Wine Club go looking for a Bargain

Following on from the most expensive time of the year, but not kow-towing to dry January, the welcome theme for January’s village wine club was the January Sales! Interesting wines, significantly discounted by big retailers, were carefully selected by enthusiastic committee members looking out for a bargain!

We had a good range of wines from a light Spanish sparkling Cava to some contrasting whites including a WHITE Rioja (Kevin!), a refreshing dry Muscadet and an exotic fruity Australian Chardonnay. Very drinkable and good value reds comprised a New Zealand Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, a fruity Zinfandel, a meaty Chianti Classico and a classy Barossa Shiraz. All wines had at least a 25% discount on normal prices and are at time of writing still available!  For more detail of the wines, please see the Upton Wine Club website at follow us on twitter @UptonWine

In other news, would anyone be interested in having a go at designing the first Upton Wine Club logo?  Any entries would be very welcome and the prize for the winner will be your own T shirt with the newly designed logo on the front.  It will be an excellent addition to your wardrobe and very good for showing off around the village when the summer comes.

Meanwhile, coming up is our very popular food and wine pairing meeting. Please put Wednesday 20th February in your diary and don’t forget to book! We would love to see you there. It was great to see some new faces this month; we hope very much to see you again next time for some great wines and hopefully delicious food. All welcome as ever.

Any enquiries about Wine Club, please contact Ian at  ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai


A Christmas Tipple at The Wine Club

This month’s Wine Club meeting on 12th December saw our annual homage to Christmas, this year centred around wines to go with each and every course of Christmas Dinner: from a bone dry Cava with the canapés to a delicious tawny port for the stilton and nuts.  To highlight the Christmas Dinner theme an enormous dining table was laid out in the village hall and a small-but-perfectly-formed Christmas meal, including turkey with all the trimmings, was served to every person at what turned out to be a very popular meeting!

The first wine of the evening was a Cava: “Cava Conde de Haro Brut 2016” (supplied by The Wine Society).  This is a seriously good Cava from Muga in Rioja, fermented in bottle and aged for two years just like Champagne.  As already mentioned, it was a bone-dry wine and went very well as an aperitif with the canapés,

Next up was a Riesling:  “Stepp Riesling (Trocken) 2017”  (supplied by Naked Wines).  This is a very clean and crisp wine from Pfalz in Germany and complemented the prawn salad perfectly.  The vineyard has a high limestone content resulting in high calcium content in the grapes, leading to a delicate but persistent minerality.  It’s also dry and very fruity, packing “a punch of fresh flavours” according to one reviewer.

The next two wines, one white and one red, were both served with the turkey and there was much debate as to which accompanied it best!  These wines were:

Domaine Coche-Bizouard, Meursault Ormeau 2013”   (supplied by The Wine Society).  This is a dry white Burgundy produced in the Côte de Beaune sub-region.  This is a lovely wine with nicely balanced acidity.  There’s definitely some peach flavours in there and also hints of oak and vanilla.  We also found out that even though this one was around £30 a bottle (it is for Christmas dinner, after all 😊), it offers very good value for money as similar wines usually cost around 50% more!

Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru Lavières, Domaine Camus-Bruchon, 2008”   (supplied by The Wine Society).  This is a medium-bodied pinot noir wine from the Burgundy region of France.  It went very well with the turkey which isn’t a strongly flavoured meat and so needs a delicate wine which won’t over power it.  This wine is nicely mature (as shown by the orange colour at the rim), the fruit has sweetened on the nose, and the tannins are beginning to soften on the palate.  Gorgeous!

The penultimate wine saw the appearance of the long-promised “wine to go with chocolate” by Debbie Paul 😊.  To meet this challenge Debbie introduced us to a Greek dessert wine, “Samos Anthemis”, from the island of Samos.  Luscious and sweet, this rounded muscat had sumptuous hints of honey and baked-orange aromas.  On the palate it’s sweet with apricot, caramel and nutty flavours. Perfect with tarte tatin, blue cheese or chocolate!

And finally, there was the “Oscar’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port”  (supplied by Naked Wines) to go with the selection of cheeses on offer.  This is an elegant, intense, long and delicious tawny port, and its balance and refinement could easily be that of a 20 years old port.  But no, just 10!

