Vintage Club Newsletter. Autumn 1999

Here they are and I think it's a big Well Done and thanks to Billy ~Boy

Vintage Club Tasting Saturday 23rd October 1999

Notes by Bill Martin

The tasting was kindly hosted by Mark Masento at his home in Spital in the Wirral, which was very brave considering his newly fitted lounge carpet! The theme this time was Royalty. People arrived from about 13:00 onwards exhibiting varying degrees of panic given the start time of 12:30, but Chris reassured everyone there was plenty of leeway allowed with people travelling from afar. When all were assembled, we tucked into an excellent buffet lunch provided by Mark which included chilli stuffed olives guaranteed to grab the attention of the diners. Whilst not the most usual pre-tasting fare they received pretty much universal approval. Mark got everyone into tasting mode by encouraging us to identify a nutty flavoured orange cheese with a black rind not unlike Gruyère in taste. This turned out to be a mature Gouda, and very pleasant too. Following lunch, Mark poured a white for us to sample during official business...

The meeting was chaired by Chris Kay. Others in attendance were Ed Kay and baby James, Mark Masento, Guy and Philippa Nason, Ed and Sue Moya with baby Javier, Gareth Barker, Roger Jardine, and Bill Martin. Apologies were received from Alison Drasdo, Tim Robinson, Jacqui Cutts, Eb Coates, and Quentin Lambert. Guy as Treasurer reported that the Club account has a balance of just over £200. He is happy to continue in this role and agreed to look into transferring the money into a high interest instant access account if possible. Chris reported on the Millennium Tasting planning and confirmed that the cottage was now booked from mid-day Saturday 29th April to the morning of Tuesday 2nd May 2000 at a cost of around £25 per head. The general itinerary will be along the lines of visiting at least one Champagne house, the first possibly at 16:00 on Saturday with the main tasting to be held on Sunday or Monday. Travelling arrangements are still to be decided with suggestions welcome from all. The idea of a tasting in Bath or Bristol around the time of New Year was put forward for people to consider. Some people had already made plans and others wanted to keep their options open so no decision was taken as yet. Chris will be continuing her sterling work as Chairperson but wanted to share out some of the secretarial duties now she has James to look after, so it was agreed that tasting notes would be taken and written up by other members in rotation starting with Bill.

1) So what was that wine? 'Grapefruit juice and vodka' was one observation. Ed Moya preferred 'Tinned peaches'. Guy thought English or possibly German. 'Scheurebe' was offered by Philippa. Mark ruled out English so Guy went for Austrian which was acknowledged as a good guess but it was in fact Welsh! This proved to be a new experience for some, and not a bad one at that.

'Ty-Haford' Welsh Table Wine (no producer given), 1996, South Wales, 10%, £3.99 from Tesco. Grapes, Madeleine Angevine, Seyval Blanc, and Huxelrebe. Theme, translates to 'Kings Urine'. Mark was pulling our plonk with that suggestion!

2) The next white was another from Mark. 'Peppermint' was the immediate impression of the nose from Guy and Chris, also described as 'Gooseberry', 'Greenness' with 'Green stalks' from Ed Kay, the peppermint now clearing somewhat. Chris tasted 'Appley' to which Guy added 'Caramelised', others now picking up on the apple with 'Stewed apple'. Ed Kay ventured 'Not Chardonnay' whilst Roger focussed on the long clingy 'Mouthwash aftertaste'. 'Chateau Listerine!' was quipped. Riesling was favoured with Ed Kay suggesting 'Marsanne' and Guy 'Chardonnay' justifying with 'It often masquerades as another grape'. Getting creamier now. Mark pointed to a well known grape sweetness present. A Chenin Blanc! Not from the Loire or South Africa however, but Australian.

'Blue Tongue' Chenin Blanc by Howard Park, 1998, Western Australia, £8.99 from Selfridges. Theme, blue as in blue blooded, meaning of royal descent. Or was that blue as in mouthwash?

