Past Tastings

10th March
Small Batch Wines

Stephen Hemmingway
Stephen from Peter Watts Wines in Coggsehall led us through a lively tasting with an impressive variety of wines.
The four white wines were an English Tuffon Hall ’Amelie’ Bacchus 2018 from Castle Hedingham, very light in colour with a refreshing fruity taste and easy to drink with a low alcohol content; French three thirty three Viognier 2017 by Graham Gooch from Pays d’Oc, Viognier is Graham’s favourite white grape and this wine exudes a heady bouquet of apricot blossom and is bursting with exotic fruit flavours in the mouth; Les Garrigues de Pierrefeu Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2016, unusually a white wine from this region of France made only in small quantities from local grapes Clairette and Grenache Blanc; and Domaine de la Feuillarde Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes 2017 also French with complex aromas of strong ripe fruit with white flower and honey, and subtle vanilla undertones.
The four red wines were a Spanish Bodegas Santalba Maceración Carbónica Rioja 2018, an atypical Rioja, deep red in colour with purple tones and aromas of raspberry and thyme; French Cuvée 1710 2017 AOP Saint Georges d’Orques Languedoc, a blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes and named after the year when barrels were branded to prevent counterfeits; Argentinian Joffré e Hijas Premium Malbec 2016, Uco Valley Mendoza, a bold and structured typical Malbec; and finally Patritti Saperavi 2015 Barossa Valley from Australia, a rich intense wine flavoured with fruit and oak with plenty of tannins.

 11th February
AGM & Members Wine Quiz
The AGM took place this evening followed by a wine quiz ‘Would I Lie to You’.
For every wine there were three choices – whether you thought it was wine A, wine B or wine C. After all three descriptions, there was then an overview of the choices, by wine number.
The correct answers and prices were:
Wine 1 – B   Sainsbury’s    £11.00   Mlle Ladubay Crémant de Loire 
Wine 2 – B   Sainsbury’s    £13.50   Ascheri Gavi
Wine 3 – A   Liquorice       £13.99   Bon Vallon 
Wine 4 – A  Sainsbury’s    £11.00   Les Neuf Pierres Roulées 
Wine 5 – B   Liquorice       £18.99   Lomas de Leyda Estate Pinot Noir
Wine 6 – C   Sainsbury’s    £9.50     Paso Robles Zinfandel 
No one identified every one correctly!

Wine No. 1
This Crémant de Loire is a sparkling dry rosé made using the “method traditionnelle”, it is a delicious pink fizz produced from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes and bursting with vibrant redcurrant flavours and notes of melon. From the chalky soils of the beautiful Loire Valley, this elegant sparkling wine is made by Bouvet Ladubay, a winery founded in 1851. The soft, “tuffeau” stone of the region has been
excavated to create miles of cellars, perfect for ageing this elegant wine. Great for celebrations – serve with smoked salmon or mini pavlovas.

Wine No. 2
This Italian Gavi is an elegant, crisp, dry white wine made from Cortese grapes that were grown on the hillsides of Italy’s famous Piedmont region. The wine is light and fresh with hints of lemon and grapefruit on
the palate and a long mineral finish. Perfect when served chilled as an aperitif or as an ideal match for shellfish, chicken or pork dishes especially those with citrus based sauces.

Wine No. 3
One thing is clear, the De Wet family of the De Wetshof winery located in the Robertson Valley, South Africa produce some really fine full-bodied oaked Chardonnays and sublime un oaked Chardonnays. This Bon Vallon un oaked variety has a brisk and clean freshness leading into a wide spectrum of classic flavours including citrus, wild flowers and grilled nuts with a nuanced minerality on the aftertaste. Enjoy with oysters, cream-based pasta dishes or roast pork and veal.   

Wine No. 4
The Terrasses du Larzac vineyards are located north west of Montpellier in the Coteaux du Languedoc region. This area is well known for the big, round stones, (pierres roulées) which soak up the Mediterranean sunshine and reflect it up into the vines at night. This traditional blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvedre grapes pack rich, ripe and hearty fruit flavours, a perfect partner for roast meats, stews and hard cheeses.

