Wine Club back in Business

September saw the start of a new season for the UWC. With the first ever virtual UWC quiz finishing off the last season in June, this was the first “real” meeting since February this year! It was great to see everyone together, albeit with the new social distance rules that apply to the village hall.

The rules and guidelines for the village hall relating to COVID-19 are constantly being reviewed to ensure we are fully up to date and compliant.   Whilst we have had to make some changes for everyone’s protection, it has been brilliant to have the opportunity to bring back a little bit of normality for everyone who enjoys the wine club.

September allowed the club to start the new season with the delayed March meeting, which was wines from Brian and Giulia’s Strictly Wine business, presented by Ros and Andy, the distributors that have helped Strictly Wine build their business from the start!

One of the great things about wine is the varying tastes experienced from the same grape, which you get from the differing regions and methods of wine making. Great for the variety but not always easy to make a selection.   Ros and Andy helped out here by comparing various wines for different countries and regions for everyone to compare and contrast.

To start we tried the Zorzal, Sauvignon Blanc “Eggo Blanc de Cal” from Mendoza with the Saint Clair Pioneer Block 1 from Marlborough. Whilst the New Zealand Marlborough is perhaps better known for SB, there was an even split on preference. Try the Zorzal for something different!

Next we tried the Tahbilk Viognier, Nagambie Lakes from Victoria and the Swartland Winery ‘Limited Release’ Carignan. Really interesting to try a white against a red. There was a clear winner here, with one member ordering several cases of the Carignan….Christmas come early (if it lasts that long!)   100% Carignan, with some great complexity and a combination of dark red fruits and chocolate – Yum!

We had two very contrasting Pinot Noir’s to taste next. Lake Chalice ‘The Nest’ Pinot Noir from Marlborough and Ernst Gouws Pinot Noir, Western Cape. Two great wines, which changed people’s view as the wine opened up. The Nest, produced some very aromatic flavours mixed with light raspberries, whilst the Ernst Gouws was a much deeper red with again, more chocolate notes with red berries. Both great and worth trying with some Pate for a lazy Sunday supper!

Out last wine comparison was the Argentine Piattelli Premium Malbec Premium, Cafayate and the Berton Vineyard Gundagai Shiraz from New South Wales, Australia. Both brilliant wines to finish on, with the Australian Shiraz becoming the overall favourite, with some beautiful deep red berry flavours.  Just right for a beef casserole!

If you fancy trying any of the wines above then please look up (or just see Brian). For anyone wanting to know more about the wine club or who wants to come along and see what it’s all about please go to our website ( or mail

Looking forward to October’s meeting, where the committee will be talking about some of their favourite wines from the Summer!






Story Telling at the Wine Club

This February we asked some of our members to present a wine of their choice (along with the odd story).   Whilst we may all have our wines we love and those we don’t love so much, the one thing that unites us all is that there is always a story behind some of our most memorable wine moments.  That’s one of the reasons we all enjoy coming to the club each month!

To start, Ian reminded us that knowing just a little bit about where our wines are from can be very beneficial by letting us try a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire region in France.   From the Upper area we tried a well known SB from Sancerre and compared this with a SB from the Middle region of Touraine.  At nearly half the price of the Sancerre, any wine from Touraine is worth a go as a good alternative.

Our newest member of the committee, Natalie spoke fondly of a wine from Greece, Assyrtiko which was a reminder of the wine served at her wedding reception, which was held next to a winery in Santorini.   A wine not many had tasted and well worth a try.

Brian spoke about an amazing women called Samantha O’Keefe, who single handily set up a winery in South Africa on the Lismore Estate, with no previous experience.  Along with bringing up two small children, she managed to produce some of the highest rated wines by the worlds most notable wine tasters, only to have it all brought down around her by a fire that took away her vines but also her house.  Undeterred, she is selling the last few remaining wines and starting again.  You will not be able to try her new wines for another 2 years but there are still some left from the last harvest!  We tried the Viognier but they are all good and available at

Paul took us through the last of the whites, which he tried presenting a few years back but was unable to find a wine from Lanzarote to present.   You would not think vines could grow in volcanic soils with not much more than a few inches of rain each year but this was an experience for us all. Look out for El Grifo, which was a very refreshing drink.