All-in-all a very sociable and festive evening made at the Upton Village Hall.  We are there every month, so if you are interested in coming and trying an evening of tasting (most people who come have little in the way of expertise, but lots of enthusiasm) then have a look at our website ( or send our chairman a note (ku.oc.ooaynull@yelgnal.nai)

Hope to see you all on 16th January for the first Wine Club meeting of 2019.


Wine Club – Taste the difference?

So often we go with what we know when it comes to selecting a bottle of wine.  This month we challenged Derek Whitmell, one of our club members to present 8 wine that were all unlikely to have been tried before and he did not disappoint!  Selecting some quality wines, all from the Wine Society (an on-line retailer who have experts recommend wines for us to try), he took us around the world to some different countries and some different grapes from countries we knew well.

Our first white was Vacqueras Blanc les Chefs d’Or 2016.  White Vacqueyras is rare yet this white Clairette blend is a speciality at Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux down in Rhone, a blend of clairette, rousanne and white grenache. This example is described as “Crisp, dry and perfectly balanced”, which goes well with oysters or fish.

Next was a Greek wine called Tetramythos Roditis Natur,2017. A whistle-clean Greek white. Slightly pink skinned variety of grape, commonly grown in Greece.  For those who were trying to pick out the flavours, they were looking for soft pear and pepper!  The Greeks helped spread wine to the rest of Europe so we have a lot to thank them for!

Our third whites was Mtsvane Georgian Dry White Schuchmann, 2017, (mtsvane  is pronounced ‘ma-ts-vay-nay’), a fresh herbal white made from the mtsvane grape.  It has a zesty freshness which would work well with your fish starter this Christmas!

We finished the whites with Tuercebotas Tempranillo Bianca, 2017, Rioja.  Many people will have tried Rioja, but few will have had a white Rioja made from the tempranillo grape (normally used to make the more common red variety).  This was a great alternative and it was nice to try a crisp white from a grape most recognised.

Reds were all equally intriguing and to save space I have briefly listed them below for reference:

Naoussa  Jeunes Vignes Thymiopoulos,  2016, Greece.  The grape was xinomavro  pronounced “tsi-noh-mavro”.  This one is worth trying chilled.

Hochar Chateau Musar 2015 from Lebanon. This is a blend of Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan.  The premier wine is normally around £28 per bottle so at just under £13 this is a good value wine (try it with a chicken tagine and apricots ).

Novac Sec, Prince Stirbey,  2015 from Romania.  This had ripe but fresh and juicy flavours which make it a very attractive red.

Lagrein Alto Adige, Hofstatter, 2016 from Italy.  Described as having a “bright vibrant, fresh, black-fruited bouquet and naturally sweet juicy flavour, with an appetising salty finish; and “A delightful example of this local north-east Italian speciality”. Lagrein is related to the more common  Pinot and syrah grapes.

All wines provided plenty of discussion and mixed with a very “sociable” evening made it another enjoyable meeting at the Upton Village Hall.    We are there every month, so if you are interested in coming and trying an evening of tasting (no experience needed!) then have a look at our website or send our chairman a note (ku.oc.ooaynull@yelgnal.nai)

Hope to see you all at our special Christmas meeting on the 12th December!




Joie de Vin. come to the Wine Club

October’s meeting saw the very welcome return of one of our most popular speakers, Tim North from Joie de Vin.    The business specialises in importing remarkable French wine from very carefully selected small producers that are not available in UK supermarkets.

It was inspiring to hear Tim’s enthusiasm about the individual suppliers he uses, about their environmental ethics and their very conscientious craft production methods.    Tim deals directly with each supplier and so avoids the usual overheads of the bigger traders.   His selectivity really shows in the quality of the wines.   In total, Tim showed us 8 contrasting wines.   Although a couple were more expensive than the usual we tend to see at Wine Club, they were very good value for what they were!

Tim purposefully avoided wines he had showed us before and the obvious “bar menu” wines like Sauvignon Blanc, giving us a refreshing change.     We started off with a lovely crisp refreshing Domaine Salmon Imperial Sparkling Brut.  Going on to  whites, there was a classic, crisp, dry Touraine Chenin Blanc 2014 with subtle oak notes, a really delicious, well balanced 2017 Pinot Gris from the Loire and a very complex 2016 Macon white Burgundy to rival the fine wines from Cote D’Or, also at a very fair price.  For the reds, there was a soft, fruity 2017 Touraine Gamay, an intense 2017 Cotes de Roussillon partnering beautifully with the paté, a very rich, smooth 2015 Lussac Saint Emillion and for the big showstopper, a wonderful rich red 2015 Pomerol, drinkable on its own but also great with meat or cheese.

