2018 Wine Appreciation Archive

Update December 2018
After our very enjoyable annual jaunt to Wadebridge Wines Christmas Tasting we have yet another outing planned for the start of 2019. On Monday 28th January we will have a tasting at the recently opened Wine Store in Charlestown. Once again the Lerryn minibus will be used to enable us all to enjoy a tipple or two. The tasting will cost £25 per head plus a small fee for the use of the minibus. If you have not yet confirmed your place with Lindsay please do so asap.

Update 31st October 2018

At our October Meeting Christine chose Vegan Wines as the topic for the afternoon.

Quoting from the Wine Society website:- 

"Winemakers often choose to 'fine' their wines before release. This process can help soften a wine but also removes any potential haze that may appear in bottle.  Because proteins are involved in the process, winemakers might use isinglass derived from fish guts, animal gelatine or egg whites, all of which gather together the solids in the wine that would otherwise make it cloudy. The solids along with the clarifying agent are then all removed so are classed as a 'processing aid' rather than an ingredient. At most, only trace amounts of the fining agent will be left in the finished wine.

To produce a wine suitable for vegetarians or vegans, winemakers can avoid using fining agents altogether and produce a wine with more sediment or can use bentonite, which is a clay-based substance and works well for clarifying many wines."

 The  first wine we  tasted was from Marks and Spencer  a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with a very unusual label which was designed by illustrator Daisy Fletcher.  Called Colour Me Sauvignon Blanc, consumers are  encouraged to colour in the plain label having drunk the bottle, and then post an image on social media for the chance to win a magnum of Prosecco.The wine which is  priced at £8, is described as ‘crisp, fruity and fresh’ with top notes of gooseberry, lime and passion fruit.

Next we tried a Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017,  purchased from Lostwithiel Co-Op for £7-50. Leyda Valley is a pretty special place for Sauvignon Blanc in Chile - the vineyards lie around 7km inland from the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean and are served with near-perfect growing conditions. The Co-op website advises that the taste is  a "melange of ripe gooseberries cut with a rapier-like rasp of lime and mouth-watering lemon citrus."

The final vegan wine sampled was again purchased from Marks and Spencer, a 2017 Domain de Mandeville Viognier costing £9.  According to the website "A ripe, fruity wine with the distinctive, exotic note of fresh peaches that has made the Viognier grape famous. This wine is soft, rounded and dry."

Thanks to Christine for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Finally, as we were on the point of leaving, much to the amusement of everyone present  Linden revealed her magic Harry Potter jumper!


Next Meeting
The visit to Wadebridge Wines will take place on 21st November. This event is now fully booked.

Update 24th September 2018
Linden kindly hosted our monthly tasting for September, and she chose a theme of "memories". Each of these were wines which she had tasted with members of her family over many years and she had now found them available at local supermarkets.

We started with a Sainsbury Taste the Difference Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie 2017 (£7.50). Sainsbury's website told us to expect "crisp, green apple flavours, underpinned by mineral notes give this dry white a refreshing bite. Made by Pierre Lieubeau, one of Muscadet’s top producers, this zippy wine is made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes. These vines are grown on the finest schist and granite slopes of the western Loire Valley which provide this wine with its mineral, flinty notes. With its light natural spritz this tangy white wine is perfect to enjoy with seafood and shellfish." We all felt it did what it said on the bottle and was a very pleasant wine, particularly with the delicious prawns and smoked salmon which Linden served.

Our second white was a Chablis Premièr Cru Brocard (£18). Again from Sainsbury we were told "Famille Brocard has created this excellent wine from grapes produced in the Chablis Premier Cru vineyards of Northern Burgundy. The Chardonnay grapes reach full ripeness here and the resulting wine has the classic, floral aromas of Premier Cru Chablis with delicious citrus and mineral flavours on the finish. Served lightly chilled, it tastes best with fish, poultry or goat's cheese." Another crowd pleaser but a few of us debated the value of wines at this price versus the £10 mark.

As for the red wine we moved to Italy for a Principesco Brunello di Montalcino (£18). The web told us that "Principesco Brunello di Montalcino is an elegant, full-bodied wine made of 100% Sangiovese grapes from Montalcino. On the nose it shows intense aromas of blackberries and cherries." This wine was clearly of excellent quality being particularly smooth. Linden, however, felt that a wine of this region which she had had before was superior so we tried it out! 