We had three reds to finish.  Derek took us through two wines.  The first was a red from Austria.  Not a normal part of the world to find a red due to the cooler climate.    The grape variety called Zweigelt produced a light (9.5% vol) wine that was labelled a picnic wine.  To finish we were treated to a wine he had bought 8 years ago and laid down in temperature controlled storage.  Bought at just over £10 and now worth over £20, the Chateau Beaumont, Haut-Medoc, 2009 was a real treat.

In between these wines Simon talked mainly about a bit of a road trip in Georgia he had been on where he came across various wineries.  We tasted a bottle which was made from 100% Saperavi grape.  Another excellent wine but equally good story!

It was great to hear everyone talk about their experiences with wine, thanks to everyone who contributed!  Next month, we have a real treat with two guys who supply wines to Strictlywine “pitching” for our vote as they present wines from various countries from around the world – all related to the rugby Six Nations (both current and potential future participants!)

If you would like to come along then please get in touch with Ian ( or try our website:

Ian Langley


Wine Club Celebrate Wineuary

Wine Club – January meeting

Upton wine club celebrated “Wineuary” this month with a selection of wines where we had tried to find a bargain buy!  Whilst you should look out for offers from places such as the Sunday Times Wine Club (where most of our wines were sourced this month), the best priced wine of the evening came from Strictly Wine, which had no sale, “just permanently good priced wine all year round!” as Brian put it.

The aim was to keep it under a tenner per bottle and see what bargains could be found.   To start, we tried Tenuta Ca’Bolani, a perfectly good Prosecco from the North West of Italy.   Light and easy drinking, it had a fruity flavour with good intensity.  A good wine that would work well as a welcome drink to any party.

The next white was a 2.4K Sauvignon Blanc from the tip of the NewZeland South Island.  Just round  the corner from the more famous Marlborough region.  Do not let this give you any indication on it’s taste!  With a ripe peach and apricot aroma on the nose and lots of tropical fruits coming through when tasting, you could be forgiven for not picking this up as a Sauv Blanc.  If you are not a typical lover of this grape then please try this as something a different!

The third wine, from, was a new grape to the wine club.  From the less well known region of the Republic of North Macedonia.  Tikves Smederevka (we all had fun pronouncing that one!) produces a white wine with tropical and stone fruit aromas, underpinned by a zesty lemon note.  This is an award winning wine made from the Smederevka grape that produces a great alternative to some of the more well know varieties.

Our last white was a Chardonnay from the Limestone Coast, Australia.  A “Cleanskin” wine, meaning The distributors do not detail the exact source of wine, just letting you know the region (which helps keep the prices low).  A good, reasonably balanced wine, with some length that reflects the quality of it’s origin.

Our first red was a Shiraz, Malbec blend from Australia called Mr Anderson.  A rich wine full of black fruit and herbal notes.   A smooth finish with some length that went down well with the members.  The suggested pairing is with any rich sauced pasta dish.

We then compared two further Shiraz wines.  A cleanskin from the Langhorne Creek region and Deep River Shiraz from the same region in McCaren Vale.  The second wine was billed as a half price offer wine (normally over £18).  Shiraz is one of Australia’s most popular grapes and both were labelled as bold, medium acidity with medium tannic.  Both were very nice wines and if you love Shiraz you would not be disappointed.  On reflection you could tell the Deep River had a few more years to mature.

Our last wine was a classic Rioja from the Alavesa region.  Baron de Barbon is a classic Rioja full of red fruit and full body, with a typical vanilla taste.  Good value Rioja, “safe” and paired with grilled lamb chops , char-grilled vegetable kebabs for example.

Wine fact for the month:  Rioja has over 140,000 acres of cultivated land that produces  250 million litres of wine annually, helping make Spain the 3rd largest producer of wine in the world!

Next month, we will be asking our members to select a wine to talk about.  Looking forward to a wide selection of wines to try!   If you would like to come along and see what it is all about please visit our website ( or email

Hope to see you on the 19th February!

