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Red Herring Wine Club News



It is with great sadness that the Club reports the recent passing of two members:  Ashley Davies and Malcolm Rivers.  Both will be very much missed.  We send our heartfelt condolences to their families and friends.



Spring News


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



A thank you to all members who took part in our fourth tutored tasting via Zoom; it was great to see so many join the event.  These tastings allow wine to be enjoyed and tutored without leaving home:



  • Emma Dawson, Master of Wine, on wines from Campania which included both Villa Matilde’s Greco di Tufo 2018 and Altavilla Taurasi 2015, two DOCG stars from this southern Italian province.


  • Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine, gave a ‘Christmas Wine Tour’ from Lidl.  His selection included Canadian Icewine from the Pillitteri estates.


  • Adrian Bridge, Chief Executive of The Fladgate Partnership, which owns such illustrious Port Houses as Croft, Fonseca, Krohn and Taylor.  The range included both a stunning colheita (Krohn 1999, bottled 22 years later) and a fine single estate vintage Port (Fonseca, Quinta do Panascal 2001).  Adrian tutored the Ports from Porto, Portugal’s second city.


  • Ray O’Connor, Master of Wine, Wine Director at Naked Wines, showed a selection from new winemakers. They included Troupis Route Gris 2019 (an orange wine from the Moschofilero vine in the Peloponnese), Montant Franck Massard Vinya Cucut 2017 (based on old Carignan) and Tikves Saga 2019 from North Macedonia made by Marco Stojakovic


Our next Zoom tasting will be by Steve Crosland, Purchasing Director of Tanners Wines, on Friday April 9.   He travels the globe to find exciting wines for Tanners, which is still a family business, established in 1842.  Their innovative approach has won a raft of internationally recognised awards, notably from Decanter Magazine and the International Wine Challenge.  Do join us for this expert tutorial.  Details are on the Events and Tastings page of the website.


As soon as the Club can safely return to tastings in person, we shall advise.  A ‘risk assessment’ has been carried out 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.


Payment request: When paying online or by cheque, please do NOT credit a Committee member!  Our account is The Red Herring Wine Club



Wine News


New vine varieties for Bordeaux:  The official French wine control body (the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualite – INAO) has approved six new vine varieties for Bordeaux.  Four are red (Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, Touriga Nacional) and two white (Alvarinho and Liliorila).  Plantings can start this year and reflect calls by growers to handle different growth cycles and ripening periods in the face of global warming.


Initially the varieties are restricted to the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur appellations.  Scientists have approved six out of 52 examined.  No more than five per cent of a property’s total surface area can be planted with the new varieties and form no more than 10% of any blend.


Already growers can use such varieties as Carmenere, Colombard, Malbec, Mauzac and Ugni Blanc.



Italian sparkling in place of Champagne:  Formula One drivers are to celebrate their success with Italian sparkling wine instead of Champagne for the first time since 1966.  The spraying of Champagne was started by Jo Siffert from Switzerland when he accidentally showered the audience around him upon winning the 24 hours race at Le Mans.  The magnum of Moet et Chandon handed to him had become hot in the sun!


Now sparkling wine from Ferrari Trento, made in the foothills of the Dolomites in north-east Italy, is to be the celebratory wine.  It will be used for the first time at Imola on April 18.  Ferrari Trento has been awarded Producer of the Year three times at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine Championships.



World’s most expensive wine:  An 18 litre bottle of Liber Pater 2011 – producer of the world’s most expensive wine - has been sold by the investment company Oeno to a private client for an undisclosed sum.


Liber Pater has achieved cult status.  The vineyard is in the Graves appellation and covers only 2.5ha (6.18 acres), yielding 1,200 bottles.  Run by Loiec Pasquet, the estate is planted with rare grape varieties from an earlier age, notably Castets, Pardotte and Tarney-Coulant.  The producer claims it tastes like Claret made in pre-phylloxera mid-19th  century days.


The vines are densely planted and the land worked by mule.  In 2019, 240 bottles of the 2015 vintage were released at 30,000 euros (approx £26,400) per 75cl.



Protecting Portuguese wildlife:  Symingtons – known for such Ports as Dow, Graham and Warre – also make light wines.  A contribution from sales of a new wine under its Altano brand will help ‘Rewinding Portugal’, a project to restore landscapes and protect wildlife.  The region covers 120,000ha in the Coa valley of northern Portugal, home to the griffon vulture, Iberian linx and Iberian wolf.


The new wine is a classic Douro red using such vines as Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz.  Instead of bottling in glass, the wine is released in a cardboard bag-in-tube containing 2.25 litres and has a far lower carbon footprint than glass.  Once opened, the wine keeps for 4-6 weeks.  The RRP is £25.99.



Wine from space:  A case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine and 320 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vine canes have returned to earth after 10-14 months in space.  They were exposed to microgravity and higher radiation than on earth.


The project is to assess how vines handle stress and can adapt to changes through climate change whilst the wine will be checked to see what chemical reactions have taken place.  They formed part of a SpaceX cargo capsule.  Its founder, Nicolas Gaume, said, “Wine and vine is like the canary in the coalmine, one of the most sensitive agricultural products, much more sensitive to climate change.”



 Champagne news:  American rapper Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), 51, has sold half his interest in the Armand de Brignac Champagne to LVMH.  It is made by Cattier, based in the pretty village of Chigny-les-Roses.  The brand is known for its metallic label.


