Wine Appreciation Group 2

Group Leader - John Stanley
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WINE APPRECIATION – for wine lovers!

(WAG2 Virtual Zoom Meeting Tuesday 7th Evening at 7.30pm Theme - American Wine)

In recognition of the proximity to July 4th we agreed a theme of “American Wine” for tonight’s meeting. Although we now do not all sample the same wine we have an enjoyable evening hearing about everyone’s choice and it encourages us to purchase wines we may not have considered before. So far we have had no duplicate bottles and at this meeting we heard about five different wines including three whites all from California.

Two were Chardonnay firstly Dark Horse available from most supermarkets. Reviews state it is a bold wine with big personality, this Chardonnay showcases bright flavours of apple, pear, caramel and a creamy, full-bodied finish. Dark Horse winemaker, Beth Liston, believes that fortune favours the bold. Her pioneering approach to viticulture and winemaking champions originality and above all, taste. The second Chardonnay was Waitrose Californian Chardonnay and this was also recommended as being very refreshing with a fruity taste of peaches and nectarines. The third choice was Barefoot Moscato available in Tesco which is a sweet dessert wine, but the opinion was that it is also equally pleasant drunk on its own on a summer’s evening. I think we may all give this one a try.

Our two reds were Apothic Red also from California and Between the Vines Merlot from Washington State. Inspired by “Apotheca” a mysterious place where ancient wines blended, Apothic Red is a masterfully crafted smooth red blend. Rich layers of dark fruit are complemented by hints of mocha and vanilla with a long, smooth finish makes Apothic perfect for a night with friends. The grapes used in this blend were grown in an array of vineyards throughout the beautiful California Central Valley. An assortment of microclimates and soil types in the different vineyards leads to unique wine styles in this Boyd Morrison winery. Available from Tescos currently at £8.00.

The second red Between the Vines Merlot Washington is exclusively sold in Waitrose stores nationwide at a£9.99. Its place of origin, Washington State is a premium wine-producing region located in the northwest corner of the United States. Although a relatively young wine industry, it is the nation’s second-largest wine producer and is ranked among the world’s top wine regions. Particular effort has been put into the design of the bottle to create an elegant tall thin look. Achieved by using vertical lines, this illusion added grandeur as well as making the bottle appear taller and thinner. The lines encapsulate the ‘Between the Vines’ in the centre and are finished with a premium copper foil, which illuminates from the jet-black label. The wine itself is medium bodied, with rich dark cherries, ripe plums and a little hint of spice with a smooth mellow finish and very drinkable.
One of our group enjoys trying different gins and at this meeting we heard about Whitley Neill Blood Orange Gin made with Sicilian blood oranges very fruity with a nice after taste.
Our next meeting will be on the Tuesday 4 August and the theme for this month is Eastern/Central European wines.

Sparkling Wine Evening Tuesday 2nd June 2020

WAG2 had another successful Zoom meeting on June 2nd and we decided to add a bit of sparkle in our lives with some quality fizz. Whilst we did not feel it was quite the time for champagne we indulged in some enjoyable sparklers ranging from Spanish Cavas such as Tesco Cava Brut. This sparkling wine is made by the traditional method with secondary fermentation in the bottle. Local white grapes Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Paradella are grown on hills to the west of Barcelona in Catalunya and it was found to be very refreshing and very drinkable and only £5.75 a bottle. Another Spanish Cava which was well received was Cordon Negro again using the same grapes and from the same area as Tesco Cava Brut. A family owned business Freixenet’s Cordon Negro comes in an iconic black bottle and is an award-winning wine.

Of course Italian Proseccos can never be missed out and Prosecco Superiore from Valdobbadene was a definite hit. This dry sparkling wine is both fresh and elegantly complex, boasting classic aromas of white blossom and crisp notes of peach and pear, made from the Girea grape and similarly Plaza Prosecco, a classic Italian sparkling wine. A lively, refreshing wine full of bright citrus fruit flavours with background floral notes. Perfect, served chilled, for any occasion as an aperitif. Both available from Tescos.

Next we tasted DOMAINE ANSEN Cremant d’Alsace bio ‘Struch’ Blanc de Noirs 2013 from the Alsace wine region in France The cremant method of production is identical with that of champagne. In comparison to champagne, crémant d'Alsace is usually at a lower price levels; crémant d'Alsace cannot age in cellar as long as champagne (5 years maximum). As a wine, crémant style is also probably more approachable than many champagnes – generally lighter, sometimes floral, always refreshing and less austere – and certainly drier than most proseccos. It is also, as the name suggests, sometimes quite creamy and frothy, but without being sweet. The Domaine Ansen Crémant d’Alsace from Lukins was no exception being particularly refreshing with exquisite acidity and balance.

Finally, an English Surrey-made bubbly outclasses foreign rivals such as prosecco, cava and crémant. Made from grapes grown in long-established vineyards just outside Dorking, this winning Sainsbury Taste the Difference English Sparkling Brut was praised by the judging panel for its “brisk fizz and tropical fruity flavour”. Panellists said it had baked apple and elderflower flavours while one likened the aroma of the fizz to lychees. This too proved to be very popular by our members.