Wines from the New and Old World Wineries at the Wine Club

The nights are drawing in and you can feel the rapid advancement of Christmas in the air.  There was definitely some high spirits at the November Upton Wine Club meeting on the 20th of November. The evening was hosted by Ian and David, who took us through a comparison of blended wines from both New and Old world wineries.  Wine makers blend grapes to create some “complexity” in the wine they are making, developing new and different tastes that are reflected in the many thousands of wines we can choose.   Blended wines could be as simple as mixing 2 or 3 grape varieties or, as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, up to 13 different grape varieties.

Over the evening we compared several blends, two wines at a time, with similar blends from both the New World and the Old world.   First, we looked at sparkling wines with classic Pinot Noir, Meunier and a touch of Chardonnay blend.  From the Champagne region Drappier Premier Cru and from South Africa Graham Beck Brut.  There were less “toast and yeast” notes that you might have expected from a champagne in the Drappier and the Graham Beck proved a good alternative to a prosecco if you fancy a change.

The next set of whites compared was Château Recougne Blanc, a white Claret (Yes you can get some white wines from Bordeaux) and Parcel Series from Australia’s Margaret River region.  Both based on Sauvignon Blanc with significant blend from Sémillon.  General consensus was that it was best to stick to reds when selecting wines from Bordeaux!

Our first set of reds were based on a blend of “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre). From the Old world we looked at Gigondas Carobelle 2018, a very typical wine from the Rhone valley region in France and Yalumba Strapper from Australia.  Both were very good wines with strong flavours of black fruit, followed by blackcurrant, thyme, liquorice and tobacco characters.   Both wines would go well with your winter Stew!

To finish we went back to Bordeaux and selected a better known Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend wine, Les Ormes Sorbet and compared it with Capaia One from South Africa.  Again, both good wines but if there was a standout wine of the evening it was the Les Ormes Sorbet 2007.   If you are looking for a very good value red for Christmas day, that will go with your duck and (if you have any leftover) your cheese later in the day, then this is highly recommended.  At around £15 per bottle (we sourced this one from Majestic)  and are in favour of toasty, spicy red fruit notes then you will be hard pushed to get better value!

Next month is our Christmas meeting on the 11th December and is one of the most favoured meetings of the year.  A chance to kick-off the Christmas season with some of your village friends and with some great food and wine.  This year, attendees will have a chance to win some very special prizes to make your festive season even more special!   As a member or someone who just wants to come along and see what we are all about this is a great meeting to attend.  If you are interested please see our website  ( or contact Ian (   At just £12 for members and £14 for non-members, this is a chance to try some amazing wine if you are still looking for something special for your celebrations this year.

Have a great festive season!

Ian (Chairman)

Joie de Vin visit the Wine Club

On 16th October, we welcomed the return of Tim and Gill from ‘Joie de Vin’, who have now become an established feature of the Upton Wine Club annual calendar.  There was a good turnout of 34 from the village and there was a mood of eager anticipation for the forthcoming wines on offer.

The evening kicked off with a lovely sparkling wine, ‘Domaine Des Pampres d’or Cremant de Bourgogne’, which is from the South Burgundy area. It is made in the traditional method and is complex; it is especially recommended as a pair to canapes. It achieved much approval from the members!

The second bottle of the night was a Sauvignon, ‘Domaine de la chaise’, Touraine Chenoneaux Blanc, AOP 2016 (vegan)’. This was a rich full wine with exotic and citrusy fruit flavours, similar to a Sancerre. This wine particularly works well paired with oily fish or creamy sauces.

The third bottle was ‘L’Orfevre Viognier, IGP Cotes du Lot 2017’. This came with a note of peaches and apricots on the palette and Tim advised that it would go well with chicken and cheese. The latter was in fact confirmed by many on the night, as we were able to sample the delightful tapas on each table, which included some lovely strong cheese.

The fourth bottle, our final white of the evening, was the ‘Domaine Normand Pouilly Fuisse Les Crays 2017, (vegan)’. This wine is produced in the Burgundy area, with a limited production of 2500 bottles a year, as the grapes are handpicked from a small vinyard. The wine exudes rich aromas of exotic fruit, citrus and coconut and is very minerally on the finish.

