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:  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  (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 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 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!


Wine and Cheese at the Wine Club

The theme of March’s Wine Club meeting was the ever-popular Wine and Cheese (via the Pangbourne Cheese Shop) pairing.

We had 4 Uptonites each sharing a couple of their favourite wine+cheese pairings, and a very delicious evening it was!  Pairings included:

  • a blushing pink New Zealand fizz with a lovely (and fat-free, if you don’t count the cream, double cream and crème fraiche ingredients) Delice de Cremiere from Burgundy.
  • a Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux matched with a, in the words of the presenter, “not at all dungy” Crottin goats cheese (judging by the reaction in the room, a definite Marmite item – I loved it)
  • a different, but nonetheless delicious Greek white against, what else, a rich Feta
  • a very drinkable Italian red from Verona married up with a rich Grana Padano cheese from the “heel” of Italy
  • a full-bodied Argentinian Malbec and a no-nonsense aged cheddar
  • a second succulent Italian red, this time from the south of the peninsula and complemented by a very well received, tomato leaf wrapped Pecorino cheese
  • a silky and absolutely mouth-watering Royal Tokaji (a personal fave, can you tell?) offset against a Montagnolo (a deceptively named, but gorgeous German blue cheese)
  • a lovely organic port paired with a powerful, but smooth and creamy Spanish blue cheese.

All-in-all a gastronomic night had by all !

You can find more info on these wines on our Twitter page, @UptonWine, as well as on our brand-new web

Also, as a group of confirmed wine-ophiles (as opposed to wino-philes) we are really keen to spread the word as far and wide as physically possible (within Upton) and want to know what interests YOU.  To this end we’ve created an online survey to find out your positive and not-so-positive feedback.  If you have any opinion at all on the subject please do let us know here: and (unlike many politicians) we will listen.

Next Outing is on 18th April at 8.00pm when Majestic will be inundating us with a fab selection of great Spring wines.  Give it a go, you know you want to!

If you decide to come along please do let us know so we can be sure we have enough to go around.  You can contact us here:

@UptonWine  /  /



Wine Club go Brazilian

For the sixth (pretty full) meeting of the season, it was our unique opportunity to discover wines from Brazil. I have to confess I didn’t even know there was such a thing until our meeting, as I’ve never seen Brazilian wine in the supermarket. We normally associate Brazil with coffee or maybe sugar or chocolate, not wine, but not anymore!

We met Nicholas Corfe from Go Brazil Wines He was a very engaging and amusing speaker and with much enthusiasm gave us a run through of some really interesting and unusual wines across a spectrum of different types, producers, vintages and grapes.

The whites included a champagne method fizz, a Riesling, a Moscato, and a Chardonnay. Although quite different from their European counterparts, with some really interesting aromas and flavours, there was definitely evidence of European influence.

The reds included a Teroldego and two Pizzatos, one a riserva that was 13 years old and one a very special gran riserva that was a mere 9 years old. Nicholas described the Teroldego as very “gluggable”. He wasn’t wrong, I found my glass empty within a matter of minutes and I don’t think I was alone.

Maybe some of these wines divided the room.  Some people loved some of them and some loved others but they were all worthy of great respect: Classy wines, well balanced and with some unusual and subtle flavours.

Nicholas also talked us through pairings with food and so we tried our selection of nibbles against each wine reserving some of our cold meats for the final two weighty reds. The star of the food though has to be Frankie’s Brazilian cheese bread – absolutely delicious. Frankie said it was not difficult to make although I suspect she was being modest!

For more details of the wines sampled, please go to Twitter @UptonWine.

Go Brazil Wines is offering each wine to Upton residents at a discount for any orders in the near future. If you are interested in placing an order please speak to any member of the Wine Committee.

Another great night! Thanks to all involved in the organisation of a very enjoyable and fun evening.

If you would like to come along to the next meeting on 21st March 8pm, we will have another hopefully inspiring evening.   Please don’t forget to book!  Everyone is very welcome.   If you’ve never been before, please give it a try.  We would love to see you! Any enquiries, please contact Ian at




Wine Club’s Christmas Meeting

It was actually a bitterly cold, squalling night in Upton, the sort of night where you really don’t want to venture out to a (great) party….a night where the TV remote control and cosy fireside and/or slippers  feel much more tempting.     However, in the warm glow of the village hall, a large friendly Upton crowd arrived for the annual Upton Wine Club Christmas Meeting.

