Wine Club take a Trip Down the Loire

“A Trip Down the Loire”

February saw the return of Club member Derek Whitmell to discuss one of his many favourite wine regions The Loire. Much of his talk came from his personal journys round the region.  All the wines were sourced from The Wine Society but some of the wines can be sourced from other wine outlets and are noted where known.

The River Loire, is the longest river in France, 1000km long, source in the Ardeche, south of Lyons. Flows (mainly) north for several hundred km then bends through right angle to flow West, entering Atlantic to the west of Nantes.

The climate varies from ‘continental’ at Sancerre to an ocean climate warmed by the Gulf Stream at the western end.  The region is at the north western limit of vine cultivation in Europe (excluding England) and frost can cause problems. The climate varies from year to year so that quality and style of harvest varies significantly; cool summers can restrict ripening of grapes, whereas hot summers can produce exceptionally sweet white wines but rob dry white wines of their verve.

Wine varieties: At mouth of Loire, Melon du Bourgoyne (muscadet).  Central areas Sauvignon blanc , Chenin Blanc, (and chardonnays); cabernet franc, pinot noir etc

1.Crémant de Loire. Gratien and Meyer, Cuvée 1864. NV 12%

Grapes come principally from Saumur and Touraine.  Chardonnay 57%, Pinot noir 43%. Champenoise method, aged 8 months in oak casks. Second fermentation in bottle, stored 32 months in cold cellars in tuffeau caves beneath Saumur. Disgorgement by hand. The Wine Society £12.95; Majestic £9.99; Waitrose £9.74

  1. Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sue Lie. Ch. L’Oiseliniére de la Ramée, 2013 12%

Chéreau has been a leading name for winemaking for centuries. This Chéreau married Mme Carre (owner of Ch. L’Oiseliniere), joined forces and have been supplying The Wine Society since 1980’s.

Sur Lies (left on lies before racking off) provide extra dimension and character to wine. This wine is crisp, very dry, slightly salt taste from being near the coast? easy drinking, ideal with seafood, but also with a range of lighter dishes. Older years can develop with considerable length. This wine deserves to be more popular

The Wine Society £7.75, Majestic £5.99/£7.99; Waitrose £5.99/£7.99.

  1. Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine Guénault, 2015, 13.5%

Fresh young sauvignon (100%) from the Bougrier family’s own property near St. Georges, in the highest part of the Touraine situated  on steep slopes overlooking the Cher river near Chenonceau (SE of Tours, South of Amboise), gives grapes excellent sun exposure. Good as an aperitif, with fish, goat’s cheese etc. Dry, light, grassy and scented, with instantly recognisable aromas include ‘greenfruits, such as gooseberries, or nettles or tomcats!’

The Wine Society £7.95, Majestic £7.99, Sainsbury’s £7.

  1. Sancerre ‘La Reine Blanche’, Domaine Vacheron, 2015, 13.5%, Sauvignon Blanc

Soil has equal parts limestone and flint and at 40 hectares it’s one of the largest to harvest by hand.  Limestone contributes to the balanced acidity, flint helps to provide aromas and minerality. 2015 has a riper, rounder style but has freshness, steely backbone and palate length. “Bright and balanced” will keep to 2020. We tasted this in 2006, then priced at £11.95 and rated it 6.8/10. This evening the average rating was 8.5! Our palates or the wine must be improving but the price has increased faster than inflation! Best white wine of the night.

The Wine Society Sancerre’s: (3no.) from £13.50 to £16.50, Majestic (3no.) £ £12.49 to £14.39, Waitrose £19.99, Sainsbury’s £14.18

  1. Vouvray Moelleux ‘Noyer de Cent’, 2002, Chenin Blanc, 12.0%, £14.05

Chenin Blanc, (Pineau de la Loire) is believed to have originated in the Loire and is still the Loire’s signature grape. It is a vigourous grape with a tendency to bud early and ripen late making it sensitive to climate. It can range from dry (sec) to sweet (molleux). In exceptional years it can produce some of the finest longest lasting sweet wines. Vincent and Tania Carême established the property in 1999 and farm organically 14 hectares supplementing with local grapes to produce a negociant range alongside their domaine wines. Soils are classic tuffeau with some clay and flints in vineyards 300 feet above sea level. The ancient caves are handcut into the tuffeau cliffs overlooking the river.

