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AGM & Members' Favourite Wines

This month’s blog has been prepared by Keith Phillips.

January’s tasting brought together a selection of eight wines. Twenty two apologies for absence had been received so we sat down numbering nineteen and, except for the sparkling wine, only two bottles were required.

No members had proposed “Absolutely Fabulous” wines, so the category was broadened to members’ favourites plus a chance to taste again wines from tastings in 2019.

The one rosé, three white wines and four reds were as follows:

1. Wine: BALFOUR 1503 SPARKLING ROSE; Grape(s): Chardonnay, Pinot Noir; Geography: Tonbridge, Kent; Producer: Hush Heath; Year: NV ; ABV: 12 %; Price: £ 18.00

The press had recommended a wine from this producer at £37, however here their entry level sparkling wine was presented. It should have been avoided, as we had previously tasted this and I had found it a bland, fizzy syrup at the AGM two years ago. A number of a number of people though did enjoy this wine.

2. Wine: CORTE FRESCO; Grape(s): Pinot Grigio; Geography: Umbria, Italy; Producer: Corte Fresco; Year: 2018; ABV: 12 %; Price: £ 6.65

This is a member’s favourite after being discovered in a restaurant and then tracked to a supplier in York. A delicate floral nose was followed upon tasting by some notes of minerals and confectionery. Initially one wondered why this everyday wine had been put forward. It turned out that its favourite status was based on the price of just £ 6.65 a bottle.

3. Wine: SINAIS SAUVIGNON BLANC; Grape(s): Sauvignon Blanc; Geography: Serra Gaucha, Brazil; Producer: Don Guerino; Year: 2018; ABV: 13%; Price: £ 11.00

Another wine we have tasted recently. Previously presented by Go Brazil in June last year, it still had a queer, heavy, organic nose and despite reasonable acidity it felt fat and didn’t finish cleanly. The description in last June’s blog, giving the producer’s viewpoint appears to be of a different wine?

4. Wine: FREI BROS. SONOMA CHARDONNAY; Grape(s): Chardonnay; Geography: Sonoma County; Producer: Frei Brothers; Year: ABV: 14%; Current Price: £ 17.99

Waitrose had offered this wine at only £10.00 in their “Fine Wines for £10” Christmas promotion featuring wines normally price between £15 and £18. Made using grapes brought from the Russian River vineyards it smelled oaky and someone suggested that it had ‘struck match character’. The palette was queer, artificial and sweet, rendering it clumsy with no balance. Just one member thought it a good wine.

5. Wine: BURLESQUE; Grape(s): Zinfandel; Geography: Lodi, California; Producer: Boutinat; Year: 2017; ABV: 14%; Price: £ 8.50

Initially it appeared as the second member’s favourite wine of the evening, however, it’s only a favourite ‘go-to picnic wine’ andwas brought along so that the Marlow Wine Society would to give a second opinion on it.

This wine, with its silly name, is shipped in bulk to France for bottling. I found the the nose of dark, spicy, cooked-up jam was followed by a very sweet blackberry palette lacking any finesse or style. It was enjoyed by several members though, who came together to order 24 bottles in total as a delivery charge-free bulk order.

6. Wine: SHOT IN THE DARK; Grape(s): Cabernet, Shiraz; Geography: South Eastern Australia; Producer: John Quarisa; Year: 2018; ABV: 14%; Price: £ 10.49

Another silly name, this was offered up as an inexpensive early drinker from a winemaker who has won awards. On the nose were fragrant hints of eucalyptus, sandalwood and vanilla. The taste was rather sweet with mint and soft tannins. Ordinary at best for me, but well received by a number of members.

7. Wine: DIBONIS; Grape(s): Cabernet sauvignon; Geography: Subotica, Serbia; Producer: DiBonis; Year: 2008; ABV: 14%; Price: £ 28.00

First tasted at Novel Wines presentation last February this was their premium offering. This wine is mid-level for DiBonis who loves Old World Bordeaux with New World Cabernet and as a result this wine has spent 24 months in French oak and 12 months in US oak… and then 7 years in bottle. The result is a spicy, minty, woody nose, then a sweet palate of prunes with refined tannins that gets lost. An interesting wine with a lot invested in it which unfortunately does not live up to its price tag.

8. Wine: TERRE DI FIANO ORGANIC PRIMITIVO; Grape(s): Primitivo; Geography: Salento, Puglia, Italy; Producer: Terre Di Fiano; Year: 2018; ABV: 13.5%; Price: £ 7.49

At last a wine that is truly a favourite of a couple of our members. Also, apparently, Waitrose's best-selling Italian red. Partial appassimento in its making, it smelt clean, herby, stalky with hints of fennel and perhaps rubber. In the mouth it was a bit thick and sweet but was clean and balanced with some length. The only real members’ favourite, this wine thoroughly deserved its place in the tasting. By no means outstanding, but punching well above its weight at £7.49.

Overall, for me, the tedious matters of the AGM proved to be more enjoyable than the wines!

Key points from the AGM primarily concerned finances. The subs remain unaltered at £24 a year, however the tasting fee is being raised to £14 after several years at £13. The Christmas party will now attract a reasonable £5 food charge in addition to the usual tasting fee.

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