Just a reminder to visitors to our pages that we score out of 7, so 5’s and 6’s are really rather good!!
May 2019 – Committee Challenge
A lively turnout for the Committee’s recommendations/last-minute-panic-purchases.
We had each chosen two wines, one in the ‘under £10’ category and one in the ‘over £10’ category, giving our lucky members a total of twelve wines to taste and vote on. Once again, tasters didn’t know whose recommendations they were trying before voting for their favourite wine in each category. The downside of this system is, of course, that it seriously limits the opportunities for coercion, bullying or even just good old bribery by the less ethical members of the committee.
Despite the voting system being marginally less complex than voting in the forthcoming election of members for the European Parliament, the fact that neither of my own wines came first does suggest that many people were confused by the process. Still, our process is a lot cheaper than the E.P elections and it came up with the following results:
Best wine under £10
Nero Oro Appassimento, Sicily 2017, an Italian red, chosen by Jenny, which swept away the rest of the field (£8.99 from Majestic)
Best wine over £10
Grace Bridge Pinot Noir, California 2015, chosen by Ira and Steve
(£13.95 from The Old Bridge Wine Shop, Huntingdon)
A close(ish) second in this category, and so an honourable mention goes to
La Casetta Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, chosen by Helen (£13.99 from Majestic)
Congratulations to Jenny, Ira and Steve, and Helen.
April 2019 – New Zealand with Keith Grainger
Keith is a very experienced and popular wine tutor and presenter. This evening his great depth of knowledge was evident – as you might expect from someone who was one of the founder members of the Association of Wine Educators – as he presented us with a wide range of New Zealand wines.
We tried Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough (not surprisingly) but also from the Gladstone region on the North Island – a very different style of Sauvignon (more Loire-like?). All scored highly, a reflection of the popularity of New Zealand Sauvignons, with the Gladstone wine perhaps just edging it; this wine was the 2017 Johner Sauvignon Blanc from Virgin Wines. We also tried a delicious Waipara Reisling before moving on to the reds.
New Zealand produces some lovely Pinot Noirs and we were able to compare two Pinot’s from different regions, Marlborough and Central Otago. The wine from the latter proved to be the highest scoring of the evening, it was the 2012 John Forrest Collection Bannockburn Pinot Noir, again from Virgin Wines. Described as ‘New Zealand’s answer to fine Burgundy’, this is a serious wine with a good balance of black fruit and spicy oak. We then moved on to wines that would probably have been unheard of here from New Zealand 25 years ago, a Merlot-Cabernet and a Syrah, both from Hawkes Bay on the North Island. Keith explained that, although Hawkes Bay has been a longstanding producer of red wines, it is relatively recently that a better understanding and utilisation of terroir has led to great improvements in the quality of wines made from these classic French grapes – something that we were able to confirm for ourselves on the night.
Keith’s selection of wines came from The Wine Society, Waitrose, Virgin Wines and Great Western Wines.
March 2019 – Northern Italy with Ben Robson
An excellent turnout for a popular speaker and, once again, Ben didn’t disappoint. Last year he presented southern Italian wines to us, so this year we asked him to do an about-face and present wines from northern Italy. And his selection was certainly interesting!
Our welcome wine was a Prosecco, but not Prosecco as you know it! Described as a new ‘old-style’ of Prosecco, the Case Bianche Prosecco ‘Antico’ (i.e. antique) was a vino frizzante that was still on its lees! Unusually for a modern wine, the fermentation is completed in the bottle, leaving the yeast sitting in the bottom of the bottle – so when poured it looks distinctly like cloudy lemonade! The extra time on the lees gives it a fresh, sour apple and lime character. This wine went down well on the night and certainly created a lot of discussion. And is in danger of using up my monthly quota of exclamation marks …
The remainder of the wines for the evening came from the Piedmonte region of north-western Italy. My favourite white of the night, the Villa Guelpa Longitudine, is made from the Erbaluce grape, which was new to me. Whilst Ben’s tasting notes allude to apricot, cantaloupe melon and kiwi fruit, with salt and mineral elements to ‘heighten the tension’, my more simplistic scribblings noted ‘lemon meringue pie’. And I do like lemon meringue pie.
The reds started with a lovely, fresh and fruity Barbera D’Asti and moved on to a selection of wines made from the Nebbiolo grape. Neck and neck for the top scoring red were the Ascheri Barolo ‘Pisapola’ and the Antoniolo Gattinara; my casting vote goes to the Gattinara. Ben’s tasting notes describe it as, ‘Old English rose, black cherry and forest strawberry aromas. Deep, full and fine crunchy Nebbiolo fruit, intricate red berry, orange peel and floral nuance. Tannins are fine and will ensure a long life’. My notes are a little more succinct, i.e. ‘Really nice’ which, I feel, sums it up well.