Onto the reds. First up, the Domaine Pampres d’Or Cuvee Prestige Beaujolais Rouge, 2015 (vegan). This was a complex nose of rich red fruits with a slight hint of vanilla. It is an exceptional Beaujolais made from the estate’s best parcels of Gamay. This red goes very well with meat in sauce, cheese… or simply on it’s own!

The second red wine of the evening was the ‘Chateau Le Plantay, Cotes de Castillon, 2015’. This was a classic right bank Bordeaux, deep in colour and full and smooth on the palate. Again, another particularly appreciated wine of the night.

The next wine was ‘Domaine du Bon Remede Le Grange Delay Ventoux, from the Rhone Valley, 2017’. According to the notes provided by Tim and Gill, “ this is a wonderfully smooth full wine from the Southern Rhone, to the east of Chateauneuf- du- Pape. Awarded 97 points and a platinum medal by Decanter magazine, this is what they had to say about this wine:- A tremendously fruit intensity. Complex and immaculate. Enough to make you sit back and marvel!

The final wine of the evening was the ‘Chateau Montfin Cuvee Margot 2016 AOP Corbieres’ which is certified organic (my personal favourite!). This is a deep dark wine with intense red fruit and vanilla aromas. It is made from Syrah (60%), Grenache (25%) and old Carignan (15%). This wine is excellent with roast beef or mature cheese. This is an exceptional wine and a great wine to end a very enjoyable evening.

A big thank you to Tim and Gill for another memorable evening. We look forward to welcoming members (and newcomers) to our next wine club event which is to be held on 20th November, with a focus on ‘blends’. See you there!  For further information please got to:

Natalie Robertson, ‘new’ committee member.

“Call my Bluff” at the Wine Club

The Upton Wine Club started their fifteenth season in the newly furnished village hall this September.   A great evening, with a touch of “ first day of term” feeling about it.   To dust down the taste buds and remind everyone of the wide variety of flavours you can get from wine, the committee held a call my Bluff game.   Three descriptions of wine were read out, with only one being correct.  The audience simply had to guess the right one!

There was a wide variety of wines tasted, all mainly around the £9 – £12 mark.   We use this as benchmark prices for the wines we taste as we feel it provides great quality wine for an affordable price.  One of the principle purposes of our club is to give people the opportunity to try wines they may not have tried before.  Look at the wines we tasted and if any look of interest give them a try!

Graham Beck Brut – A sparkling wine made from the same grapes used to make Champagne.  Made in the same classic way as Champagne but you will pay significantly less!  Well worth trying if you like your bubbles!

Definition Viognier – A grape grown all over the world and a must if you like aromatic, floral flavours.

Godello, Katia Alveraz – Not a well known grape but becoming very popular due to its versatility to pair with pretty much everything.  Try it with fish to pick up on the citrus flavours.

Blind River, Savignon Blanc – A classic SB from Marlborough NZ.  Full of herbaceous flavours and a must try if this grape is a favourite of yours.

Definition Pinotage – a big red wine, full of rich flavours of blackberry and raspberry.  Perfect if you like strong bold flavours.

Morgon Chateau de Pizay  – A Gamay grape with a fine fruity taste.  Lots of blackberries and cherries and a silky smooth finish!

Viñalba Reserve Malbec – Another big red wine from Argentina.  Full of dark fruit, cocoa and lip=smacking melted tannins.  Perfect with an Autumn steak!

Revival Zinfandel – Picking up flavours of jam, blueberry and black pepper and a smoky finish.  It is a lovely smooth red.

If you like your wine and want to try a broad range, whilst catching up with a few of your fellow neighbours from the village then come and join us on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the village hall between 8-10pm.  All details on our website:  Hope to see you there!



(Club Chairman)

Making the most of your Summer Wine

I hope you are all enjoying your Summer?   This is the time of year when some of us decide to travel away from these shores to more exotic locations and (just to be social) try some of the local wines!  If you are feeling that little more adventurous then pick up a local cheese to go with your wine and see if the local produce really does go best with the local wine!

Whether it’s a vacation or “staycation” then here are a few more tips and recommendations to try out!   Most of which have been tried and tested by our wine committee!

