Phew, wot a scorcher!

Saturday morning came upon us and there wasn't even the need to leave a message on Ed's answering machine.

The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, it looked like the tenth anniversary tasting weekend was going to be a success. Then it dawned on a number of people that England were due to play Scotland at Wembley that afternoon, while we were having our tasting. What fool arranged this clash? Ahem. Yes, well.

The bread man cometh As is the norm with Bath tastings, there were about a dozen or so hungry people waiting for the lunch to arrive, as Ed and Chris had spent a hassle strewn morning in Sainsbury's and finally arrived at about one o'clock. People began to devour the food with relish. By this stage it was getting very, very hot. The delicious and rather splendid cake (even if I do say so myself) was beginning to show signs of wear and tear as some of the icing started to melt in the sun.

There were a number of young lads kicking footballs around on the grass, but as the afternoon progressed they slowly disappeared to get drunk on premium lager and watch the imminent rerun of an old battle between the whites and the blues.

With lunch over and done with, some of the partners decided to go off and wander around town rather than partake of the grape with the rest of us, so we were whittled down to 24 people for the tasting itself. Most people had heeded the warning about numbers and had combined to buy two bottles of better quality wine.

After tidying up a little, there were groans when we had to remind folks that there was a little official business to attend to before the tasting could get underway. Firstly there were thanks to Ed and Chris for the lunch, splendid that it was, and to the founder members of the Wine Society to be so far sighted as to continue this love affair with wine. The Vintage Club is, as we can see, getting bigger and it was good to see some of the older members turning up. Anne had left a message on my answer machine the day before saying: a) We have just over a hundred pounds and b) 'I don't want to be treasurer anymore'. A suggestion was put forward that the job of treasurer and secretary could be combined as there isn't an awful lot of work to do. There were no objections to this in principle, but there were concerns that when the club bank account was set up there needed to be two signatories and so this might be a deciding factor. I have asked Anne to look into this for us and hopefully we should hear back from her soon.

The melting cake Seeing as there were sufficient funds available in the kitty to keep the club running smoothly, subs were kept to a miserly £3 each and quite surprisingly everyone gave me their £3. For those of you who weren't there, wait until I hear back from Anne about the set up and I'll let you know where to send the money soon.

Then we got onto the more serious matter of the tasting.

In time honoured fashion we started off with our standard brief introduction. 'My name is... and I do...'. This year we seemed to be overrun with Chemists and Chemical Engineers who will all swear blind that they have nothing to do with one another. Why do they share a building on campus then, eh? Answer that!

The Wines.

White wines:

White 1: Tim

An initial bottle of sparkling to get the tasting underway in the searing afternoon heat. A magnum of Veuve Cliquot 1985 which as Tim says is about the same age as the Vintage Club. During the tasting of this wine we discovered that there were to be only ten wines tasted during the day. It also transpired that Mark agreed to arrange the tasting for the year 2000, as he has a few ideas up his sleeve.

White 2: Quentin, Jacqui, Gary.

Another bottle of fizz, this time to be tasted blind. Golden yellow with hints of pink. Ed thinks it was new worldy. People were very quiet and there were some general mutterings about the colour being very deep etc. One of the bottles had bigger bubbles than the other. Someone said it smelled like attics, had a high chardonnay content. The older members plumped for the new world. Mark suggested our old friend Omar Shariff (Khayyam) from India but was wrong as it turned out to be:
Yalumba 'D' 1988 Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay. £11 Avery's Bristol. The link being 'D' sounds like 'dix', french for 'ten'.

White 3: Paul

Paul stated that there was no link with this wine as he had bought it well before he knew the theme. It was getting very hot now, at 14:45 and the footballing people were disappearing to watch the match. This wine smelled of lychees and then again of lychees. 'Good for bad breath' from some wag in the crowd. Very rich, creamy. Mark gets in with 'more rambutan than lychee' Tim gets excited by Paul's builders cleavage as he bends over to pour the wine. Thoughts of Vendange Tardive, obviously from Alsace, and it turned out to be:
Domaines Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Cuvee Speciale 1989. Bought in a local supermarket, on offer from £12 down to £6.

