Blended Wines at the Wine Club

15th September marked the beginning of the Wine Club year with 36 members signing up for the evening, which kicked off with the AGM. Our Chairman Ian gave thanks to Ros Caffyn who has resigned from the committee (albeit she will continue to assist), and Brian Rippon was voted on.

The theme of the evening was blended wines, and members were treated during the AGM to a glass of Pinord Seleccion Brut Cava (Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada grapes), a light sparkling with refreshing citrus notes.

The first wine was an interesting and popular Italian white from Puglia, a Paolo Leo ‘Renèe Bianco Organic’ by Majestic. A blend of Chardonnay, Fiano and Sauvignon Blanc, the tropical fruit notes made it a good summer drinking wine. We followed with a Portuguese Selected Harvest White , available from Majestic or Strictly Wine, from the Santo Isidro de Pegões cooperative on the Setúbal peninsula near Lisbon – good with food, a full flavoured wine with aromas of orange blossom and fresh fruits which worked in harmony with the oak spice. This pushed the blends to the limits with no fewer than five varieties, Fernão Pires, Antão Vaz, Verdelho, Arinto and Chardonnay.

The final white, also from Majestic, was the St Cosme ‘Micro Cosme’ Sauvignon-Viognier from the Rhône valley – aromatic and refreshing, with notes of apricot, lychee, grapefruit and mango.

The reds started with a wine found in most of the supermarkets, on offer at £7. ’19 Crimes Red’ by Treasury Wine Estates topped the list in a recent survey as the UK’s favourite supermarket wine, also the UK’s number one millennial wine brand. “It’s a taste you’ll never forget”, says the website, and some members agreed, preferring a little less sugar in their wine. Members heard about the app which brings the label to life when you point your phone at the bottle; the cash prizes for finding special corks, and the pop-up 19 Crimes tattoo parlour in London offering free tattoos…

The tone became a little more serious with a Buzet from Strictly Wine, ‘Sans’ without added sulphites. A Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from south-west France, it represented a good value option to similar Bordeaux wines a bit further down the Garonne river. This was followed by a Strictly Wine Rhône red – an opulent unoaked Grenache/Syrah/ Mourvèdre (GSM) from Domaine Combe Julière in Rasteau.

Members then heard about some of the challenges facing the wine industry, including global problems with shipping and haulage not to mention delays with customs clearance. Frost, hail, mildew, and fire damage have resulted in the worst French harvest in 50 years, while the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc harvest is 20-30% down at the same time as global demand has dramatically increased. In consequence this most popular of wine varieties will become more expensive and harder to find in the coming months.

The evening finished with a lovely Ribera del Duero Reserva (also Majestic) from the Bardos winery. This is a high altitude blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, with complex notes of dark fruit, chocolate and vanilla spice, a perfect end to a most enjoyable evening.

You can find details of future meetings and membership at www.uptonwineclub.com.

Ian Langley