  • Going to a Summer BBQ round friends and want to ensure you are able to drink a nice bit of plonk with your chicken burger/salad/Prawns….etc Take a good bottle of Rose…..most people will assume this is a cheap bottle from one of the budget supermarkets and leave well alone, heading for the white instead. Leaving you to enjoy some good quality wine all to yourself!
  • Want to try something different to cool you down? Look no further than the drink of this Summer, An Aperol Spritz!   Cool, easy to drink, looks and tastes amazing!   How do you make it?   4 oz chilled prosecco, 2 oz Aperol, Sparkling water and a slice or two of orange.  Put it in one of those large round gin glasses you got for Christmas with buckets of ice.  Sit back and enjoy!
  • Food idea? Meal for one (or two small eaters) and cannot finish off the entire bottle?   Open a bottle of nice dry white wine and make a risotto.  Have a glass whilst you are making it.  Pour a glass in as you make it and then have a glass whilst eating it!   Nothing wasted and a great use of wine!   (For reference I use the Jamie Oliver simple risotto recipe, although I normally end up opening a second bottle!)
  • Lastly, and something I know we have all experienced. If you are on holiday and find yourself sitting down by the pool, with the hot sun on your back and a glass of some local wine in your hand (for probably less than 5 EUROS), drink it ALL and leave it out there, along with the wonderful memories of your trip.   If you try bringing it back home to recreate that magical moment, then the likelihood is you will get to realise why it was just 5 EUROS!

Whatever you are doing, enjoy your break!   The Upton Wine Club will be at the Fete this year on the 7th September.  Please do come along and say hi!   Our first meeting will be on the 18th September at the village hall.   If you are new to the club and want to give it a try then please do send me an mail:

Ian Langley

Wine Club Prepare for the Return of Picnic in the Park

Wednesday 15th May saw the last of this seasons’ “usual” monthly wine club meetings, with a number of wines presented by club members.  For the first time, we teamed up with the Upton Baking Club, who made some superb food to go with the wine.  Too many people to mention but a massive thank you to everyone who spoke and produced some amazing food.  Yet another reminder of just how sociable and friendly we are in this village!  For details on all the wines, please go to our website.

Voting was also held for a club logo, a bit of fun and with lots of options to choose from.  The winner will be revealed at the opening meeting for next season!

It was our pleasure to celebrate a special birthday of one of our founder members, Mike Collins, who, even after 8 glasses of wine, was able to deliver an off the cuff thank you speech with a level of detail, humour and coherence we have come to expect from his many talks for the club.

We are delighted to say that following the success of last year, we will be inviting everyone from the village and their friends to join us for another Picnic in the Park on Saturday 29th June.  Starting at 5pm, the Wine Club invites you all to come along and enjoy a few games, some drink (not just wine!) and a bit of food!

We will get the party started, providing some food and drink as part of entry fee (£10 adults, £5 children – Under 5’s free).  As per last year, you are invited to bring your own picnic to continue the party!

For anyone who did not come last year (and there were only a few!), Picnic in the Park is an opportunity to enjoy an afternoon/evening with some of your friends from the village.  A chance to catch up with the person you nod to as you walk your dog but never seem to have the time to talk, or if you are new to the village get introduced to some of the characters who have become your neighbours (and there are many!)

Back by popular demand will be another chance to see how far you can whang your welly (audiences are advised to sand well back!), throw your egg to a friend (see previous advice to the audience!), bring a sample of your home brew (for the “best homebrew” in the village trophy!) and many more fun things to do!

All the details will be available on the Upton Wine Club website (  For more information or to book your tickets, please mail Ian, our Chairman at

Keep an eye out for “Welly”, who has returned and is situated somewhere in the village with more details on how to be part of Picnic in the Park.  We hope to see you there!



Wine Club look at paying for the brand.

Have you noticed the price of wine has gone up recently?  If, for example your favourite tipple is a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume, then you will be paying a few extra pounds for the same bottle this year than last. There are a number of reasons for this and not all down to Brexit! Low yields, increases in tax and the simple economics of supply and demand to name but a few. Maybe, you are also paying a bit for the brand?