All the wines, and more, can be found on Ben’s website: https://batwine.uk
February 2019 – a 3D Vinous Tour de France
Billed as a ‘Tour de France’, this was a tour de force from Andrew Bennett of 3D Wines, presenting wines from just some of the vineyards that he works with around France.
As well as selling wine under their ‘Time for Wine’ banner, 3D Wines encourage you to immerse yourself in the world of wine production by renting a row of vines in a classic wine region (you can even choose to pick your own grapes) or by attending one of their organised events: events such champagne blending in Rheims or truffle hunting in the Rhône valley.
This evening we tried some excellent wines from Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace, Bordeaux, the Loire and the Rhône. On an evening of high scores, the best scoring wines were the Côtes de Nuits Villages Blanc 2016 and the Blaye Grande Réserve Cuvée 3D 2015 – both with average scores of 6/7.
The Côtes de Nuits, with 10% Pinot Blanc added to the compulsory Chardonnay, ‘… has wonderful minerality on the nose and a smoky, lemony quality from the Pinot Blanc. The palate is very fine and elegant with crisp citrus fruit, a touch of melon and finely judged spicy oak’, and all at a price that mere mortals can afford.
Coming from ‘the right bank’ of the Dordogne, it’s no surprise that the Blaye is a Merlot dominated blend, but it also contains a good dollop of Malbec in with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Described as ‘Rich and spicy with an appealing nose of ripe black fruits, exotic spice and mocha. The palate is fresh and lush with sweet, spicy damson and blackcurrant fruit, spicy oak and grippy tannins. It is mouth-filling, rich and concentrated with a lovely juicy, spicy oak finish.’ Delicious and, again, very affordable.
For more information about 3D Wines, visit https//www.3dwinesexperience.com/
January 2019 – Brown Bros of Australia
Being the UK’s only importer and stockist of Brown Bros wines, Jeremy Sandham is uniquely placed to give a comprehensive presentation of their range, and this he certainly did. From the 7.5% Cienna, to the 14% Patricia Shiraz, and all points between, Jeremy showed us just how broad and varied the Brown Bros range is. Sourced mostly from vineyards in Victoria, but also from Tasmania and New South Wales, the Brown Bros ‘thing’ is to experiment with, and then perfect, presenting grape varieties and blends you wouldn’t often see; grapes such as the Cienna, the Durif, and (a new one on me) the Crouchen. And how many times have you seen Sauvignon Blanc blended with a small % of Gewurtztraminer? And it works!
Jeremy’s laid back and relaxed style belies a huge knowledge, and enthusiasm, for the wines he sells. It’s always a pleasure to welcome him to LWS. Usually he is bringing one of his reps or agents to do the presentation, so this time it was a rare treat for us having him present personally. We’re already talking of him coming back next year – maybe fine Burgundy?? Watch this space.
What about the wines, you cry; well, scoring was remarkably even across the board with five 5’s. The Crouchen / Riesling blend only managed a 3, along with the wonderfully eccentric Cienna (a low alcohol, sweet red wine, served chilled). Wine of the night was the Patricia Shiraz, with the Explorer Chenin Blanc getting an honourable mention. For me, the 18en Sauvignon Blanc was a delight, and a big surprise, the Sparkling Brut was fantastic – vintage champagne in style, but at under £20! All tonight’s wines, and many, many more, can be found at https://sandhamswine.co.uk or at the shop on South Street, Caistor.
December 2018 – Christmas Social
A new format for the Christmas Event/Party/Thing this year, and yet people still seemed to have good time!
For those that were too busy eating or chatting to make notes, here’s a list of the wines that we enjoyed:
Vecchia Modena Pignoletto Spumante N.V. Waitrose £9.99
Incantesimo Falanghina, 2017 Corney & Barrow £10.50
Domaine la Croix Belle, Côtes de Thongue The Wine Society £8.95
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay The Wine Society £18.50
Navajas Crianza Rioja 2015 The Wine Society £8.95
Finest Alsace Gewurztraminer, 2017 Tesco £9.00
Juliénas, Les Capitans, 2017 The Wine Society £9.95
Trapiche Pure Malbec, 2017 The Co-op £9.09
Terre di Falano Primitivo, 2016 Waitrose £9.99
November 2018 – The Wines of Croatia, with Mikki Hall
A great presentation from Mikki, with some nice wines to taste and just the right amount of interesting background information about the country and its wine production. Did you know that in 2016 there were 259 different cultivars of vine that were officially recognised in Croatia? The big disappointment about this tasting was the fact that we didn’t get to try even half of them!