Clouds darkened the Wirral sky. Should Mark bring in the laundry? Too late it's raining...

3) Ed and Sue Moya provided this next wine. A light white in colour. 'Almost sweaty' Mark says removing his nose from the glass. Ed Kay detects 'A bit of oak'. People agree this is very big. 'Must be Chardonnay' Ed Kay becoming more confident. Some wonder Spanish, it is from Ed Moya after all. 'Viura?' questions Mark, then offering 'Ygay'. Others feel it is a straightforward Chardonnay surely? Maybe late 80's. Someone jumps in with 'Rioja 88 or 89'. Ed opts for 'White Burgundy'. 'Not too steely' from Philippa. 'Marqués' we guess may be the royal connection, but what? Chris thinks 'Spanish but not Rioja. Torres have a Chardonnay don't they?'. Finally all is revealed, it's an oaked Chablis, with Ed Kay spot on while others ended up lost in Spain somewhere.

'Vielles Vignes' by Emmanuel Dampt, 1993, Chablis, £5 - 6 bought 3 or 4 years ago in Bath area. Theme, Ed Moya reckons Dampt is royalty, likely story! Impressive tartaric salt in the bottom of the bottle.

4) Ed and Chris Kay's turn with this white. 'Ooh that's sweet' Roger purses. Mark smells 'Bit of natural gas in this'. 'Strawberries and kerosene' is remarked as people start to sip, followed by groaning and coughing as if not prepared for the taste. 'That's Riesling!' some cry. Quickly getting accustomed to it, others pick up 'Limey' and 'Steely nose'. Unmistakably a Riesling is the consensus. Ed Kay drops into the conversation that he got told what Gareth's purchase was when visiting Oddbins, causing Gareth to splutter on his wine. Ed was keen to point out the discovery was unprompted on his part. The acidity of this wine carries through the sweetness, tasting of 'Neat lime cordial'. German, Spätlese emerges. 1995 is offered for the year. It is actually 1997, seeming to have more age though.

Groebe 1997 Westhofener Kirchspiel, Riesling Spätlese, 8%, £10 reduced to £8.50 from Oddbins. Theme, Rheinhessen - 'Reign Hussein'. The word tenuous was invented for moments like these.

Guy turns to Philippa saying 'We ought to get more German wine...' eliciting the retort 'You would still open the red!' resulting in much laughter. Good to see our loving couple are well into the stride of married life. Quick look at the results on Teletext, Wales are 9:10 against Australia in the rugby.

5) Onto the reds, this first from Ed and Sue Moya. Light in colour with brown tinge. Nose indicating age. Slightly sour taste inspires a comment of 'Sour damson'. What is it, Pinot? Rioja? Italian? People are falling in line with the Italian idea apart from Guy 'Not 100% anything at the moment', with Ed Kay firming up with 'Northern Italian'. Chris Kay is sure it's a Pinot which was Bill's first impression. In light of Chris's excellent record of identifying Pinot, it is re-evaluated, jammy? Yes, could be but it has certainly aged. 'Don't rush this one' says Guy still holding fire. He then decides Pinot Noir. So how old? Mark opts for 89 but others feel it is younger with 92 and 94. The bottle is revealed, it's a Burgundy. Got there in the end.

Fixin 'Clos De La Perriere' Premiere Cru by Philippe Joliet, 1990, Burgundy, 13.5%, £10 bought 5 years ago in Beaune. Theme, Prince Philip (Philippe).