This wine is described in its name as moelleux, attributed to its medium sweetness and has been aged for 15 years. The notes go on to say:  ‘This wine, from the fine 2002 vintage, notable for its refreshing backbone of acidity and resulting length on the palate tempers the wines sweetness. This mature parcel is in the old style and was too good to miss. Drink over the next year’.

This was certainly a pleasant interesting wine, a 15 year old white wine! With subtle fresh sweetness. Certainly went down well with quite a few members of the Club

Other Vouvrays: The Wine Society: Dry Vouvray £7.75, £25, moelleux £14.5, £25, £30, various to £345, Majestic; demi sec £8.99, Waitrose moelleux £9.99; Sainsbury’

Red wines are in the minority in the Loire but a combination of vastly improved husbandry and climate change are making these wines more and more attractive. Generally lighter bodied, refreshing and lower in alcohol than wines from the south of France.

  1. Cote Roannaise ‘Eclat de Granite’, Domaine Sérol, 2015, Gamay, 12.5%

Roanne is about 300km south of Orleans, on the Loire, close to the Beaujolais district. Domaine Serol is leading estate, situated on gentle slopes of sandy-granite soils, where gamay does very well. Serol consistently produces plump, fragrant reds, not dissimilar to Beaujolais Village but even brighter. Best served slightly chilled. Hedgerow fruit, raspberry and dark cherry with a long finish. In Touraine Gamay generally has less fruit and a slightly earthy character which is not unattractive but some may find it an acquired taste

In 2006, club tasted this, at £5.95 rated it 6/10. Now The Wine Society £9.50

  1. Reuilly rouge, ‘Les Pierres Plates’, Domaine Denis Jamain, 2015. Pinot noir.

A small but expanding Domaine which has 11 hectares of sauvignon blanc and 4 hectares of pinot noir.  Limestone clay soils, resembling those in Chablis, which contribute to wines stony and mineral character. The best vintage since 2009. silky, supple and fresh on palate, with cherry and redcurrant notes.Goes well with roast pork and chicken. The Vineyard started in 1935 and is now farmed organically.

The Wine Society £12.50

8.Chinon ‘Pierre de Tuf’, Domaine de la Noblaie, 2014, Cabernet Franc, 13.0%

Cabernet Franc is a black grape tending generally to be overshadowed by Cabernet Sauvignon but remains more important in the Loire as it is well suited to cool inland climates. It buds and matures a week earlier, easier to ripen fully and is less susceptible to poor weather during harvest. This example was vinified in a 15th Century limestone vat, hollowed out in a tuffeau cellar which allows a long, slow maceration, then matured in double barriques, which Jerome says “softens Chinon’s somewhat gruff exterior”! Compared with its offspring  Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc is regarded as being slightly lighter in colour and tannins light to medium  bodied with more immediate fruit than Cab Sav, with a marked fragrance including sometimes herbaceous aromas associated with unripe cab sav. Regarded as an ideal lunchtime red this wine is has intense black-cherry and floral aromas with a touch of pepper and spice, fine mineral core and refined tannins.  Can be drunk from now to 2024

The Wine Society 3no starting from £9.95, £10.95, £12.95 Waitrose Saumur-Champigny £12.99, Sainsburys  Chinon £7.

A great evening with great wines from the length of the Loire and a big thank you to Derek for his time researching and presenting the wines!