Mikki presented us with a selection of wines from ‘inland’ Croatia, some made from indigenous grapes and others from more widely known ‘international’ grape varieties. Included in the indigenous category were three different wines from the Graševina grape, to compare and contrast. White wine from the Graševina is very popular in Croatia and well worth trying if you visit on holiday (or even before then if you buy it from Croatianwineclub.co.uk). My favourite wine of the evening was the 2014 Erdut 1730 Graševina, fresh, with hints of citrus and good minerality. However, the popular vote (which I suppose I ought to report for a change) went to another grape, the Traminac’, more widely known as Gewürztraminer. The 2016 Papak Ilok Radosh Traminac was the highest scoring wine of the evening; with honey and rose petals on the nose it smelt sweeter than it tasted, it was off-dry on the palate, tasting (I am assured) of lychee with a bitter twist. It transpires that the 1947 Ilok Cellars Traminac was served at our own Queen’s Coronation banquet in 1953 (and can still be bought at about €7,500 per bottle – sadly beyond our budget for this evening).
One more Croatia fact; within Croatia, Croatia isn’t actually called Croatia – it is known as Hrvatska. So, when you read the label on a Croatian wine, it may well show the country of origin as being Hrvatska. Now there’s the basis of a good quiz question!
The wines are available from Croatian Wine Club https://croatianwineclub.co.uk
October 2018 – ‘Wines for the Festive Season’ with James Long
It is 27 years since James Long first presented Corney & Barrow wines to the Lincoln Wine Society; I’ve lost count of the number of his visits since. But a record turnout demonstrated that we’ve not tired of him, and says a lot about his entertaining presentations and good wines. And his generous discounts don’t go amiss either …
James’ remit of ‘Wines for the Festive Season’ meant that he had few constraints on the wines shown, other than the fact that that he promises us faithfully that these are the wines that will be served in the Long household over the coming festive period. On the evening, suffice to say that the wines went down very well, with every wine getting an average score of 5 or 6 (out of 7).
Difficult to pick just two favourites, but if forced then I would go for Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles, Olivier Leflaive, 2015 – the fruit of predominantly younger vines from the legendary villages of Puligny-Montrachet and Mersault (the blend is why it must be declassified to Bourgogne Blanc under French law), ‘supple, mineral, creamy, refreshing’.
And for a red, although many favoured the Californian Cabernet Sauvignon from Bakestone Cellars, I’ve chosen the Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, Cecilia Beretta, 2016 – and not only because I love the Italian pronunciation of the name Cecilia. This ‘baby Amarone’ was well-structured with a long, chocolatey finish and delicious cherry, plum and savoury notes. Bloomin’ lovely.
September 2018 – English Wines with Christine Austin
A welcome return for Christine who, as co-founder and Life President of the Lincoln Wine Society, wouldn’t dare offer us a bad tasting! Our topic was ‘English Wines’, and the first thing that we learnt was that we should now be calling them ‘Wines GB’, given that wine is also produced in Wales (and, given the pace of global warming, it probably won’t be too long before we include Scotland as well). But regardless of subject name, Christine presented us with an excellent selection of wines, mainly sparklers but including a still white, a red and a ‘sweetie’.
The still white certainly deserves a mention in despatches; the Halfpenny Green Tom Hill 2016 from Staffordshire (yes, Staffordshire!) was refreshingly different, floral with lime on the nose, crisply dry and flavoursome in the mouth, and very popular on the night. Made from the Huxelrebe grape, a bargain at just £9.99 from Waitrose Cellar. Huxelrebe cropped up again in the Denbies Noble Harvest 2015, with botrytis helping to produce a luscious dessert wine. And again, very well received on the night.
It was no real surprise that most of the wines in our tasting were bubbly, with sparkling wine now accounting for 70% of all UK wine production, and with some of these wines able to compete with the very best on the world stage. From the multitude of riches on offer, the highest scoring wine on the night was the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Brut NV – which I felt was a particularly good example of this widely available wine. It’s made from a blend of classic Champagne grapes, based on the 2014 vintage but including reserve wines from as far back as 2008. Just behind the Nyetimber on the scorecard was the very select ‘The Trouble with Dreams’, made by Dermot Sugrue, former winemaker at Nyetimber – certainly one to keep your eyes open for in the future.
English wines, whoops, I mean Wines GB, are no longer something to drink just for their novelty value; there are some seriously good wines out there. A big thank you to Christine for showing us some of them.