All the wines were extremely drinkable and hard to put down and they seemed to go down a storm.  I personally enjoyed them all and would recommend a look at this business if you weren’t able to come along to the meeting.     Certainly, there were a lot of order forms going in at the end of the evening at the special discounted price!

Please see more details of last night’s wine at the Upton Wine Appreciation Society website or follow us on twitter at @UptonWine

Any queries about membership or coming along to a future meeting, please don’t hesitate to contact our Chairman Ian at ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai    A big welcome to our new members this month – we really hope you enjoyed the night.   It was great to see you there.

The next meeting is on 21st November 2018 at 8pm.  As always, everyone welcome!



Wine Club go Back to Basics

The start of a new season for the Upton Wine Appreciation Club and proof that no matter how long you have been enjoying your wine, it’s never too late to remind yourself about which grape is your favourite!

For September we tried some single grape variety wines to remind all members of the wide variety of tastes and to give everyone a steer on which wines to select when next buying a bottle.  It is more unusual to get a single grape of wine these days, more common is a blend however, the opportunity to  pick up that single flavour as a base marker, really helps for perhaps more complex wines to come later in the year!

Following a routine AGM where last year’s committee and Chairman were elected back in for a further year we took a look at our first wine, a typical French Sauvignon Blanc.  Like many grapes it depends on where it is grown and how it is made that influences the taste.  Looking at the colour, smell and of course taste we judged this wine against other whites made from the Chardonnay and Riesling grape.  For the reds we looked at Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

The beauty of a wine is that there are so many flavours which creates many opinions.  All the wines tasted can be found on the Upton Wine Club’s website . If you would like to try just two then we would recommend The Society’s Saar Riesling 2015 (£10.50), a classic taste for Riesling and something that would go well with any spicy dish due to it’s naturally low alcohol volume.  For the red we recommend the Society’s Red Burgundy 2017 (£9.95).  For a Pinot Noir, this is great value and will go well with a warming sausage casserole or some lamb!  Both wines can be purchased from the Wine Society.

Next month we have invited Joie de Vin back to talk about some real gems from France that you will not find in any supermarket.  These proved a real hit last year!  If you would like to join the wine club or just come along and try it for an evening then please drop an email to our Chairman: ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai   The October meeting is on the 17th between 8pm – 10pm, we hope to see you there!

Ian Langley (Chairman)

Wine Club – A little help to remember all those good times!

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and we have just had some roast chicken with the obligatory potatoes and veg.  We are not eating outside but the doors are still open as we try to hang on to the last few days of Summer!  To help the chicken cook, I have opened a bottle of Verdejo from the Spanish region of Rueda and added a little.  I am not sure if it is the right type of wine to cook chicken but everyone seems to be enjoying the food and it gives me a very tame excuse to have a glass whilst cooking!

I am the only one in my house who drinks wine, so often I need to justify “an occasion” to open a bottle.   That is not a challenge, as I can find many an occasion.  However, it has made me wonder “why wine?”  For me, it is great that I can play around trying to match wine with the right food but even more than that, I find it nearly always enhances many a memorable occasion.

For example, at the Upton Picnic in the Park this year, I joined 120 other villagers and friends for a great evening.  I will remember the welly whanging, egg throwing and pizza cooking for a long time but to help it along, I was introduced to a South African, Newton Johnson Southend Chardonnay,  which for me, has been the outstanding wine of this Summer!

At a Summer BBQ earlier this year, by chance I bought “The Waxed Bat”, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec blend from Argentina, mainly because I liked the name (marketing is far from dead!)  I remember sitting in a hastily erected gazebo as the rain clouds threatened and being as shocked as my friend, whose glass I had just filled, at how exceptional it was!  The “one night of rain” we had this Summer was less of an issue as we enjoyed this fine wine with our burgers.

Yes, wine is a very versatile commodity and has a little something for everyone.  For those who want to explore the granular depths of what makes one wine “better” than another, those chasing the “perfect” wine to enhance a starter / main course / dessert or quite frankly for those (myself included) who just find it fun and a great aide-memoir to some great evenings!