Spanish Wine Evening Tuesday 5 May 2020

Our second successful virtual zoom meeting was held on the 5th May and 10 members of the group joined in to have a fun evening discussing and drinking the Spanish wine that they had chosen as well as one of our members partaking a glass of Greenall’s Blueberry Gin which suggests maybe a Gin Tasting evening is an option for a future event.
The wines were from different regions of Spain and although we think of Spain as a hot and dry country the North West corner where the Alberino grape is grown is quite damp and windy. Two members had chosen a white wine from this Rias Baixas coastal region in Galicia and it was noted that the labels on the front of bottle include both the type of grape and the Denomination de Origin rather than the region. The wines were Most Wanted Albarino Rias Baixas from the Coop and CORTE 1, Albarino Rias Baixas from Laithwaites. Having never tried an Alberino before we were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed these refreshing dry and crisp aromatic whites with rich stone fruit flavours and would not hesitate to buy again. Another white choice was Ramon Rose from the Rioja region. It was from the Garnacha grape and was fairly light and dry. It received mixed reviews and not highly recommended.
We did not forget about the popular red Rioja wines which included Vina del Cura, Campo Viejo and Castello de Albai Tempranillo. The Vina del Cura is from the family owned and managed Bodegas Equiai n Elciego in the Rioja Alavesa region. Tempranillo grapes from vines up to 80 years old picked in the first week in October and after fermentation the wine is aged in American oak barrels for 12 months. Vina del Cura was found to be very smooth and well balanced. Campo Viejo opened its doors in 2001 and is notably made by a group of women winemakers. It is a strong 14% wine bought from Tescos but was felt to be rather too heavy and dry so not rated highly. Finally the Castello de Albai Tempranillo 2015 also from Tescos fared better with a good balance of dark berries and spices with soft tannins and a smooth finish.

Looking forward to our next meeting on 2 June – theme yet to be determined.


WAG2 Meeting Friday 10th April Theme – Favourite Aperitif/Wine

Our first virtual meeting and we were all a little apprehensive about how it would go as we Zoomed but we were pleasantly surprised how well the technology worked to connect 9 members of our group.

Philip & Therese started off the evening talking about a Fairtrade wine called Vergelegen from South Africa the Stellenbosch region. Vergelegen meaning “situated far away” was granted to the Governor of the Cape in 1700. It was an extra special find as they had visited this wine estate on their holiday in November 2018. The grapes were harvested in January and February 2019 to produce this wine which by chance was found in their local Coop at £10 a bottle. It is a crisp dry unwooded Sauvignon Blanc. Good served chilled as an aperitif whilst on Zoom and went well with a prawn pasta after the meeting.

Hilary & Bob chose Coorong Sounds Reserve, a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2018 from Virgin Wines costing a similar price. We learnt that Coorong Sounds is an area of South Eastern Australia described as the gateway to the limestone coast. It is an untamed wetland with an abundance of indigenous wildlife that has been there for 6000 years. The area has a microclimate making it 10 degrees cooler than inland regions such as the Barossa Valley. The Semillon grape is blended to produce a crisp, refreshing wine with fruity citrus flavours and a clean finish. Being versatile allows it to be paired with a wide variety of foods. It does however, go especially well parsley fish cakes!

Then we heard from Ken & Jill about a 2019 Merlot from McGuigan Estate in South Eastern Australia, strength 12.5%. This merlot is a smooth and easy drinking wine with intense fruit flavours of plum and berries with light to medium tannins. Goes particularly well with roast chicken or tomato-based pasta dishes. It can be purchased from either Asda or Sainsbury and cost £6. Should be drunk within two years of bottling but suspect that will not pose too much of a problem to our group.

John & Sheila chose their 2 favourites from a recent Aldi wine delivery an Austrian white namely Kirchberg DAC Gruner Veltliner from the Poysdorf region which has a full bouquet of aromas including juicy yellow pears with elegant spicy notes goes well with chicken with a herb crust, smoked fish or asparagus costing £8.99 and a 5 star Malbec Uco Valley Exquisite Collection which goes with everything from roasts to pasta. The grapes are from the Uco Valley – home to many of Argentina’s greatest reds. The vineyards lie at altitudes of between 900 and 1300m against the spectacular backdrop of the mighty Andes. The days can be hot but the nights are invariably chilly and therein lies the secret to this juicy, aromatic Malbec with aromas of soft fruits including mulberries and blackberries. It’s youthful, well balanced and medium-bodied, with a persistent mouthwatering fruitiness and is reasonably priced at only £5.99.

Finally Debbie was drinking her favourite gin Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger with strawberries and tonic water although it also goes well with ginger ale. The essence of rhubarb adds a tart crisp edge to a smooth English gin base whilst the ginger extract warms the palate for a full-bodied finish. Whilst most of Johnny Neill’s inspiration for his award-winning Gins comes from his ancestor’s intrepid exploits abroad, this Rhubarb & Ginger Gin harks from fond memories made slightly closer to home. Post-war, the Whitley Family settled into rural England near Daresbury, cultivated their garden with thrilling flavours, serving as inspiration for both the table and indeed their experimentation with new Gins.

It was a successful evening and although we were unable to taste everyone’s wine we can purchase and try them at our leisure and perhaps discuss again at a future meeting.

Our next Virtual Meeting will be on ZOOM on Tuesday 5 May and we agreed that together we would explore the Wines of Spain.


If you would like to join our Group, please contact John Stanley

Dates for your Diary
Tue Sep 1st WAG 2 monthly meeting
Tue Oct 6th WAG 2 monthly meeting
Tue Nov 3rd WAG 2 monthly meeting
Tue Dec 1st WAG 2 monthly meeting

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