With this in mind, April’s wine club took on the challenge of comparing similar wines but with a significant price difference!  Members compared two wines at a time, served blind. First, we looked at two sparkling wines. A Cremant de Loire and Taittinger. Both excellent wines with the Champagne giving classic notes of yeast and “ burnt toast” flavour synonymous with that quality wine. The members were split on opinions and with the Cremant nearly 3 times cheaper the overall consensus was that you could taste the difference but if the flavours of Champagne are not your thing then at £12.99 a bottle, what a great alternative!.

Next we looked at two Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Loire region. The North or “upper regions” are famous for producing excellent SB’s. Some of the most well known wines come from the Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire region, which produce excellent but rather expensive whites. We looked at a Pouilly Fume and another SB from the less know area of Touraine, 60 miles to the West. If you like this wine then please do try some from the Touraine area, based on the reaction from our members, there was little to tell between both wines (other than the Olivier Dubois from Touraine was £7.99, over half the price of the Les Cascadeles).

We moved on to the reds and tried two wines with a base grape of Tempranillo. A classic Rioja was compared with wine from Ribera del duero (North West of Spain). The Vina Alarde Reserva Rioja was considered an excellent example of a good Rioja, which at £5.48 per bottle, was a third the price of the Emilio Moro (which was still an excellent wine!) if you have never tried wines from the Ribera region then definitely worth a try from something a little different.

Our last comparison of the evening looked at two wines from Bordeaux. The Wine Societies house Claret was compared with the Society’s Exhibition Margaux. With the Margaux being one of our most expensive wines of the year at nearly £25 per bottle, we were all keen to see if there was much difference. One only had to look at the different quantities of wine in each of David’s (the presenter), tasting glass to see which was his favourite wine of the evening! Sometimes it really is worth paying a bit extra……but do not always go with the wine just because of the brand!

Next month’s wine’s club is on the 15th May and is a must for new and existing members. We are combining food from the Upton Baking club with Members stories – a chance to hear what everyone else has been tasting over the past year or so. Also, we will be voting for the Wine Club Logo! There is still time to submit your entry! For all the details please visit our website:

Ian Langley (Chairman)


Wine Club Enjoy a Wine and Cheese Evening

Carrying on the popular theme of wine with food, we had another great wine and cheese evening this month with some outstanding cheeses and very drinkable wine combinations.

We started with a lovely, high quality and drinkable Prosecco with a delicious Gran Padano cheese followed by a crisp, dry yet very aromatic and pleasantly floral Greek white with some melted halloumi. A lightly oaked yet bright and fresh Chardonnay paired well with a beautiful creamy brie and a fragrant and full-bodied Viognier with a very indulgent creamy and complex Delice de Crème!

On to reds and we enjoyed a very fruity rich Sangiovese with Taleggio: Typically a mild creamy cheese with an unexpected pungent aroma. Then a very drinkable fruity Grenache from the Barossa valley in Australia. It was brilliantly paired with a hard goat’s cheese affectionately named “Rustic Rachel” after a lovely lady who apparently shared personality traits with this cheese (sweet, curvy and slightly nutty – wish we could meet her!) and topped with a dark cherry to match the notes of the wine. A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina made from grapes grown in the very sunny region of North Mendoza went very well with a delicious mature Cornish Quartz cheddar.

We rounded off the evening with a tawny port paired with a robust Barkham Blue, a lovely classic combination leaving us wanting even more despite having had SO much!

Thanks to the Committee for pulling together some delicious and well matched combinations.   All in all it was a very sociable and relaxed evening.

It’s great to see both regular and new faces at Wine Club.   If you’re new to Upton and you would like to meet some friendly village folk over a drink and a chat or would just like to try it out, please get in touch or just come along to our next meeting on Wednesday 17th April at 8pm. It’s very relaxed and down to earth and you really don’t need to know anything about wine (just enjoy drinking it). We would love to see you!

Lastly, don’t forget the Wine Club logo competition!  Entries to Ian in time for May’s meeting.

Any enquiries about Wine Club, please contact Ian at


For more wine and meeting details please see Twitter @UptonWine