Waitrose sell Poggio Landi Brunello Di Montalcino (£29.99). The tell us "The ultimate expression of Sangiovese from an iconic winery. Savour intense red fruit with hints of liquorice, spice and leather on the nose, which are carried through on the dense, velvety palate. Fantastic with game or wild mushroom dishes." This one split the jury with some preferring the previous wine but others reaching for more of this one!

Another lovely afternoon during which we tasted some delicious wine and debated topics ranging from the need for a footbridge over the railway in Lostwithiel, to the dangers of fracking, the likelihood of a volcano erupting in Iceland, and the one time dual nationality status of Boris Johnson. What better way to finish the month of September!


Update 27th August 2018
Sadly the summer had briefly left us so we were unable to enjoy yet another al fresco tasting for our bank holiday special. Although we retreated indoors we enjoyed a taste of sunshine by focussing on rose wines this month.

We started with a delightful rose prosecco La Gioiosa et Amorosa Rosea Spumante from Waitrose (on offer at £7.99). Made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grapes by La Gioiosa, one of Italy's leading producers of Prosecco, this  wine takes its name from an ancient local saying, ‘marca gioiosa et amorosa’, meaning ‘march with joy and love’. A friendly fizz designed for joyous occasions and for sharing with friends and relaxed foods. Thumbs up all round for this one - most of us guessed that it cost more than it actually did.

For the still wines we moved to France. Firstly Calvet Sancerre Rosé from Waitrose on offer at £11.99. Classically light, fresh and bright Sancerre Rosé vinified from very good Pinot Noir stock. With a rose petal colour, this wine reveals a complex bouquet with rich aromas of small red fruits. Round and mellow palate with a lovely fresh and lingering finish. Again deemed a hit by all of us and worth the money.

Next up was a new star on the block. A wine from Provence made by a British expat who moved to France to follow his dream of making wine. Mirabeau Pure Provence Rosé also from Waitrose (£13.99), a blend of Grenache 60% and Syrah 40%. Pure Mirabeau is a wine made from some of the highest vineyards in the Côtes de Provence. The website waxes lyrical - "Very pale, delicate violet pink with a hint of salmon weaving through the colour spectrum. Strawberry notes appear first closely followed by raspberries and white cherries. Then a merest whisper of that most elegant of fruits, rhubarb. The acidity is crisp and integrated and the generous fruit provides an element of texture that enables this wine to be drunk as an aperitif as well as with food."

Victoria Moore, The Telegraph Wine Critic had praised this wine " (Pure)...is the more elegant sibling (of Mirabeau Côtes de Provence Rosé), sheer in both colour and taste, one of those wines you want to hold up to the light. Its flavours are more elusive. The strawberries in there are wild and fleeting, there are fresh herbs too, a glory of a pale wine. "
The website suggested that the wine went well with charcuterie so we tried it out and all agreed it added even more depth of flavour to the wine. we all enjoyed the wine but doubted we would pay that for the bottle (thankfully Mr Waitrose had provided some money off vouchers so we were able to enjoy the wine at a discount of 25%!)

Finally, just to compare Europe with the New World we threw in a Chilean rose  - Riversong Rose from Laithwaites (£9.49), a blend including Cabernet & Shiraz. The website claims a lemony, creamy with bright, ripe berry fruit aroma with tongue tingling lemony vitality piercing the summer berry notes. Again unanimously we felt this was over-hyped and not as good as the previous wines that day.

So rose wines were given a thumbs up from the group. We felt that the French rose wines which we taste these days had progressed significantly from a decade ago.


Update 30th July 2018
The grey clouds briefly threatened our record breaking attempt of three months in a row of outside meetings but we shook off any doubts and enjoyed another lovely afternoon good wine, food and company.

Nick and Jo had recently returned from Provence so we were treated to some of the delicious produce they had brought back with them. The lavender, however, was harvested from Jo's beautiful garden which was the backdrop to our afternoon.

Nick first served us a Cotes du Rhone by Rives & Terrasses which is made from the Grenache blanc grape. A crisp, fruity white was a great way to kick off the proceedings and it was given a unanimous thumbs up by the group. To accompany this we were served a green olive tapenade and a walnut olive oil. Life's tough in the U3A!

Our second wine was a Domaine de Cristol Cotes de Provence rose. A beautiful pale pink colour, it is described as "bursting with bright peachy fruit with a faint strawberry note and a crisp dry finish". Again we were all reaching for seconds of this one. The accompaniments for this round were a sundried tomato tapenade and a basil olive oil.