White 4: Mark and Tim

Rich golden yellow, smelling old, of nuts, almonds. 'Airing cupboard wine' 'Sherry' 'Fox original' Mark suggests that it might have once been German. Paul gives this the thumbs down. It has tremendous length, in fact you just can't get rid of the stuff. It was, at one stage in its life:
Alsace Gewurztraminer 1983 Vendange Tardive. I didn't get the producer, but the wine was stolen from a wineshow in the year that the Wine Society became.

White 5: Mike

A light golden yellow with a touch of haze. Nose of marzipan, honey and cardboard. A number of people suggest a Chenin Blanc from the Loire, perhaps a Coteaux du Layon or similar. It turns out to be:
Domain de la Motte, Coteaux du Layon-rochefort 1981. It was bought from the vineyard and Mike tries in vain to think of a reasonable connection with the theme. At this stage, Simon is talking about something that is only 'the size of my little finger'

Red wines:

Red 1: Georg and Sabine

Light purply-red wine... cherry red. Cherries on the nose, cherry stones, almonds. Quite sweet with a touch of tannin and quite savoury. Only the older members talking about the wine at this stage, all the kiddies are chatting amongst themselves once again. A lot of people think it's Italian, but Ed falls back to his old favourite of 'one of those odd German red grape varieties'.
Domiane du Grand Montmirail, Gigondas. 1986. £8.16 from Wolfson College, Oxford, cellaring. The link being that it's ten years old.
Red 2: Karen, Niel, Matt.

This wine is HOT. It has been left sitting in the sun for too long. The wrapping is a rather pleasant purple with yellow flowers. A deep cherry red colour. Mark can smell shitty farmyards, but is turns out to be one of Pauls farts. Savoury blackcurrant (the wine, not the fart), complex, rich and long. The oldies come to some sort of consensus on an 85/86 Medoc and it turns out to be:
Chateau Bel Orme 1986, Haut-Medoc. £10 Davidsons Wine Merchants. The link, rather obviously being that the wine is ten years old.

Red 3: Steve, Simon, Roger, Gareth and Icarus.

'This is a Paul Savage wine!' 'Humpty-Dumpty nose' (whatever that means). Deep puprle colour. 'Big, bold, buxom' Roger decides far too late that he ought to put some sun cream on his head. This is far too late and causes hysterics. Steve tries, as ever, to force the issue by getting people to guess. The old lot have Steve sussed and suggest a Penfolds fat Cabenet/Shiraz, but it turns out to be:
Mas de Daumas Gassac 1986. 7 varities but mainly Cabernet Sauvignon. A new wave wine from Languedoc, actually classified as a Vin de pays de l'Herault. £25 Avery's Bristol. Steve takes great pleasure in telling people that the wine cost £25/bottle.

Red 4: Mark

Light blood red, rich cedar nose. Tons of fruit and good chewy tannins. Mike thinks it smells like red wine. Most people are chatting amongst themselves again. Those who are interested say Bordeaux, and it turns out to be:
Chateau Canon 1983, St Emillion 1er Grand Cru Classé. The link was, perhaps made up right now, 'you have cannons at celebrations, and this is certainly a celebration'. 8 years ago this wine cost about £25, but this bottle was once again stolen from a wine show.

Red 5: Ed and Chris

Rich, purply-red wine. 'Smells like homemade wine'. Bill speaks for the first time in the tasting... 'Sweet bananas and blackcurrants'. Others say bananas. Very sweet. Tim suddenly reminisces about sun and sex, perhaps due to the wine. Paul thinks it is very port like, others suggest Italian? Recioto? It turns out to be:
Masi Recioto 1993. £10 Oddbins. The link was made by Chris when she saw the bottle, with the word 'RECIOTO' looking like 'rec 10 to'. Duh!