Meeting in the Village Hall between 20:00-22:00 the Club welcomes everyone who has an interest in wine no matter how small. We usually taste 4 white and 4 red wines per meeting which are small tasting measures so hangovers are avoided and being in the village no driving is required!. We try to cater for all tastes and the evening is also enjoyed as a village social to meet with other village residents. A membership of around 60 we average 32 to most meetings and always welcome new members from the village so if you’ve wondered about joining us, please contact me, an existing member or anyone from the committee for more details. You are very welcome to try with your first meeting as a guest. The more the merrier!

The club’s regular meetings continue on the third Wednesday of each

Subject to final confirmation, we intend to enjoy:

 15th March: Blind Tasting.

 19th April: Food and Wine Pairing.

Cheers!

Kevin Jacklin, Secretary

01235 851404

Wine Club try the Local Supermarkets

Having pushed the boat out for the December tasting, at which members enjoyed wines ranging from Premier Cru Chablis to Twenty-year-old Tawny Port, January saw members of Upton’s Wine Club tighten their collective belts (and mix their metaphors) as we turned to research the more modestly priced wines of local budget supermarkets.

Eight wines were tasted, all priced at less than £10 a bottle and all selected from what was available on the day of my visit to our nearest Aldi and Lidl supermarkets. Both supermarkets are actively promoting their wines, a fair proportion of which have won awards. Indeed, a recent (wotwine?) survey concluded that Lidl and Aldi were the best supermarkets to buy wines that represented value for money. Would our members agree?

Lidl’s Franciacorta, essentially Brescia’s answer to Champagne, showed well but members thought it would face stiff competition from the many Spanish Cava available at a similar price. Aldi’s Clare Valley Riesling was broadly true to the expectations of the variety, with a hint of the lime that typifies Rieslings from this hilly district to the north of Adelaide, but lacked the extract of higher quality examples. Lidl’s Godello impressed, perhaps for the novelty of this lesser known grape, while Aldi’s Gavi won broad approval as a reliable staple. Three reds were shown, of which Aldi’s Barolo made an impression for being a tried and tested (DOCG) wood-aged wine typically associated with much higher prices. Lidl’s Monbazillac provided a sweet treat to round off the evening, perhaps lacking the admired botrytis character of the fine sweet wines of the region but enjoyable none-the-less and a fraction of the price of Sauternes.

We now look forward to February’s meeting, at which Derek Whitmell will lead us on an exploration of France’s Loire valley. If you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier. Or follow us online @UptonWine.

Cheers!

William Betts, Chair

Wine Club Push the Boat Out

“Pushing the Boat Out”

As is traditional for the Club this time of year the committee sourced a selection of wines of various  styles to be enjoyed with foods eaten over the Christmas festivities and pushed the budget to approximately £20.00 a bottle; and as always this proved a very popular evening with 40 people our highest attendance of the year so far which made for a very lively evening. Frankie began the evening introducing a Champagne (with Royal Warrant) – G. H. MUMM Cordon Rouge NV (Waitrose £33.50 750ml) and one of the best and well known English Sparkling Wines a Nyetimber Classic Cuvee NV – (Waitrose £32.99 750ml) matched with homemade roasted / salted almonds, olives and mini cheese straws. The Nyetimber held its own against the Mumm with its fine bubbles and toasty spicy slightly baked apple taste.  Frankie did take advantage of the 25% off wine deal offered by Waitrose at the time of buying the wines.

Sue chose to talk about a classic French Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2013 William Fevre (Majestic £23.40 750ml) on her debut as a speaker (and a great job she did too!) and prepared salmon blinis to match. David described Richard Kershaw MW Richard’s Elgin Chardonnay 2015 from a cool climate area of South Africa (Naked Wines £24.99/ Angel price £13.99 750ml) paired with Epoisses cheese and crackers.