August 2018 – Committee Challenge
Well the best turnout of the year to-date reflected the membership’s resounding vote of confidence in their Committee’s ability to choose some excellent wines for them to judge. Or perhaps, on reflection, it just shows a touching naivety. Either way, we were presented with some lovely wines on the evening – six wines in the ‘under £10’ category and six in the ‘over £10’ category (and yes you’re right, wines costing exactly £10 are apparently not allowed). Members then voted for their favourite wine in each category. We also had a mystery wine for those who just can’t pack too much excitement into one evening.
For the first time at this event, we didn’t know which Committee member had chosen each wine (we’d each chosen one wine for each category), so members were voting for the wine and not the person who chose it – I expect it was just a coincidence that this was also the first time I’ve not won. Anyway, hard-earned reputations were on the line!
After a marathon tasting the votes were cast and counted. Then, in an atmosphere so tense it could have been cut with a butter-knife, the winners were announced. They were:
Best wine under £10
Zebro Vinho Regional Alentejano 2010, a Portugese red chosen by Peter
(£5.99 from Sandhams, Caistor)
Best wine over £10
Clos Floridene 2015, Bordeaux, a French white chosen by Ira and Steve
(£19.00 from the Co-op)
Very well done to Peter (who counted the votes) and Ira and Steve (who held the spare voting cards). Hang on a minute …
July 2018 – barbecue
A departure from our normal format – a barbecue in the lovely grounds at Lindum House, something we haven’t done for many years. Nice venue and good food (organised by Eddy), good wines (organised by Mark and Peter) and good weather (organised by Paul). And a big thank you to Steve for his classical guitar accompaniment to the welcome wine.
The wines we had were:
Graham Beck Brut N.V.
Martin Codax Albarino, 2016
Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc, 2016
Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico, 2014?
Brazin Zinfandel, 2014
Peter’s novel idea of freezing some of the Cote du Rhone was a big surprise, well received on a warm evening.
June 2018 – Southern Italy with Ben Robson
The welcome return of Ben Robson, Bat and Bottle Wines, Oakham. Ben presented a selection of wines from southern Italy, from the rolling hills of Tuscany (well they’re south of Milan aren’t they?) down to slopes of Mount Etna on Sicily. Ben’s enthusiasm for his wines shines through (he only sells wines that he likes to drink himself!), so you can always guarantee an entertaining and informative evening with him.
We had a wide selection of wines; starting with a spumante, followed by 3 whites, a rosato (sounds better than pink) and 4 reds. Favourite wines on the night? Difficult to say as there were too many wines scoring 6/7 to list them all … My own favourites were the Cantina di Marzo Greco di Tufo ‘Palazzo’ 2015 – a rich, minerally white from Campania, described as ‘a white wine for red wine drinkers’. And the Paolo Petrilli ‘Agramante’ 2015, a blend of Nero di Troia, Sangiovese and Montepulciano from Puglia, rich fruit and fine tannins. A bit like me after a couple of glasses of wine, i.e. gorgeous.
More details of Ben’s wines can be seen on his website: https://batwine.uk
May 2018 – Australia: Robert Oatley Wines, with Anthony Flack
A good presentation of wines from one producer but different regions of Australia, with a wide range of grape varieties and blends.
The whites included Riesling and Chardonnay, but the most popular on the evening was the clean, fresh Hancock & Hancock Fiano from the McLaren Vale. Originally from southern Italy, the Fiano grape was new to many, and this example had enough complexity to make it interesting as well as refreshing; it will certainly go very nicely with food when dining al fresco over the coming summer months …
A strong selection of reds included 3 wines vying for best of the night: the Hancock & Hancock Cabernet Sauvignon/Touriga, the Signature GSM and the Finisterre Syrah all scoring very highly. My vote went to the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre), a sumptuous Rhone blend that is also very good value for money.
Our local stockist for Robert Oatley Wines is Ann et Vin in Newark
April 2018 – Leon Stolarski, New Classic Wines from Regional France
Leon re-visited us with another selection of interesting SW France wines. We were able to taste some grapes unfamiliar to most; Aramon, Courbu, for example, and others that we don’t get to taste every day; Grenache Blanc, Mourvedre, Carignan, etc.
Leon’s style is to let the wines speak for themselves, and this they most certainly did, and whilst the whites were a bit too specialist for most, the reds scored very well, with my wines of the night being the Mas Foulaquier Les Tonillieres – a 50/50 Carignan and Syrah blend, and the 2011 Montesquiou Jurancon sweetie, made from 100% Petit Manseng and harvested really late. Extremely luscious. www.lsfinewines.co.uk for more on Leon’s wines.