Wine No. 5
This cool climate Pinot Noir is from the Lornas de Leyda Estate in the Leyda Valley, Chile. This is an elegant wine, ruby-coloured with medium intensity. The aromas are bursting with red fruit, morello cherries, strawberries and fresh herbs. On the palate it reveals morello cherries and pomegranate complemented by gentle tannings and fine oak. This wine pairs well with red and white meat, pasta, fish and cheese.

Wine No. 6
Zinfandel from the US is famed the world over and those from Paso Robles are particularly prized. Brothers Jake and Josh Beckett started up
Chronic Cellars to showcase what the region has to offer and this beautiful and unique red is the result. Rich, ripe and fruity, this delicious Zinfandel ticks all the boxes for red wine lovers, velvety smooth, bags of plum and damson fruit and a vanilla spice kick. Pair with flame grilled burger or a juicy steak.

 14th January 2020

Malcolm Brigg, one of our own members and an oenophile to boot, led an immersive tasting of premium wines from the Iberian Peninsula.
The four white wines were Casa de Vila Verde 2018 from Portugal with a faint fizz typical of vinho verde, almost clear in colour with a flavour of green apples; Porrais Reserva 2018 from the Douro region of Portugal, with a hint of Port flavour and taste of lemon curd; Baron de Barbon 2018 from the Rioja region of Spain, unusually not oaked and quite light, citrussy and racy; Altos Pigeage Chardonnay 2017 again from Rioja, but this time a classic oaked variety with a hint of resin, nuts, cloves and apple and surprisingly a hint of whisky.
The four red wines were Lobo e Falcao 2017 from Tejo in Portugal located north of Lisbon, unusually fermented in stone then stored in French oak for one year; the remaining reds were all from Spain,  Torre Silo 2016, a Tempranillo although not from Rioja, with a fresh taste and oak flavour; Vina Ardanza Reserva 2009 from Rioja Alta, aged in oak for 3 years which provides a deep fruity flavour, rich and intense; and finally the highlight of the evening Marques de Riscal 2013 from Rioja Alta with a surprisingly light, black cherry taste, opulent smooth and silky.

8th October 2019
What people are drinking now!

At the October tasting Nish and Penny from Shenfield Wine Company led us through a contemporary tasting with an impressive variety of wines.
We started with an Estelado Sparkling Brut Rosé from Chile using the rare pais grape, the very first grape varietal brought to Chile in the 16th century; a refreshing start to the evening with the wine served chilled showing small bubbles followed by a lingering fresh peachy finish.
The three white wines were Eden Valley Viognier from South Australia with a particularly distinctive nose, lots of pear and citrus fruit, then a hint of more lush tropicality; Spanish Albariño Family Estate, a fresh and vibrant crisp wine with a salty, mineral flavour; and another wine from Spain, Monopole Rioja with a very smooth finish and blended with the kiura grape.
We then had another rosé wine, this time French Chase En Provence in a very unusual wine bottle with a glass stopper; flavours of redcurrant and red apple made this a very appropriate autumnal quaff.
The three red wines were Winzer Blauer Zweigelt from Austria, made from the zweigelt grape flavoured with a hint of cassis; Portuguese Dom Martinho, a rare blend of unusual grapes and one of the most popular reds in this region; and finally The Hedonist Shiraz from Australia, a biodynamic wine flavoured with pepper and liquorice with a toasty vanilla character and a wide array of ripe almost sweet berry fruit.

10th September 2019
Rugby World Cup Themed Wine Tasting

At the September tasting session , we had a foretaste of the upcoming Rugby World Cup by sampling wines from some of the countries taking part in this global event. Dave and Lucy Whittaker took us around the rugby world with an impressive variety of wines.
The four white wines were Château Mercian Koshu Gris de Gris from Japan with a faint reddish orange hue and subtle vanilla notes, aged in oak barrels; Italian Vite Bianca I.G.T. Veneto Chardonnay with a fresh bouquet and a creamy aroma; Australian Berton Vineyards Eden Valley Chardonnay, a rich, complex wine with generous aromas of white peach, beautifully balanced by spicy oak; and Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve from England with partial ageing in American oak and elderflower and meadow aromas.
The four red wines were Chateau Maine Vieil Fronsac from France- packed with intense black mulberry flavoured fruit and firm but smooth tannins; New Zealand Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir, with an appealing mix of red and dark berry fruits, spice and a gently persistent acidity; Argentinian Cadus Tupungato Appellation Malbec, intense purple in colour with great depth of black fruits, fresh herbal notes and spice; and Cline Old Vine Zinfandel from the USA with a toasty vanilla character and a wide array of ripe almost sweet berry fruit including black cherry and strawberry.

