Red Herring Wine Club

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First event of the New Year - February 2021



The Club is delighterd to announce the first on-line event of 2021 - "Discover the Stars of Port" with Adrian Bridge, Chief Executive of the Fladgate Partnership on Friday 5th February.  For details of the event and how to apply, please go to our Events and Tastings page.



December News including Announcement of our first 2021 Event



Club Chairman, Conal Gregory, Master of Wine, writes:


Thank you to all members who took part in our second tutored tasting since February.  Although it had to be conducted via Zoom, it was great to see so many participate.


Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine, guided the Club through a range of wines that make for ideal enjoyment at Christmas.  German wines are currently out of fashion and so are real value for money.  Richard showed a dry (termed ‘trocken’) Riesling from the Rheinhessen region.  Always try to obtain as young a vintage as possible for this style to ensure its freshness.


The Alsatian Pinot Gris would make a good partner with both fish and poultry dishes.  Richard’s two red choices were a supple light Pinot Noir from NZ’s central Otago region and more robust Priorat from Catalunya in Spain.  The combined Garnacha and Mazuelo (a synonym for Carignan) varieties made the latter a good match for turkey.


The Lidl range is certain eclectic and even includes Canadian Icewine; Richard chose one from the Pillitteri estates.  A half bottle (£13.99) would make a delightful stocking filler.  A 10 year old Tawny Port from the House of Clemente da Silva, founded in 1862, showed the skill of their blender.  The firm has an inventory of old Ports and makes one of the finest whites (under the Dalva and Presidential brands).


For 2001..... As soon as the Club can safely return to tastings in person, we shall advise.  We have carried out a ‘risk assessment’ as we wish members and their guests to be totally safe.


Our plans include Barossa (regarded as the heart of the Australian wine industry), Wines Under the Auction Hammer and the fruit-friendly Wines of New Zealand.


Our galactic event will be the vertical tasting through no less than eight vintages of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild.  The estate stands alone in its feat of being the only chateau from the 1855 Medoc classification to change status.  It gained its richly deserved first growth elevation in 1973 after a 21 year campaign for such recognition by Philippe de Rothschild.


Fewer people have passed the gruelling Master of Wine examinations than have qualified as astronauts.  The Club is therefore delighted that most of these events will be tutored by MWs.  They include Andy Howard, a noted Decanter Magazine columnist, Peter McCombie, one of the senior judges of the International Wine Challenge, and Christopher Burr, a wine auctioneer who has discovered some of the world’s finest cellars


Our first tasting for the new year:  The Club is honoured that Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, makers of Croft, Fonseca and Taylor Ports, will Zoom-tutor a Port tasting.  He will present a range from Portugal.  Please make a diary note now: Friday February 5th at 6.30pm. We shall send out details in good time to enable members to buy the wines.


Payment request:  When paying online or by cheque, please do NOT credit a Committee member!  Our account details are:- 
The Red Herring Wine Club  [Barclays Bank plc: Sort code 20-17-35  /  Account no 23429539]



Wine News



New vine varieties for the region are being trialled.  This has followed earlier harvests as well as many far hotter than ever previously recorded.  The controlling body, the CIVC, is evaluating two red and two white grapes: Artaban, Floreal, Vidoc and Voltis.  They have been picked as resistant to downy and powdery mildew which should mean growers use less fungicide, insecticide and herbicide.



The combination of an early harvest (starting on August 20), high temperatures and reduced yields has resulted in a 2020 vintage of “great promise”, according to Symington’s, who make Dow, Graham and Warre.  July was the hottest ever recorded at Pinhao in the Douro valley and no rain in June or July.  As usual, no decision will be made on whether it will be declared a vintage Port year for 18 months.


Bats saving French vineyards?

French growers are calling on the help of ravenous moth-eating bats to tackle grey rot in their vineyards.  Bat boxes have been installed at several 
Bordeaux estates to encourage the nocturnal creatures to nest in the vineyards and feast upon nuisance moths.  By reducing grey rot, fewer pesticides are being used.  To date, boxes have also been placed in Burgundy and Languedoc.


Robotic pickers:

It has always been illegal to pick grapes other than by hand in Champagne but a harvesting machine has been illegally used for the first time.  The action has caused uproar and death threats to the grower who has been accused of undermining history, not to mention the value of their produce.


Although many French regions permit machines, which can be rented for around 350 euros per hectare (2.47 acres), the practice is forbidden in Champagne, Beaujolais and elsewhere.  By hand, the average picker takes 63 hours to cover the same area that a machine can achieve in just two.  To avoid prosecution, the Champagne farmer claimed the machine was picking grapes to make ratafia (a sweet aperitif by adding grape spirit to fresh grape juice).



Quiz Time


What is the longest distance a cork has travelled when ejected from a Champagne bottle?



The answer to:   How many glasses were used to create the world’s tallest Champagne fountain, how many bottles opened and what height was recorded?  is available on the news page.




Curious fact:  Champagne is the only wine in France that is not required to state its Appellation d’Origine Controlee on the label.




Autumnal News


The latest news from the Club is available on the News page.



Message from Conal Gregory, Master of Wine


New world or old?  Corks or screw caps?  New technology is making itself felt in all aspects of the wine business and the Club felt it was time to launch a website for members.  You'll be able to find all the Club's news, details of tastings and offers on this site and we hope that our New World enthusiasts will find this a more convenient way to find out about the Club's events.  Meanwhile, our Old World devotees will still continue to receive all the Club's news by post.



Following his tutoring of the "Cabernet around the World" tasting held by the Club, Dr Ben Lewin, Master of Wine, commented:


"I liked the impression that the members have a genuine interest in wine, hence some appreciation of the format.  I go to a fair number of tastings in New York where people are more interested in just knocking off the big names or getting bragging rights about cult wines.  So this was a really nice contrast". 



Don't miss the opportunity to join us in tastings from previously unvisited areas and some special events.



News:   On-line Payment


Forthcoming Events:


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