6) Mark provides the next red which is actually very brown. 'This is a difficult one' says Guy holding back once again, while Roger is more confident with 'Old and French'. Guy puts a toe in the water with 'Burnt' getting the agreement of Ed. Then Guy's reticence crumbles with a rather early 'Could be Argentina' raising a gasp. 'Argentinean Malbec' being more specific. Other opinions are 'Cooling menthol' when swallowed, 'Some leather as well'. 'Definitely sweet' from Ed Kay. 'This is French' says Bill, mentioning it could be the same as his. Oops, now he can't say anything else without giving his own game away. Roger finds a 'Porty nose' indicating it is sweet and old. Ed Moya commits himself with 'New Zealand Pinot' but most think it is Old World by now. Ed Kay says 'The wine making is old fashioned and not that brilliant'. The group arrive at French, probably a Bordeaux, with 90, 94 and 88 offered as the vintage. 'Type of wine you can't really put a finger on' is someone's summary. Indeed, as it turns out to be a Châteauneuf Du Pape.

Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Du Vatican, 1992, 14%, £6 from a direct importer. Theme, Vatican. Did someone redefine royalty along the way?

7) Bill decides to follow with his red. 'Lost weight around the bottom' is jokingly observed during the pouring. No, not a comment on Bill's anatomy, but on the bottle shape as Bill is renowned for favouring Rhônes. 'Blackcurrant, mulberry' are fruits immediately picked out. People settle for Bordeaux quite quickly. 'Minty Bordeaux' and 'Bit of Cabernet Franc coming through' support this. Some feel it is young, probably 96 or 97 claret. Mark suggests a good time capsule would be to bury a magnum of 1982 Bordeaux in the garden. Guy detects 'High percentage of Cabernet Franc' opting for 'Pomerol'. Mark correctly spots the connection as 'Baron' from Baron Philippe De Rothschild. That turned out to be a fairly clinical identification.

Baron Philippe De Rothschild Pauillac, 1996, 12.5%, £9.99 reduced to £7.99 from Sainsbury's. Grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot. Theme, Baron, well done Mark.

8) Roger goes next. Philippa swears this one is 'Chocolate!'. 'Bloody lovely' Philippa swears! 'Maltesers' is proffered but Mark prefers 'Big black plums' (does his wife know about this?). People combine the chocolate with cherries coming up with 'Cherry chocolate liqueurs' and 'Black Forest gateaux'. 'Are you Steve Mills in disguise' Guy asks of Roger inferring Australian which is Steve's bent, going on to say 'This is gorgeous'. Sue turns to Ed and announces 'We're going to buy some'. So what is the country ? Bill goes for Chile and gets it right.

Caballo Loco Number 3 Lontue, no vintage shown, Chile, 13.5%, £14 from Waitrose. Theme, Caballo Loco translates to 'Crazy Horse' apparently, giving an obvious connection with Princess Anne. Make of that what you will.

Quick break for results. Guys picks up the TV remote control the wrong way around. Mark tells him 'Point it the other way otherwise you'll turn yourself on'. Australia have beaten Wales 24:9. Arsenal recover from 0:2 down to beat Chelsea 3:2.

9) The following wine is from Gareth. Guy says 'Mackerel', while Gareth chips in 'Fish food'. Ed Kay has to keep quiet on this having been informed by his spy in Oddbins. Roger continues 'Tea bags' while Chris goes for ' Raspberry compote'. 'Almost sicky' says Ed Moya, 'Sickly' suggests Bill, 'No, sicky!' insists Ed who then adds 'Metallic'. 'Chateau Musar in it's range and complexity' is Guy's analysis 'A modern Musar'. People are not sure about the grape variety. 'Fish' keeps rearing it's head. Mark suggests Zinfandel. Not Grenache. Zinfandel is confirmed, leading to California as the likely place of origin. 'Pescatore' says Philippa for the fish connection. Hang on, we're looking for royalty. Philippa reassesses and goes for Cardinal Zin. Correct! People agree the wine is very good in spite of the somewhat uncomplimentary description.