9th July 2019
English Excellence

The subject for this month’s presentation at the Brentwood Wine Society was English wines, which was given by Julie Livsey who is a member of the society. Julie chose wines from three vineyards, Chapel Down in Kent, Denbies in Surrey and Sixteen Ridges in Herefordshire.
Wine number 1 was a classic English sparkling wine made using the Traditional method from 60% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier grapes. A very small portion, (usually between 3-5%) of this wine is from reserve stocks which has been stored in barrel and adds complexity and depth to the palate. The taste is of aromas of baked apple, fresh strawberry and shortcrust pastry which are followed by a rich palate with a fine, smooth mousse. Ideal as an aperitif or an accompaniment to grilled fish or risotto.
Wine number 2 was another sparkling wine which was produced from 100% Bacchus grapes. The wine was fresh and aromatic with intense aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and elderflower. The clean, refreshing palate has an abundance of tropical fruit with bright acidity and a touch of sparkle. Enjoy as an aperitif or with a crisp salad and BBQs.
Wine number 3 was the first still wine which was produced from 100% Bacchus grapes. The wine is aromatic and fresh in style. It has aromas of melon and peach with background floral notes, an ideal pairing to seafood, summer salads or Thai cuisine. Suggested as an alternative to a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine number 4 was also produced from 100% Bacchus grapes. The grapes sourced from the Kit’s Coty vineyard in the North Downs of Kent where the free draining chalk soils and good sunshine result in well balanced intensely flavoured fruit. After maturing in French oak barrels for 9 months the wine exhibits a very ripe style with guava, melon and peach aromas which would an ideal pairing to white crab meat salad, asparagus risotto and lightly smoked fish.
Wine number 5 was the final 100% Bacchus wine which was left to wild ferment for 3 weeks in contact with the skins in stainless steel tanks with regular push downs which is the same way red wine is made. After maturing in French oak barrels the wine exhibits aromas of smoky stewed apple together with hints of citrus rind and an almond like bitterness, an ideal pairing with weightier foods, especially smoked meat or oily fish.
Wine number 6 was the first from Denbies produced from 100% Pinot Gris grapes. The wine is aged for 10 months in old French oak barrels which produces a light golden hue to match its rich nose of honeysuckle, apricot and melon, with hints of beeswax and toasted oak. Serve with roast chicken and creamy pasta dishes.
Wine number 7 was the second from Denbies produced from Muller-Thurgau, Ortega and Bacchus grapes. Harvesting tales place in September and October which ensures that the fruit benefits from early autumn sun. A honeysuckle and peach infused nose leads to a well-balanced pallet, with citrus and stone fruits. A good aperitif wine or serve with spicy food particularly Asian/Chinese.
Wine number 8 was a Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir early red. The fruit was sourced from Ledbury, Herefordshire which produced a medium bodied wine exhibiting ripe cherries, fresh herbs, vanilla and raspberry with a soft oak finish. Serve with lamb chops, cured meats or falafel wraps.

 11th June 2019
Organic Wines
At the recent tasting session of the Brentwood Wine Society, we sampled Organic wines presented by wine expert Mark Soudah. Organic wines are increasing popular, accounting for around 5% of the UK market and growing fast. Organic grape growing does not rely upon synthetic forms of pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers and only wine from certified, organically produced grapes can claim to be organic on the label and this requires certifying by an external body such as The Soil Association.