Sweet 1: Guy, Bill, Philippa, Cath, Liz

Rich golden yellow. For some reason everyone stands up. Then they all sit down again. Mike takes a photo and everyone gets back to the wine. Rich botrytis, sweet. Yum Yum! Pineapple chunks. Mark suggests Chateau Rieussec, a 1er Cru Sauternes and it turns out to be:
Chateau Rieussec 1986 1er Grand Cru Sauternes. £25 Averys Bristol.
Everyone agreed that all of the wines were spectacularly good, and not a bum wine in there (almost), although Icarus did suggest that even the oxidised wine was excellent (he didn't actually say when it had been excellent, but I'm sure this just slipped his mind). The voting then got underway for the faves, and people wanted to have nine votes each, but we managed to get one each, although most people said that it was too difficult to say. People wanted to one vote per bottle, but we managed to force one each for the whites and two for the reds. The results, in reverse order were:
0 votes		Alsace Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive 1983
1 vote		Yalumba 'D' 1988
4 votes		Domaine de la Motte 1981
8 votes		Domaines Schlumberger 1989
10 votes	Veuve Clicquot 1985

0 votes		Chateau Bel Orme 1986
1 vote		Domaine du Grand Montmirrail 1986
11 votes	Chateau Canon 1983
13 votes	Nasi Recioto 1993
15 votes	Mas de Daumas Gassac 1986

The post tasting drink up was performed in what can be described as a most convivial atmosphere. Paul Savage had brought a large green crate loaded up with beer with him from Belgium and was handing out bottles to those people whose wines he felt were particularly nice. I don't think anyone was left out and so we all had something extra to sample as the afternoon progressed. During this time there were discussions about tasting venues for the coming year and it was noted that there were a number of people living in the London area, so we could hold a tasting there. And with Chris now a post-doc at Imperial, Mark suggested that she could get a room for a tasting, but whatever she does, don't mention his name! Also at this point, one of our new members, Icarus, suggested that his brother's converted barn in Normandy might be available. Plans are afoot to organise a weekend next spring at this rather splendid sounding venue.

Mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun Then came the time everyone was waiting for: The Rounders Match! By this time, there was plenty of space on the grass, as most people were tucked away watching the football, and so we spread ourselves out and organised a game. The usual arguments about the rules started but were instantly quashed when Mark suggested we had an umpire, and it fell to me. As there had been a rounders tournament on campus the week before, I tried to remember as many of the rules as I could and invoked them on an ad- hoc basis. The group was split between those born in an even year and those born on an odd year.

After one innings, the scores were level. Refreshments were called for and a party was sent out and returned with a couple of cold Ozzie sparklers which went down rather well. The second innings was as controversial as the first and again ended in a draw. There were a number of comments about the lack of Stuart to kick people as they ran past and others tried to emulate his aggressive nature with a modicum of success.

There was then an hours respite until the meal. Woods was, as it generally is, packed with people that evening, and the food was superb. There was a little delay in getting started and one group almost didn't get their desserts, but all in all it was an excellent meal. Another new member, Pat, arrived at the meal with her suitcases after having just flown in from Helsinki and spent a good hour moaning about how awful her trip had been. There was then a football match to watch, so Georg and I returned home and watched the whole 90 sorry minutes. The commentating left a lot to be desired!.

The next morning saw a good turnout for the pitch and putt at Victoria Park. The weather was just as hot and sunny and there was a lot of bright red skin still exposed. We were once again split into two teams by Mark, this time odd and even dates of birth. With 7 per side, we split into four groups and started play on the 12 hole course. An excellent time was had by all, both those who had never held a golf club before and those who play regularly. The scoring was very tight, with the evens winning by 7 shots. We then decanted to the Pulteney Arms for lunch, and discovered the TV in the back room and had great fun discovering who watches Eastenders. Some people knew all the plot lines and all the characters! The Germany-Russia game came on and those that were left watched the first half at the pub and the second half, via Threshers to Quentin and Jacqui's new place.

A splendid time was had by all, see you all again soon!

STOP PRESS: Matthew Henry John Bailey was born at 8:10am on Saturday
29th June after 6 1/2 hrs weighing 8lb 7oz. I'm sure we all wish Caz,
David and the little one all the best.