Bonny Doon 'Cardinal Zin', 1997, California, 13%, £8.99 from Oddbins. Theme, Cardinal. The royalty theme is once again usurped by a religious pretender. 10) This wine from Guy and Philippa is poured in rather generous portions by Guy who manages to empty the entire bottle! 'Darkness', 'Oak' are the opening comments. Ed Kay reckons 'Cabernet based' following with 'Possibly California'. 'Definitely Cabernet' says Chris ' More held back than the last one'. Ed Moya observes 'Too sweet for claret', people agree. Then he plumps for 'Barossa Shiraz basket pressed jobbie'. Mark asks if anyone is New World on this. Majority reply yes. Mark thinks it maybe French. Others think Australian, Roger going for 'California' returning to Ed Kay's starting point. 'Not a blend' is a clue from Guy so it must be a straight Cabernet then. Yes, and it is indeed Californian.

'Clos du Val' Cabernet Sauvignon, 1994, Stags Leap (the area, not to be confused with the vineyard of the same name, identified as the best viticultural area in the Napa Valley) California, 13%, £12 from the vineyard. Theme, three naked women on the label is given as the connection with royalty. Hmm, so which one is the Queen Mother then Guy?

Quick nappy change for Javier. A teenage girl walks past the house glancing incredulously at the row of empty bottles amassing on the window sill...

11) Ed Kay pours this next from his 'sample' bottle having decanted it. It's old, 'Early 90s Amarone' suggests Ed Moya. People reminisce about the tasting at Ed Moya's where, by a quirk of fate, three Amarones featured. Then Ed reneges with 'No not Amarone'. The rest of the Masento family return from a day out. People are going off the idea of it being Italian. Mark states 'I think it's past its best' being slightly controversial , and Ed Kay defends with 'It was too big and raw two years ago'. 'Lots of tannin', 'Austere' and 'Does not have the fruitiness as previously' are other impressions. 'Something French' is now Ed Moya's choice. Guy has built up to the decision 'It is Italian'. 'Yes' confirms Ed Kay. Guy with confidence specifies 'Barolo'. Yes it is! The post mortem is 'Not very distinctive' from Guy, 'Bit thin' comments Ed, but 'Elegant though' from Mark.

Vigna Farina by Cantine Ascheri Giacomo, 1993, Barolo, £15 from Sainsbury's. Theme, 'Barolo - Wine of kings, King of wines'. That's more like it!

12) The last wine is a sweet white from Guy and Philippa. Mark jumps in first 'Definitely Sauvignon' then refining 'Sauvignon/Semillon'. Guy helps out with 'Not French'. Mark, stopping to consider the recent Nason honeymoon at Lake Garda, asks of Philippa 'Anywhere you might have picked up an interesting Italian?', receiving the witty response 'No, I was there with my husband!'. Guy tells us 'You have all drunk the dry version'. 'Soave' realises Mark. Trebbiano! Tres bien.

'Gini Col Foscarin' Recioto di Soave Classico, 1996, 30,000 lira (~£10) for half bottle from Italy. Theme, 'Old rich royal people are suave. Soave see?' explains Philippa then admitting 'Actually it came off our rack and we couldn't be arsed'. My word! Some people just don't take this theme thing seriously.

OK, so what got the peoples votes? The system this time was one vote for the whites and two each for the reds. The results for the whites were that the majority preferred 4), the Riesling which received 8 votes, the only other contender being 3), the Chablis with 2 votes. Of the reds 8), Roger's Caballo Loco was a clear winner amassing for the first time a full 10 votes, followed by 10), the Clos du Val with 5, 6), the Châteauneuf Du Pape with 2, and 5), the Fixin, 9), Cardinal Zin and 11) the Barolo runners up with one vote each.

Another good tasting everyone agreed, tucking into the remains of the wine before setting out into the rainy evening for The Louisiana Exchange, a family friendly Tex Mex restaurant, staffed by waiters with Liverpudlian banter and populated mainly by groups of teenage girls. The Southern style food gave people chance to revisit the earlier chilli experience, and some opted to wash it all down with jugs of beer and Long Island Iced Teas. By the time one or two giant ice cream desserts had been polished off, we were all suitably stuffed, bringing the day to a contented close.

Chris Edmead