Ian’s wines were a French and New Zealand Pinot Noir. A Saint Clair Pioneer Block Pinot Noir 2015 Marlborough (£18.99/£16.99 750ml) was first followed by the Beaune 1er Cru ‘Les Toussaints’ 2010 Albert Morot (£25.00/£22.50 750ml) paired with mushroom pate (to match the tertiary notes of the wines we were told) and duck pate.

Finally we came to the Dessert wines. A Rutherglen Muscat from North East Victoria Australia Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Rutherglen Muscat (Naked Wines £17.99/ Angel price £12.99 500ml) described as “Sweet, syrupy, raisiny, yummy goodness in a glass” and a William Pickering, 20-Year-Old, Tawny Port (Berry Brothers and Rudd £28.00 750ml) paired with stilton and chocolate brownies. The port with the chocolate brownies seemed to be the most popular combination!

Meeting in the Village Hall between 20:00-2200 the Club welcomes everyone who has an interest in wine no matter how small. We usually taste 4 white and 4 red wines per meeting which are small tasting measures so hangovers are avoided and being in the village no driving is required!. We try to cater for all tastes and the evening is also enjoyed as a village social to meet with other village residents.

Although we have a membership of 60 members and attract an average of 32 to most meetings we always welcome new members from the village so if you’ve wondered about joining us, please contact me, an existing member or anyone from the committee for more details. You are very welcome to try with your first meeting as a guest. The more the merrier!

The club’s regular meetings continue on the third Wednesday of each month

Subject to final confirmation, we intend to enjoy:

– 18th January: Lidl/Aldi Tasting. Presenter-Will Betts. £5.00

– 22nd February: Loire Valley. Presenter-Derek Whitmell. £7.50

Finally have a Happy New Year and hope to see you in January

Cheers!

Kevin Jacklin, Secretary

Wine Club turn to the Iberian Peninsula

November saw the wine club turn to the Iberian Peninsula. Discovered by the Greeks as they ventured west, the peninsula incorporates Spain and Portugal as well as Andorra, Gibraltar and a small section of southeast France. In terms of wine production, it’s a fascinating and diverse region – Spain may lay claim to the largest area planted to vines of any country in the world, but other countries make more wine. Yields have traditionally been low, because there was little pressure for intensive production and irrigation was traditionally outlawed. And wow, does it make a variety of interesting wines.

Starting with a Portuguese Vinho Verde, with a characteristic spritzy prickle, we also sampled whites including an Albariño from Rias Baixas, a Sauvignon from Rueda and a Parellada (normally used as a constituent of Cava) in the form of Viña Sol from Torres.

Moving to the reds, I was delighted to be able to share a very decent crianza Ribero del Duero and a little known Priorat from the schistous llicorella slopes of Tarragona. Finally, we enjoyed a sweet treat in the form of Banyuls from the French Pyrenees.

We now look forward to December’s meeting, at which we extend the budget to show some high quality wines. Next year, we will be looking at wines from local merchants (at different price points), wines of the Loire and blind tasting. If you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier. Or follow us online, @UptonWine.

Cheers!

William Betts, Chair

Wine Club Sample Wines from South America

Our October meeting was presented by the double act David and Ian who gave us a tour of wines from South America as it is believed that the quality of wine from that region is increasing and there is still good value even with the diminishing pound against other currencies after Brexit.

Ian introduced the white and rose wines beginning with the Errazuriz Wild Fermented Chardonnay (Majestic £12.99), Vinalba Torrontes (Majestic £9.99) Hey Malbec Rose (Majestic £9.99) and a Morande Gewurztraminer (Majestic £8.99).

The Torrontes seemed to please most of the members and the label on the rose was a sight to behold! Not sure if it would make you buy the wine or avoid it!

David started the reds with a Beefsteak Malbec (Waitrose £6.59) which did exactly as it said on the bottle. A malbec to go with a good steak. Next was the Norton Reserve Malbec (Waitrose £8.99) which was a step up from the Beefsteak followed by the Ben Marco Malbec (Majestic £14.99) went to the next level and finally the Mendel Mendoza (Majestic £22.99) a Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon blend which was the wine of the evening.