March 2018 – Fortified Wines, with Chris Mooney and Sandhams of Caistor
An excellent selection of fortified wines, presented by Chris Mooney of Fells – one of the leading wine importers in the UK.
We sampled Sherry (a Manzanilla and an Amontillado), Madeira (a Sercial, and a Bual & Malmsey blend), a Marsala (plus an unfortified wine from the same producer) and Port (a Tawny and a vintage). All-in-all, some serious – and seriously good – wines that were very well received on the night, with five gaining average scores of 6/7.
My personal favourites were the Pellegrino Oro Marsala and the Dows 1977 Vintage Port, although at £90 per bottle I might have to restrict myself to just a half case of the latter.
All of the wines are available from Sandhams Wine Merchants, Caistor https://www.sandhamswine.co.uk
February 2018 – German Wines, with Ben Straw
A good selection of German wines from Ben Straw of The Straw Collection.
January 2018 – ‘Burgundy and Beyond’, with Liam Smith of Majestic Wines
An excellent evening, with Liam Smith (manager at Majestic’s Lincoln store on Wragby Road) presenting a selection of Burgundy and Burgundy look-alikes. We were impressed by the quality and affordability of the wines on offer. https://www.majestic.co.uk
December 2017 – Christmas Party
An opportunity to let our hair down, well those of us who have it, whilst
gorging on imbibing some good wines and enjoying a sumptuous buffet. A great evening to socialise.
November 2017 – Wig and Mitre Dinner
Such was the success of last year’s Wig & Mitre dinner, we decided to come back for more! This time the theme was Spain, pairing wines from the Wig & Mitre’s wine list with Spanish food.
Once again, hosted very ably by the Wig’s Dani Longhi, we tasted wines that were not always an obvious choice, but were delicious nonetheless – Dani had obviously put a lot of thought into choosing wines that would appeal to this fussy audience. A great evening.
October 2017 – ‘A Festive Selection’ with James Long of Corney and Barrow
James is in danger of becoming an ‘institution’ with Lincoln wine Society, having presented wines to us on many occasions over the last 25 (?) years. But he is certainly not getting stale. He excelled himself this year with his choice of wines, and his stand-up routine (sorry, I mean presentation) seems to get better each year.
With little constraint on choice of wines, he gave us a wide-ranging selection of Italian, Spanish and French wines. Scoring was high, with 4 wines averaging a score of 6/7 (a Soave, a white Burgundy, a Rioja and a Ribero del Duero) and a further 3 a score of 5/7 – a reflection of how much the wines were enjoyed on the night.
September 2017 – ‘Ones to Watch’, with Neil Courtier
August 2017 – Wines from Portugal, with Nicola Ladwiniec
Nicky is a member of the Association of Wine Educators, and she chose an interesting selection of Portuguese wines for this evening’s tasting. They certainly divided the room … with another evening of mixed opinions but a great opportunity to taste wines that we haven’t necessarily tried before.
Portuguese wine, like Italian, is often better paired with food and although some of these wines are drinkable on their own the flavours are certainly brought out and complimented by the likes of cheese, creamy chicken dishes and seafood.
One of the wines tasted during the evening scored an overall score of 3 from guests and members. A score not seen at The Wine Society for a long while. This was Luis Pato Vinha Formal White 2014 12% from Portugal Vineyards Ltd costing £22. The grape variety was 100% Bical. It was a wine that had an unusual nose but creamy on the palate.
It certainly was not a disappointing evening though and most of the wines scored a 5 or 6.
The two wines that scored the highest were Quinta do Carmo Red 2013 14.5% from Portugal Vineyards. A mix of 4 grape varieties including the well-known Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine had been aged in French oak for 1 year and was a fabulous accompaniment to cheese. It was priced at £15.70.
The last wine of the evening was also popular. This was a 10-year-old Madeira Malvasia by Henriques & Henriques. This can be found at Majestic Wines and was priced at £22 for a 50cl bottle.
It would be interesting to know how many of you enjoy a Portuguese wine and what is your favourite? Please do let us know it’s always great to try wines recommended by others.
See you next month!
June 2017 – Committee Challenge 2017
May 2017 – Wines from Bordeaux presented by Anthony Stockbridge
April 2017 – ‘Chile and Argentina’ with Chris Mooney and Sandhams Wines
March 2017 – ‘Off the Beaten Track’ with Leon Stolarski Fine Wines
February 2017 – Majestic’s Definition Range, with Gerry Baker.
January 2017 – ‘Wines from Verona’ with Ben Robson