Lastly we enjoyed a Rives & Terrasses Chateauneuf du Pape 2016 which had that classic peppery finish. This was complemented perfectly by a black olive tapenade which stood up well to the red wine. A great third choice for a great afternoon.

We probably outstayed our welcome, but as we merrily meandered home (on foot of course) several hours later we reflected how much we had enjoyed Nick and Jo's holiday too!


Update 25th June 2018

A wonderful sunny afternoon today at Rob and Lin's house in Lerryn. Today's selection of wines were all from Chile, via Sainsbury's.

The first wine we tasted was a Valdivieso Reserva Sauvignon Blanc costing £7 a bottle.

Described by the supplier as:-

Carefully handcrafted wine using grapes harvested from the best vineyards in Chile. The Winemaker Reserva wines combine the skill of our winemaker with the best parcels of grapes that are aged with oak to create wines which are a pure fruit expression of varietal. Fresh, pungent fruit aromas with a hint of gooseberry and citrus flavours. Excellent as an aperitif or with seafood and chicken.

The wine was well received by everyone and made an excellent start to the proceedings.

Our second tasting was Sainsbury's Chilean Pinot Noir, Taste the Difference 75cl. Currently available for £7, reduced from £8.

Quoting Sainsbury's website:-
A light-bodied Pinot Noir with enticing raspberry and red cherry flavours combined with well-integrated oak notes. This wine is made with grapes sourced from cool-climate vineyards in the Aconcagua Valley where fresh ocean breezes moderate the temperature creating ideal growing conditions. The pioneer Don Maximiano Errázuriz founded the winery in 1870 and today his descendants strive to build on his legacy of creating award-winning wines. Delicious with rich game dishes

Between tastings Lyn provided an impressive range of  tasty snacks based on some recipes   provided by her Chilean daughter-in-law.

The third wine was Sainsbury's Fairtrade Carménère, Taste the Difference 75cl costing £8.

Another eloquent description was provided as usual:-

This powerful, ripe Carmenere is deep purple in colour with complex flavours of berry fruits and vanilla with a peppery spice.  Working with grape-growing families from one of the less developed areas of the Central valley in Chile, this rich and powerful wine is produced from hand-harvested grapes.    The bold flavours make this wine a great companion to pasta, spicy food, beef and lamb dishes.

The general consensus of opinion was that the Carménère was preferable to the Pinot Noir.  The afternoon ended with a guided tour of the garden and home grown cucumbers were available for departing group members.

Thanks to Rob and Lin for their hospitality and a very enjoyable afternoon.


Update May 2018
Sue and Carl made good use of one of our newly purchased reference books for this month's meeting. Using the 2018 version of "Best Wines in the Supermarket", Carl had sourced three white wines from three different supermarkets. Each wine had scored top marks in the book but at very different price points.

Our challenge, on a beautifully hot summer's afternoon was to sit back, enjoy their garden, drink three wines and guess which was the most expensive, which in the middle and which the cheapest. Of course we set to our challenge with great gusto. 

The bottles had all been covered so we had no clues from the labels or the bottles themselves. Inevitably we all had slightly different opinions and guesses! The wines we tasted were as follows

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco di Tufo £10
"Aromas of fragrant herbs and flavours of exotic fruit combined with a fresh mineral finish. Perfect with seafood pasta."

Asda Extra Special Valle de Leyda Suavignon Blanc £5.98
"Crisp and zesty with pink grapefruit and fresh asparagus flavours. Sourced from Chile's Leyda Valley this gloriously floral and grassy Sauvignon Blanc has a tasty, fresh, citrussy flavour. Delicious choice with grilled fish, seafood or Thai food."

Lidl South African Chenin Blanc £3.89
"Dry, subtle citrus flavours and highly moreish- enjoy on its own or with salads and fish."

We all agreed that all three were eminently drinkable but generally felt that the quality was reflected in the price. A great, fun afternoon so many thanks to Carl and Sue for their hospitality.

Update April 2018
This month Helen had chosen what she termed "a random selection, soft and velvety". This choice came from Helen's preference for softer wines with less tannin.