All the reds were from the Mendoza area where they are grown at height (3000 -3500 metres) where they receive plenty of sunshine which aids ripening cool moist air from the Pacific and semi-arid desert condition which are irrigated by melt water from the Andes. I’m sure a well hung Argentinian steak was mention in the description of one of the wines.

We now look forward to November’s meeting, at which our Chairman Will Betts will be showing wines from the Iberian Peninsula. There may be an unusual wine or two!

If you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier.

The club’s regular meetings continue on the third Wednesday of each month with the exception of December which is the second week. Subject to final confirmation, we intend to enjoy:

 16 November: Wines from the Iberian Peninsula. Will Betts

 14 December: Pushing the Boat Out/Special Occasion Wines. Committee Members (Don’t forget this meeting is one week earlier and will be £12.50).

 

Cheers!

Kevin Jacklin, Secretary

Wine Club AGM

As the first event of the new season, September’s Wine Club meeting commenced with the annual AGM. The formalities were kept brief and, in keeping with club tradition, accompanied by a glass of wine – Carlo Zucchetto’s Prosecoo Puro Fol had the honours of being the first wine shown this year

The existing committee was re-elected with one change – while we are sad to lose Ellie Bunstrom from the committee, we hope to see her at as many future events as her new role will allow, and we warmly welcome Susan Ryan.

The tasting of four white and four red wines was well received and lively, and we look forward to putting together a programme of events using ideas suggested by members. We are also very fortunate to have enthusiastic members willing and able to talk knowledgeably wine varieties and regions.

While the programme for this season is being decided, we look to maintain the diversity and interest of last year’s events which included:

– Wines available from local supermarkets

– Brian and Giulia Rippon presenting wines available from their company – Strictly Wine

– Katie Jones presenting her own wines from the Languedoc Roussillon

– Food and wine pairings

– Italian wines presented by Lee Isaacs of Wine Traders

– Wines from Australia, presented by our original chairman, Mike Collins

If you’d like to learn more about the wines and food from this event, or previous wine club events, then you might like to follow us on Twitter @UptonWine. Alternatively, if you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier!

Cheers

William Betts, Chair

Upton Wine Club -Summer BBQ

Saturday 26th June saw the last event in this season’s UWC, the Summer BBQ.  It marked the end of another 10 great monthly meetings which produced a fine blend of both member and guest talks on some fine wines from around the world.

Not dampened by the wet weather, 40 or so members and guests enjoyed some fine burgers and bangers cooked to perfection by Matt, accompanied by the plentiful supply of salads, rice dishes and cheeses bought by the members.   Plenty of wine was consumed on the evening but those worthy of a mention were the Porta 6 2013 Lisboa (£7.49 on multi buy from Majestic) and the White Burgundy (£8.99 from Waitrose – often on offer!)  Both good Summer BBQ drinks.  All went well with some great tunes supplied by Pete!

Most people will know that Ellie and Matt who have supported the UWC as committee member and chief cook for a number of years will shortly be moving to Herefordshire.   Whilst I am sure this will not be the last wine club meeting we will see them at on behalf of all our members I would like to say a huge thank you for all your help and support and we all wish you well.

Enjoy your Summer break and we hope you have a happy holiday.  We will be back again in September, so please look out for your renewal forms for next season.  If anyone  has yet to try a visit to one of our wine (social) evenings then please drop Ian Langley a note with your details at Barn Acre, Stream Road and come try an evening as our Guest!

Ian Langley

Wine Club Committee Members Pair Wine with Food.

May’s Wine Club meeting was the final tasting event of this calendar year, before June’s barbeque celebrates another year of events well-received by members and their guests.