If you haven’t been before, this is a highlight of the Wine Club Calendar. For a little more than the average sub (still top value at £10), we walked through a re-enactment of Christmas Day with a delicious mini version of our Christmas festive food with some fantastic accompanying wines but no argumentative rellies!!

Overall the wines were carefully chosen to complement the food, splashing out a little but still all being excellent value. Everything from sparkling wine with brunch, to both white and red choices for Christmas lunch and some great dessert and cheese wines.

I felt it was a very good opportunity to work out exactly what wines went with what and to make a note of some very good wines if you fancy a treat at Christmas.   The Committee speakers gave us some vital statistics and an insight into the pairing, enough to be both interesting and help guide us through.

Of course, if you’re not “doing Christmas” this year, it didn’t matter as it was a very lively, fun evening with everyone chatting as we wandered around the room taking in the atmosphere.   When the full hall lights came on at clearing up time, there was a distinctive groan from the crowd.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 17th January where our guest speaker will be Tim North presenting “Joie de Vin” – a look at wines the French usually keep for themselves – artisan wines from small producers.

By then, I know it may well be even colder and more squalling and the fireside may look even more appealing but remember there will be a group of friendly Uptonites in the warm village hall ready to sample another 8 fab wines (with delicious nibbles) and a lot of fun company, all in for the bargain price of £5 AND no need to drive home!   If you haven’t been before, please get in touch with us…..we’re a very welcoming and friendly bunch and we would love to see you!


Book a place for January by dropping off the fee with (soon to be emailed) slip to any of the Committee or by emailing Frankie and transferring the fee by online transfer.


Ian                                                   Barnacre, Stream Road

Kevin  or Frankie                          The Cottage, Reading Road

David                                                Netherbrook, Churc

Susan                                               8 Fieldside

Nick                                                 4 Alexander Close

Ros                                                  Littlecote, High Street

For more wine and meeting details please see Twitter @UptonWine

A Tour of Italy for the Wine Club

Eight generously proportioned “tastings” of gorgeous Italian wines, oodles of delicious nibbles and all while learning about the origins of screw cap bottles and the most pungent chemical known to humankind.  What more could you want for only £5 per head!

In case you’re wondering, this was the great night out experienced by all those devotees who came along to the Upton Wine Club on Wednesday 15th November at the Upton Village Hall, where Brian Rippon of Strictly Wine (our friendly neighbourhood wine merchant) gave a first class evening of practical education on all things Italian wine.

The wines tasted came from all over Italy, covering a range of wine types from chilling-in-the-sun-with-friends whites, through lively sparkling wines, award winning, mouth watering reds, to a succulent but light (5%) wine to go with Italian desserts of all kinds.

Brian also took us on an exhilarating tour of the country and the vineyards, explaining the techniques used at each, the grape varieties grown (of which there are several hundred), the terrain (stunning) and the history.

We also had a whistle-stop tour of what causes a wine to taste corked and how different bottle stopping methods have been invented in attempts to improve how well wines keep in the bottle, together with what effects this year’s adverse weather conditions around the globe have had on levels of wine production (stock up!).

For those desperate to know, here are the wines, with a few tasting notes, which we tried on the night:

Colomba Bianca Zibibbo Vitese 2016
Notes of white peach and dried apricot combine with soft floral aromatics and finishing on a peppery note.  12.5% ABV: Zibibbo 100%
Pignoletto Colli d’Imola Frizzante 2016
A delicately floral bouquet and a crisp, refreshing flavour. A cross between Pinot Grigio and Prosecco in style, slightly sparkling.   11.5% ABV: Pignoletto 100%
Falanghina Albente Feudi di San Gregorio 2016
Steely lime and lemon flavours with a lively and mouthwatering finish. 12.5% ABV: Falanghina 100%
Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 2016 Tramin
Rich, full and dry. Ripe melon notes and a good mineral character through to a long, persistent finish.   13.5% ABV: Pinot Grigio 100%
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Feudi d’Albe 2015 Bove
A soft but full-flavoured wine packed with gorgeous forest fruit flavours and notes of liquorice.   12.5% ABV: Montepulciano 100%
Tenuta di Castiglioni Toscana 2014 Frescobaldi
Oaky notes with flavours of cherry and coffee through to a smooth and full finish.
13% ABV: Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 30%, Cabernet Franc 10%, Sangiovese 10%
Collezione Cinquante San Marzano Vino Rosso
A big and fleshy wine with loads of chocolate and spice flavours, smooth and very long. Delicious.   14.5% ABV: Negroamaro 50%, Primitivo 50%
Michele Chiarlo Palás Moscato d’Asti 2016
A fresh, fruity and elegant bouquet with the sweetness balanced by a citrus edge and a slight petillance.   5% ABV: Muscat of Alexandria 100%

A lively and fun evening was had by all and all for the price of a glass of plonk at the local.