The three wines were as follows, with descriptions from the Waitrose website:

Tenuta Rapitalà Nero d’Avola £9.99
"When the winery name is said to mean ‘beautiful garden of God’, you expect something sublime and this wine doesn’t disappoint. From the rolling hills close to Palermo, Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most expressive red grape. This seductive wine has juicy plum and cherry fruits, hints of spice and soft gentle tannins"

Waitrose St Hallett Reserve, Shiraz £11.99
"This wine has been made by blending selected parcels of fruit from across the Barossa. Lovely bright raspberry and plum aromas are complimented by restrained layers of pepper and spice. The palate is filled with fresh berries, hints of white pepper spice with velvety rolling tannins that add textural interest to finish off the wine nicely."

Chateau Souverain Chardonnay California £7.99
This Chardonnay offers aromas of stone fruit and soft tropical notes, layered with flavors of caramel and toasted oak. Rich textures lead to a balanced, lingering finish.

We enjoyed all three wines, but felt the extra £2 cost was worth the extra on the Australian Shiraz compared to the Sicilian Red. The American Chardonnay at 13.9%abv was typical of an American Chardonnay and very enjoyable on a lovely sunny afternoon. We thank Helen for encouraging us to try yet more unusual wines!

Update March 2018
A theme with a difference this month - Alan, as a geologist, had chosen three wines which referred to the rocks from their region in the name of the wine.

Firstly Dr Loosen Grey Slate Riesling (Waitrose £9.99)
"Elegant, fruity Riesling from the celebrated Erni Loosen. Beautifully structured, with pineapple, white peach and green apple flavours this has surprising power on the finish. By working closely with growers, Ernst and Thomas Loosen are able to assure excellent quality." ABV 10.5%

This almost had a spritz about it and was deemed very refreshing and a good example of a modern day Riesling.

We then moved to the New World for an unusual wine of its type - Greywacke Sauvignon 2016 Marlborough ABV 13% (Majestic Wines £17.99 or Wadebridge Wines).
"Greywacke (pronounced 'grey-wacky') is the name given to the grey sedimentary rock that characterises much of the soil in this estate's vineyard. The winery was founded in 2009, and is the brainchild of Kevin Judd, former winemaker of Cloudy Bay for 25 years. Intense aromatics of melon, peach and papaya are accompanied by hints of tomato leaf and capsicum. The palate is crisp but remarkably mouth-filling, a small portion of the wine having been oak fermented. Partner with a selection of canapes made with smoked salmon, anchovies or chêvre."

To finish we enjoyed an Australian Shiraz -  2016 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz (Waitrose £10.99)
"The Jip Jip Rocks are a striking outcrop of 350 million year old pink-red granite in the heart of the Padthaway region, which are sacred in traditional Aboriginal beliefs.

Lifted spice and ripe mulberry/blackberry aromas are complimented with chocolate, cedar and cinnamon on the nose. Well-integrated oak tannin provides flavours of clove and supple texture, which supports the rich plum, blackberry and mocha. The overall structure is supple and generous with fine-grained tannin and a lingering finish.

Winemaking Report
Fermentation took place over 10 – 12 days in a combination of open and static fermenters. The temperature was closely monitored to ensure the wine retains its natural fruit expression. New and older French and American oak was used for the maturation of selected wine parcels over a period of 13 months. These parcels were put together from our family estate to best demonstrate the depth and character of our fruit, balanced by integrated oak."

Everybody enjoyed the Riesling, much to some people's surprise. The Sauvignon Blanc was less popular and was very untypical of the sauvignon blanc we have come to expect from that region. The Jip Jip Shiraz was well received by everybody too.

A great theme Alan, thank you for your hospitality!

Update February 2018

Jenny kindly hosted this month's meeting but due to holidays there was a select group of attendees!

She reports:

Only five of us this month so a change of plan.

Wine writer Jane MacQuitty says we taste differently and not all of us can access every taste or smell.  25% of us can't taste bitterness and 3% not vanilla.

There are also 'super-tasters' who hate the oily finish of cheaper viogniers.   She recommends the Co-ops 2016 Irresistable Viognier (St Gabriel vineyard Pays D'Oc)  at £7.49,  with it's 'clean as a whistle finish, describing it as 'white peach-spiced'.   However the label quotes 'pale gold in colour, full flavoured , honeyed. Wonderful aromas of dried stone fruits with floral and vanilla overtones'   Showing it  is indeed a very personal thing.