In a departure from the norm of a single speaker presenting wines chosen according to a particular theme, members of the committee were asked to chose and present some of their favourite pairings of wine and food. Thus we were treated to combinations including Manzanilla to accompany tapas; Premier Cru Champagne with crab amuse-bouches; Roussanne with pork rillettes;  Porta 6 with barbequed sausages; Primitivo with meatballs and two sweet wines (2001 Chateau de Madere and H&H Malvasia Madeira) with salty blue stilton. Yes, several members were heard to lament their decision to eat beforehand!

If you’ld like to learn more about the wines and food from this event, or previous wine club events, then you might like to follow us on Twitter @UptonWine. Alternatively, if you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier!

Cheers

William Betts, Chair

Wine Matters at the Wine Club

March saw the return of a perennial favourite, Lee Isaacs  of Wine Matters, who presented wines from Italy.

As an experienced and highly qualified wine educator, Lee explained Italy’s importance as a wine producer; Italy regularly ranks first or second (to France) in lists of the world’s largest producers of wine. In context, this means that Italy’s million vineyards are responsible for about one third of global wine production. Always engaging and amusing, Lee then led us through an overview of the history of wine production in Italy and a tour of the modern appellation system, shedding welcome light on terms including IGP, DOC, DOCG and Classico with the aid of some wonderful slides displayed (with thanks to Brian R.) by means of UVHAT’s projector

In terms of value, given a £7.50 ticket price, the club was very pleased that Lee could act as guide to some of the idiosyncrasies of Italian wines explaining, for example, the link between the fine minerality of Lugana Ghiraldi and the Trebbiano di Lugana grape, which is really Verdicchio! We tasted a genuine Lambrusco – not to everybody’s taste, but a rare beast redolent of cola and a perfect foil for the meats of Modena. Very generously, and to unanimous approval, Lee then went on to treat us to fine Chianti, a Taurasi DOCG (a world-class red from Campania) and a Cannubi Barolo retailing at over £50 a bottle.

We now look forward to April’s meeting, at which we will welcome Katie Jones, an experienced winemaker from the Languedoc in France. If you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier.

As we near the end of our season, the club’s regular meetings continue on the third Wednesday of each month. Subject to final confirmation, we intend to enjoy:

 20 April: A flying visit from winemaker, Katie Jones, from the Languedoc in France.

 18 May: Your committee presenting some of their favourite food and wine matches.

25 June: The annual club BBQ

 

Cheers!

William Betts, Chair

Wine Club looks at Wines from Australia

February saw one of our favourite speakers, Mike Collins (village resident and founding Chair of Upton’s Wine Appreciation Club), return to present wines from Australia.

Mike explained that Australia is a significant exporter of wine worldwide, both in bulk and bottle, with the UK representing Australia’s second most important market by value after the US. Having reassured us that Australia is experiencing strongest growth in the export of premium and ultra-premium bottled wines, Mike then settled to the arduous task of leading us in tasting a carefully conceived selection of whites and reds. With wine produced in every state, from an impressive selection of grape varieties, grown on different soil types and benefitting from a range of topographies, we were introduced to Eden Valley Riesling (a personal favourite for its vitality, extract and punchy lime notes) and Barossa Semillon (still too often underrated and overlooked as a pure varietal). Cool climate Tasmanian Chardonnay was well received, before we moved on to taste four reds including an exceptional Victoria Shiraz from the Wine Society and a massive Shiraz / Mourvedre blend produced by the ever-reliable Penfolds wine company.

If you’ve wondered about joining us, please do contact an existing member or anyone from the committee – you’re very welcome to try your first meeting as a guest, and the more the merrier.

Looking ahead, our meetings continue on the third Wednesday of each month. Subject to final confirmation, we intend to enjoy:

 16 March: Popular visiting wine professional, Lee Isaacs, introducing wines from Italy.

 20 April: A flying visit from winemaker, Katie Jones, from the Languedoc in France.

 18 May: Your committee presenting some of their favourite food and wine matches.

Cheers!

William Betts, Chair