The Upton Wine Appreciation Club starts it’s 14th season this year on the 19th September at the Upton Village Hall, where we will be tasting some classic single grape varieties and reminding ourselves which wine tastes best for us.   If you are remotely interested in wine and would like to know a little bit more in a very relaxed friendly environment, then please come along and create some more enjoyable memories!  No knowledge of wine necessary.  You should have already received an application form but if not please email ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai (chairman).

Here’s to another memorable year!




Wine Club’s Picnic in the Park

The 30th June was another glorious day in Upton.  Finally Welly had been found and pointed around 130 Upton residents and their friends to the village park for a picnic!  This was an opportunity for all villagers to come along and enjoy an afternoon of fun and games followed by some great food and entertainment.   And you did not disappoint!  There were several games of rounders with varying numbers playing, with almost everyone trying their hand at Welly Whanging!  If there was a record for how far back you could throw the welly then we would have some serious contenders, as it was the winner was perhaps not surprisingly won by one of our countries leading Frisbee champions, Jamie Rabbetts with a winning throw of 25.9m.   The egg throwing/catching competition was fiercely fought and no one could hide the joy on the faces of Ben Amos and Ray Troskie when they won with a distance of 23.5m.

With some amazing hard work from all the wine committee members and the film club organisers everyone then enjoyed an evening of music, socialising and some great BBQ chicken and pizza, during which there was the Upton home brew competition.  With 12 entries it was close, but the overall winner was Sarah Sayers, who just pipped everyone with her damson gin, congratulations Sarah.

Picnic in the Park started as a small idea by the Upton Wine committee.  If you enjoyed it and wanted to continue the party, then look out for an invitation to join the wine club this year or come along to the fete on the 1st September and join.  Membership is £15 for the year.  There are monthly wine tasting evenings held at the village hall.   We will ask for a contribution of between £5-10 for the meetings you can attend, for which you will get to taste 8 different wines along with some fantastic food, a theme that we will be developing even further this year!  If you want to join or have any questions then please look out for the application form or contact Ian Langley at: ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai.  More information can also be found on our website at

Hope to see you all on the 19th September for our first meeting of the season.



News Flash from the Wine Club

News Flash – Where’s Welly?


Have you seen Welly?  You’ll find him at various locations around our village!   Details of how to get your ticket for the Upton Picnic in the Park on the 30th June 4pm to 11pm are attached to Welly.  Come along and enjoy a few fun activities and a picnic with your friends!

If you’ve missed Welly then here are the details:

Tickets are £10 per adult £5 for 5 – 16 year olds.

  • Ticket includes drink tokens (approx. ½ bottle of wine or 2 beers). BBQ Chicken or traditional stone baked pizza (create your own topping)
  • Take part in no less than 3 WORLD RECORD attempts by the village! (Including how far can you throw an egg or whang your welly? Also, join in the biggest game of rounders ever)!
  • There will be a few extra drink tokens to buy but please bring some of your own (along with any extra picnic items to go with the BBQ)
  • We will have our own resident DJ with some music but feel free to bring your own instruments for a bit of a jam!
  • Also your chance to take part in (or simply have a sample and vote) the very first Upon home brew / wine / gin tasting competition!

Tickets must be purchased in advance (so we can estimate the food and drink!) by the 15th June.   For more information email ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai  (850 793)


Send your money to Ian Langley Barn Acre, Stream Road.  Cheques made payable to Upton Wine Appreciation Club or you can pay on-line account 96544929 sort 60-01-01 (quoting your surname and numbers)!

Member’s Selections at the Wine Club

A slightly reduced number came this month for members’ selections as quite a few of our usual attendees were off trekking around the globe but that didn’t detract from an excellent evening, with a fabulous selection of wines to try for this Summer, with some real bargains!

The first wine of the evening was presented by Will and was the lovely Mirabeau Provence Rose from Waitrose. A versatile Summer wine that will pair with a variety of BBQ and Picnic foods. This wine is bone dry with light red fruits and a fresh acidity, try it with some BBQ mackerel or some classic lamb – Yum!

Wine No. 2 was presented by Chris Traynor who discovered this bargain wine in Aldi after seeing a review in The Times. The Godello from The Wine Foundry is a fresh lemony wine from Galicia which went very well with the mackerel pate prepared by Chris. You can find this wine in Aldi for £6.99 if it hasn’t all been snapped up by Chris. Very versatile “any time of day” wine!