We moved on to a 2016 red - Zalze - also Co-op at £7.49 - from S. Africa. Label reads 'In a valley where wine has been made for centuries Kleine Zalze continues the tradition of producing wines of outstanding quality.  It's a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Viognier.   It was liked by all and probably tasted different to each of us.    However the label description is 'Dense plummy, spicy fruitcake aromas with a leathery soft finish.  The black-olive fruit is well supported by the French Oak tannins giving this wine a savoury, long finish.

We rounded off the afternoon experimenting with the white by adding Creme de Casis for a Kir, or a dash of brandy, or simply an unadulterated glass freshener.

If you want to try some both wines appear in the Lostwithiel store but are stocked at St Austell


Update January 2018

We decided to start the year with a bang - tasting three wines which include bubbles!

Firstly a bit of info about the differences between champagne and other sparkling wines:

While Champagne is so called because of the region in which it’s made, similar methods are used in the manufacture of Cava and Prosecco – but there are crucial differences that set Champagne apart from the rest.

For instance, Champagne’s ‘Methode Champenoise’ process has strict regulations that require non-vintage varietals to be aged ‘on the lees’ in the bottle for at least 15 months. This means that the Champagne is kept in the bottle with the sediment that forms, while it’s gradually turned and inverted until it’s time for the lees, or sediment, to be removed.
Vintage Champagne, meanwhile, must be aged in cellars for three years or more before ‘disgorgement’, or the removal of the ‘lees’, or solidified sediment, that gathers in the bottleneck.

Cava, made using the ‘Methode Tradicional’, is formed from a blend of several types of wine but like Champagne, is also allowed to go through its second fermention in the bottle. The process takes nine months. But since doesn’t sit on the lees for as long, Cava is lighter in style than longer-aged Champagnes. Instead of toffee and biscuit notes, Cava will hit you with balanced citrus, melon, pear, and a pleasant acidity.

For Prosecco, the Italian Charmat method is applied. Secondary fermentation takes place in steel enamel-covered tanks rather than in the individual bottles and the resulting fizz is then bottled under pressure in a continuous process. This impacts the flavour notably, making it lighter and less yeasty. Prosecco can tend to be a little sweeter than Champagne or Cava, with bigger loser bubbles and buoyant flavours of apple, pear, lemon rind, light flowers, and even tropical fruit.

Are only white grapes used to make Champagne?
No. In fact, Pinot Noir, a red grape, is integral to the production process. They take care to keep the skin away from contact with the juice of the grapes so that the resulting liquid harvested from the white flesh of the grape remains white.

Is Champagne made using more than one grape then?
Yes – three varieties are blended in a process called assemblage: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

What grapes are used in the production of Cava and Prosecco?
In Cava, native Spanish grapes Macabeu, Parellada and Xarello are used, while Prosecco is made using just one grape – Glera.

So what are the differences in taste?
Generally speaking, Prosecco is lighter and slightly sweeter than Champagne. Cava is normally drier than Prosecco – on a par with Champagne – but is arguably less complex without the depth of flavour and distinctive ‘biscuity’ notes.

Hambledon Premiere Cuvée
English Sparkling Wine
Price: £42.50
Blend: The blend of Chardonnay (58%), Pinot Meunier (18%) & Pinot Noir (24%) was carefully developed under the guidance of our leading Champenois chef de caves, Hervé Jestin.
Tasting note: Nose rich and warm exuding Seville orange and brioche aromas, with hints of dried flowers and toasted hazelnuts. The palate is explosive, with mouthwatering acidity and dried apricot and citrus. The mouthfeel is a silky soft foam of tingling sparks. The finish shows undertones of vanilla and and salted caramel, ending again with that fresh, vivid, orangey tang. Very dry, long and immensely complex.
Ageing: Ready to drink now but will benefit from ageing.

 Oudinot Brut Champagne

 Marks & Spencer
 Price: £27.00
A dry and elegant champagne with a crisp mousse and fresh lemon fruit undertones. This all-Chardonnay sparkler is crisp and minerally with a palate-refreshing finish.

Marks and Spencer Rosado Cava Prestige, NV
Produced by: Freixenet
Grape: Trepat
Price: £12
A fresh and fruity Cava Rosado with fabulous fruit and floral aromas. Elegantly dry with a soft yet full flavour of summer fruits, clean and fresh with a good length. The expressive sparkle is produced by careful maturation in this bottle for a 9 month period.


Our adventures during 2017 may be followed on this page.