The first tasting was a French sparkling wine, Crémant d’Alsace, made using the same techniques as in the making of Champagne, which was a gorgeous, stylish fizz with aromas of citrus and flavours of apples with hints of brioche.
The three white wines were El Renegado from Valencia and was aromatic yet fresh with tropical fruit flavours and aromas; Alaun from a small family-owned winery in Austria with wonderful hints of minerals and citrus fruits of the Grüner Veltliner grape; and South African Pekin White from Jonty’s Ducks which famously use Pekin Ducks to find and eat snails to prevent damage to their grapes.
The four red wines were El Renagado which was soft oak aged, juicy red, and velvety smooth; El Abuelo, also from Spain, with dark berry flavours, juicy tannins and a touch of spice; Argentinian Piedra Negra, a classic Malbec, with soft rich, brambly flavours; and finally Pekin Red from Jonty’s Ducks with an explosion of blackcurrant flavours and hints of dark chocolate.

14th May 2019
Members Presentation
At the May tasting session of the Brentwood Wine Society, we had a variety of wines presented by our own Members who did an excellent job in showcasing their own personal favourites accompanied by vivid descriptions of the wines and their provenances.

We tasted four white and four reds. The first white was Graham Beck Brut NV from South Africa which got the evening off to a sparkling start. Next up were two contrasting wines from Spain, Nisia Verdejo and Raimat Saira Albarino which were contrasting yet complementing in a good way. The last white was Italian Passimento Bianco Pasqua, a ‘Juliet’ to the red presented later.
The first red was 2014 Cote de Duras from France followed by a very powerful showstopper, Barossa Ink Shiraz from Australia. The ‘Romeo’ Italian Passimento Pasqua was then presented, proving a worthwhile partner to the white ‘Juliet’. Lastly the Elysium Black Muscat was tasted with accompanying extremely dark chocolate which brought out the delicate sweetness of the wine.

9th April 2019
Blind Bubbles
At the April tasting session of the Brentwood Wine Society, we had a “Blind Bubbles” tasting presented by wine expert Alison Moller.

We tasted four groups of paired sparkling wines and after each pairing we were asked, using a show of hands, which one of the pair of wines that were tasted blind, we preferred. In most cases there was pretty much a 50:50 split which means that there is nothing right or wrong about choosing the best wine, it is just a matter of taste.
The first pair was Crémant de Jura 2016 which was very pale and refreshing and Comte de Senneval, slightly darker and toasty. Both wines were French.
The second pair was Hunter’s Miru Miru from New Zealand which was quite complex and Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier from France with a long-lasting finish.
Third pairing was Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir from Australia which was pale pink with a subtle fruitiness and Flint Valley Charmat Rose 2017 from Norfolk, dark pink and quite sweet. The Flint Valley vineyard was recommended by Alison as a good place to visit.
Last pair was Ridgeview Bloomsbury from Sussex which was beautifully intense and Laurent Perrier 2007 Millésimé Brut, slightly sharp but a superb French classic champagne and judged the best of the evening.

12th March 2019
Hungarian Rhapsody
At the March tasting session of the Brentwood Wine Society, we sampled the wines of Hungary presented by wine expert Richard Bost. Hungary has been producing wine since Roman times and by the 5th century AD, there are records of extensive vineyards. Hungary is well-known for Bull’s Blood and also for Tokaji dessert wine, famously christened by Louis XIV of France as the “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”.

We tasted four white wines followed up with three reds, the final being the sweet Tokaji dessert wine.
The white wines were Majestic Loves Gruner Veltliner 2017 which was very pale with a slight nose though dry and refreshing with a long finish; Beres Tokaji Dry Furmint 2016 which was quite pale with a slight plastic nose which gave way to a slightly musty finish, with a mixed response from the tasters; Nyakas Irsai Oliver 2018 which was very pale with fragrant nose and sharp with floral hints; and Tokaji Nobilis Hars 2015 which was golden yellow with a Riesling-like nose and tasted dry and honeyed with brilliant balance.
The red wines were Takler Kekfrankos 2017 which was dark red with a virtually non-existent nose and slight fruit taste; Kadarka Blau 2017 which was a light red with very little nose and a slight finish; and Bock Porta Geza 2016 which was a very dark, intense red with good fruit.
The sweet white wine to finish was Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2013 which was golden yellow with slight sweetness and was an excellent top-notch dessert wine.