The next event will be on 13th December at 8pm, in the Village Hall, where we will be attempting to offer suggestions for wines to help make it through the joys and the tribulations of Christmas Day, from breakfast to nightcap.   The price will be £10 per head (these will be gooood wines) and you can reserve your place(s) by using the flyer that dropped through your letterbox recently or contacting Ian Langley on 850793 or

See you there!

Nick Thackray

Wine Club Pair Food with Wines

Wednesday 18th October saw the UWC hold a food and wine pairing evening at the village hall. Wine and food paring can be a little daunting but in a very informal setting we had a lot of fun looking at some typical characteristics of wine including sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol levels etc and matching them with some food you may enjoy at a dinner party.

The results were fantastic!   Eight wines were tasted, which were paired with the following foods:

Starter: Thai spiced salad was matched with a Leckford English Sparkling Brut 2013, a great aperitif or sparkling wine that cleansed the palate after every mouthful.  We also tried a Riesling called Staatliche Weinbau Domane Oppenheim 2013, which had wonderful depth and was light in alcohol which complimented the spice really well.

Main: To match a hearty beef stew we tried a white oaked chardonnay 2015 from a grower in Argentina called Rutini, unusual for a red meat, but for anyone not a fan of red wine the oaked flavour worked really well with a “heavy” meal.  More traditionally we tried La Grange des Comes, 2015 St-Chinian-Roquebrun, a great French red form the Languedoc region that works really well if you make a stew with spices such as sage, rosemary and thyme.

Cheese: To match a soft camembert style cheese from France called Mont D’or we paired a white Savagnin-Domaine Jean Louis Tissot 2012 and a read Saint-Pourcain “La Ficelle” Rouge 2016.   The white was sherry like in style, which often divides opinion but an excellent example of matching food with local wine.  The red was good wine to go with most soft cheeses.

Dessert: Matching a wonderful cherry and amaretto cake we looked for something sweet, following the typical rule of pairing a wine sweeter than your dessert.  We matched it with a Monbazillac Rech la Calevie 2013  and a Moscato d’asti, Elio Perrone 2016, both great wines that went down very well.

Next month’s meeting is at 8.00pm on the 15th November at the village hall where Brian from Upton’s Strictly Wine will be talking about wines from Italy.  If you enjoy wine and want to come along to try some new varieties in a very relaxed environment then please give Ian a call on 850793.

Ian Langley

Wine Club Members Present Significant Wines

Upton’s Wine Appreciation Club final tasting of the year in May saw members of the club presenting wines that were significant to them.

A Cremant d’Alsace provided a sparkling start to the evening, followed by a sauvignon blanc and a Verdicchio accompanied by evocative tales of life in an Italian village beset by the occasional earthquake. A dry Tokaji allowed its presenter to reminisce widely and amusingly on a range of subjects from the volcanic wines of the Canary Islands to high quality German fizz which never makes the export market. Reds included a Costieres de Nimes from Aldi and a brazen Barossa Valley Shiraz. But the final wine was a real mystery – an intensely aromatic red, infused with quinine and with significant residual sugar, called Byrrh Grand Quinquina. Definitely something I’ll be considering as we move into mosquito season in South Oxfordshire!

This fun and friendly event, drawing on the interests and enthusiasm of our members, provided a fitting conclusion to the year’s tastings. We now have the annual club barbecue to look forward to in June, before our annual sabbatical. Looking forward to next season, if you would like to enjoy a glass of wine in convivial surroundings, perhaps learning a bit along the way, then why not join us? We meet in the Village Hall, and welcome everyone with an interest in wine. We usually taste four white and four red wines per meeting – small tasting measures, so as to avoid any deleterious effects! We try to cater for all tastes and recognise that club evenings are also enjoyed as a village social and chance to meet with other village residents. With a membership of around 60 villagers, we regularly welcome more than 30 to each meeting and make a special effort to welcome new members from the village. If you’re interested, you are very welcome to come along to your first meeting as a guest. The more the merrier!

William Betts