Bollinger has introduced a new Champagne:  a pure Pinot Noir called Bollinger PN.  It is non-vintage with reserve wines going back to 2009.  The first wine is based on the village of Verzenay.


Veuve Clicquot has launched the 2012 vintage of La Grande Dame, its prestige cuvee with 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay.  The flower and polka dot design of the bottle and carton was created by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.


Pommery has added two exciting wines:  2004 Cuvee Louise ‘Experience Pommery #15, Introspection and Apanage Blanc de Noirs; the latter is described as “fresh, delicate and ethereal.”




Quiz Time


What is Wuerzer

What is Teoulier and where would you expect to find it? 



Watch for another members mailing for the answer!

(The answer will also be posted lower down this page in due course)




February Tasting - Port Tasting



The Club's first virtual tasting of 2021 took place on Friday 5th February, attended by an impressive number of members and tutored by Adrian Bridge, Chief Executive of the Fladgate Partnership, which owns such prestigious Houses as CroftFonseca, Krohn and Taylor.


Adrian tutored the tasting, "Discover the Stars of Port", from Porto with a scenic view of the city in the background - although he admitted the view was "virtual" (in line with the tasting)!  The actual surroundings in wihch Adrian conducted the tasting from can be seen below:




Adrian, supported by his assistant, Amanda Lloyd (who managed the on-line content from her laptop), provided a detailed and thorough introduction to the Port region, the vineyards and the production methods of the various wines with the help of an informative and engaging presentation showing views of the area, vineyards and inside the lodges.  Following the introduction, six ports of different styles and houses were tasted including the opportunity to start with port and tonic - a refreshing mix of Taylor's "Chip Dry" white port, tonic water, a sprig of mint and a slice of llemon.  The wines shown were:

  • Taylor's Chip Dry White
  • Taylor's Select Ruby Reserve
  • Taylor's Fine Tawny
  • Taylor's Late Bottled Vintage
  • Krohn Colheita Tawny 1999
  • Fonseca, Quinta do Panascal vintage 2001


The event concluded with members asking a range of questions before the call was terminated as time had run out!


The Club's thanks go to Adrain and Amanda for a really well organised and informative tasting and to Doug, the Club's Treasurer, for coordinating the questions posted on-line.


Quiz Answers


The answers to they quiz questions posed previously are:



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




How many glasses were used to create the world's tallest champagne fountain, how many bottles were opened and what height was recorded?


Pascal Leclerc Briant, head of a family Champagne house based in Epernay, created a fountain of 44 tiers of glasses at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, on June 18 1984.  It reached 28ft 8in in height and consisted of 14,404 flutes.  He used 8,000 bottles to create the flow of Champagne!



Most wine is fermented and matured in wood or stainless steel but where would you find glass or gold instead?


A glass one was made for Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey (1er Cru Classe, Sauternes) to mark the estate’s 400th birthday.  The 225 litre ‘barrel’ was created by Lalique and held approximately 300 bottles. It took two years to design and build.  Incidentally, Lefaurie-Peyraguey is one of the most spectacular properties in Bordeaux with 13th century fortifications and 17th century buildings in the Hispano-Byzantine style.


A gold ‘barrel’ was invented by the Champagne house of Leclerc-Briant, a family firm based in Epernay. Founded in 1872, it has substantial vineyards covering 30ha as well as buying in grapes.


The barrel, constructed by GD Industries, holds 228 litres of wine.  Made of stainless steel, it is lined with 24 carat gold, applied using electrolysis.  The initial trial was with the 2016 harvest and the plan is to release the wine next year.  Leclerc-Briant say there is “a resonance between solar energy and wine” and that the gold will increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation.  Let’s see if the wine lives up to marketing hype!



Where is the steepest vineyard in the world?


The vines are planted at a perilous 68 degree angle, making harvest time a hair-raising endeavour.  The location is Bremmer Calmont, a single vineyard above the small town of Bremm on the northern side of the Mosel river in Germany.  Most of the site is planted with Riesling.  Harvesters scale the vines using a network of chairs on rails.


If you would like to taste it, seek Walter Oster’s off-dry Riesling from vines grown on mineral-rich shale.  Look for aromas of lemon, flowers and petrol which combine with a palate of high acidity and a long lime finish.


For comparison, escalators on the London Underground have a maximum 30 degree decline (with Angel station on the Northern line and Bank branch having the longest escalator at 24.4m).  The Douro of northern Portugal has 53% of the world’s steepest vineyards with 18,000ha with a gradient of at least 30 degrees!



The most northerly vineyard is is Lerkekasa vineyard, 100m above sea level, in Norway.  It lies at 59˚  degrees N, making it more northerly than Alaska’s southern border (54.4˚  N).  The vines are planted in a small valley in a former glacier facing Lake Norsjo. Odd and Lill Wolberg grow Solaris and Hasanski Sladki varieties for an appealing pink wine.



The most southerly wine in the world ?  It is not planted in Argentina, Chile or New Zealand.  The answer will be provided here on the Club's website in due course.


The Club continues to welcome payment by cheque but personal, not business, cheques only please.  Cheques must be made payable to "The Red Herring Wine Club".



The Club asks that members and guests dress smartly when attending tastings as many of our venues are prestigious and have dress codes.  Gentlemen are asked to wear a jacket and tie.  Please remember to inform your guests in advance of the event.


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