Our 3rd white wine was a South African Chenin Blanc presented by Derek Whitmell from The Wine Society. A pale straw colour with a bright, clean appearance in the glass. This fresh crisp wine has apple and white stone fruit notes on the palate. A nice balance of acidity and fruit, with a streak of minerality throughout. This medium bodied dry wine has a lovely length on the finish and shows all the typical characteristics of a top-class South African Chenin Blanc. Try this for something a little different to the norm!

Wine No. 4 was another bargain wine, this time from Rob Traynor which was the Fire Tree Nero D’Avola. A nice easy drinking red wine that was accompanied by tales of Rob and co attempting to scale Mount Etna in shorts and flipflops, complete with slide show! Another great BBQ wine!

Our 5th wine of the evening was presented by Kieron. A Chianti from Sainsbury’s which was lovely but took a backstage to Kieron’s accompany story. Apparently when he was younger and studying Italian in Italy he mistakenly entered a marathon in Sienna, he thought he was going for a gently hike and was dressed in hiking boots and back pack. Not wanting to pull out but being slightly overdressed for running he was keen to reach the water stops on route but discovered when he arrived at them, and there were quite a few, they were in fact giving out Chianti and Panforte. He managed to finish the race but don’t try this at home!

Our 6th wine of the evening was another South African wine. This time it was the Catoria Pinotage, a smooth full-bodied fruit forward wine presented by David Mason. The wine is made by Carmen Stevens, South Africa’s first black winemaker and is available from Naked Wines. One of the favourites of the evening.

Derek presented the 7th wine which was a Grenache centred Lirac from the Wine Society and Ian finished off the evening with soft smooth Bordeaux, Chateau de Lussac from Majestic. Perfect wines for when you have had a long week at work. Open up the fridge get out some cheese, left over meats etc, take a seat outside, pour a glass and relax!

Lastly as we approach the end of this season, please don’t forget to book tickets to this year’s grand finale, the Picnic in the Park on 30th June. Please note all villagers are welcome! It promises to be a great afternoon and evening and a little different from previous years. We really look forward to you joining us. Please email Ian Langley ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai if you would like to come along. For more details please see the Upton wine website at




Wine Club goes Spanish

Spanish Wines – not just all about Rioja!

This month we were extremely lucky to welcome Abingdon’s Majestic Ben to present a selection of Spanish and Iberian wines.     This so happens to be a specific area of interest for Ben and that really came across in his very drinkable and excellent value choices.

Spain, in particular, has undergone a wine revolution over the last couple of decades and now produces some brilliant wines.   It’s not just all about Rioja!   And for us it was a good opportunity to pair with some popular tapas dishes….

First, a lovely fruity complex Cava with some delicious salted roasted almonds and olives as aperitif.    We then enjoyed a selection of light, balanced and very refreshing fruity wines from Spain and Portugal paired with some delicious garlic prawns and Spanish tortilla.   Wines included a white Rioja, a crisp Albariño and a young Portugese Vinho Verde.    They were perfect wines for a very sunny evening.

Next, we enjoyed a selection of very interesting drinkable reds from some great producers.   Of course, there was a knockout Rioja Reserva and some very complex and rich reds including a noble Pétalos Bierzo, a moreish Douro red and a deep, dark, intensely fruity oaked Ribera del Duero.   Spanish meatballs and delicious chorizo were our tapas choices.

We also managed to squeeze in a quick review of the recent Wine Club survey results and to hold the prize draw (well done to our winner!)  We are obviously happy that members seem to overall love the club but we’re always interested in feedback and will revisit the suggestions at next month’s meeting.

Speaking of next month’s meeting, our next one is Member’s Wines.   We are excited to see what wines will be presented by our own members.  Please come along on Wednesday 16th May for this popular event!

Lastly as we approach the end of this season, please don’t forget to book tickets (£10 – adult, £5 – 5-16 year olds) to this year’s grand finale, the Picnic in the Park on 30th June – Please note all villagers are welcome!    It promises to be a great afternoon and evening and a little different from previous years.     Ticket sales are already holding up very well in anticipation of what hopes to be a wonderful summer party.   We really look forward to you joining us.   Please email Ian Langley ku.oc.oohaynull@yelgnal.nai if you would like to come along.

For more details of any of the above including Ben’s wines, please see the Upton wine website at

Happy drinking!