

The selection consisted of whites from France (Alsace) and Spain and reds from New Zealand, Italy, and France (Rhone).  A varied selection, notable in that only one wine from what is termed the “New World” was included (New Zealand).  Is that a reflection of the tastes of committee members ?

A wonderful selection of food was prepared by Jackie Hastings and Glynis Jefferson.

All in all an excellent evening to start our new season and a good forerunner of the delights to come over the next year.

December 2019

Some 45 people thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas Party at the Arts Centre on Saturday 14th December.  As was usual in a Wine Circle gathering, the wine flowed freely and was accompanied by excellent food and good conversation.

People were welcomed with a glass of Aldi Cremant D’Alsace - always a good choice for anyone wanting a reasonably priced “Fizz”.  Subsequently there were tastings of a Picpoul De Pinet from the French Languedoc, a Biferna Rosso from central Italy, a Chablis from Northern Burgundy, a Spanish Rioja Reserva, a Minervois again from the Languedoc, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Merlot from South Africa.

Many of the wines were relatively inexpensive and the evening demonstrated that it is not necessary to spend a large amount of money in order to enjoy good wine.  Steven Holt was responsible for choosing the wines and he did a sterling job.

During the evening people enjoyed a slide show of photographs of old Garstang prepared by Steve Ridings and a monologue from Anne Wicks.  There was fierce competition between teams vying to design the best decorated Christmas wine bottle.  Delicious food was prepared by a dedicated team of volunteers co-ordinated by Anne Whitehead.

The evening concluded with dancing organised by our resident DJ Steve Ridings.   

Visit to a winery

At the end of September 27 members set off to spend a weekend in the beuatiful old city of York.  On the Friday evening we had dinner in our hotel with a collection of wines to match the food provided by a local wine merchant, Nick Chadwick, from the “winearray” shop in Boroughbridge. Good food and excellent wine provided the perfect start to the weekend.

After a leisurely start on the Saturday we arrived by coach at the “Yorkshire Heart” winery and micro brewery.  We were given an interesting and entertaining talk from Chris Spakouskas, the enthusiastic owner, on the history of the vineyard and a tour of some of the vines.

A light lunch was provided to accompany the tasting of a selection of their wines, followed the completion of the tour which took in more of the vineyard and the winery.

Although only established for thirteen years, the vineyard is producing some very acceptable wines that can only get better as the vines age and develop more intense flavours in the grapes.

We arrived back in York and had some free time for a wander around the city.  People either joined the group or made their own arrangements for dinner.

Perhaps an unusual setting for a wine tour, but an interesting and enjoyable weekend for the group.   

November 2019

The meeting started with committee member Debbie Hewitt presenting a Welsh sparkling wine.  Pefriog is produced at the Gwinllan Vineyard near Conwy and it demonstrates the quality of sparkling wines now being produced in the British Isles.  It was clearly a hit with members.

Member Jennifer McNamee then presented a selection of wines from the Lebanon including some from the iconic Chateau Musar.

Chateau Musar was established in 1930 in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon by the Hochar family who still own it today.

Over recent years, with the exception of 1976 and 1984 it has continued production in spite of being close to what has been a war zone.  Since peace was established, the number of wine producers has increased in that area of the Lebanon, and Jennifer also presented wines from Chateau Kefraya and the Ixsir winery, both now competitors to Musar.

Musar wine tends to be controversial, and opinions were split about its wines presented at the tasting.  The wines from Kefraya and Ixsir were well received and provide good alternatives to Chateau Musar.

It was certainly an enjoyable meeting that provided much discussion of the merits of the wines.

The food for the evening was provided by Carol & Brice Allan and Mike & Brenda Ashton and the vote of thanks was given by Jolanta Basnyet

A Port & Cheese Evening

As one of its “extracurricular activities” we met at the Arts centre on Saturday 9th of November to sample port provided by Stuart Rothwell of the “Vineyard” in Ramsbottom and cheese sourced by committee member Anne Whitehead.

We sampled six ports, the selection consisting of a White Port, a Rosé, both tasted with and without tonic then a Tawny, a Ruby, a Late Bottled Vintage, a Crusted port and a Vintage Port costing over £100 per bottle. The ports were followed by a Portuguese Muscat.  An excellent chance to compare Ports of various age and price.

The selection of cheese included Garstang White, Garstang Blue, Spanish Manchego.

A most convivial evening and thanks must go to Stuart for coming across from Ramsbottom with the port and leading the tasting.

January 2020

The Waitrose supermarket chain has a reputation for having a good selection of wines on their shelves, so we were pleased to welcome John Harwood from their Preston Store to present a selection of their Australian wines.

We have all seen the pictures of the devastating fires in the Australian states of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales over the past weeks.

All but one of the wines presented came from these states and there are reports of the wine industry being affected by these fires. It is only when the full extent of the damage is determined that we will know the effect on the wine industry and the consequences for the growers who have spent decades developing their vineyards.

We were presented with seven wines in total.  We started with a pink fizz, a light and refreshing wine that would be ideal for summer drinking.  This was followed by two whites, a Reisling and a Semillon, both delicious and elegant wines that would be ideal for the summer but would also go well with chicken or fish at any time of the year.

The selection of reds showed how much more sophisticated Australian wines have become since the 70’s when all but the most expensive tended to be over oaked and overpower accompanying food.

The wines tasted were a Merlot, a Grenache and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot all of which could be enjoyed with roast lamb or beef or a winter casserole, so good wines for this time of year.

We finished with a delicious pudding wine.  It was sweet but not cloying on the palate.  It would suit either cheese or a dessert.

Thanks go to Diana & Colin Bell for the refreshments and to Anne Whitehead for the vote of thanks.