Club Chairman, Conal Gregory, Master of Wine, writes:
Thank you to all members who took part in our eigth 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:
Our next Zoom tasting will be "Wines Under the Hammer" and will be tutored by Christopher Burr, Master of Wine, Consultant to Chiswick Auctions. This promises to be a stunning tasting, starting with Dom Perignon Brut 1993, and will be our first physical tasting post lockdown. Details are on the Events and Tastings page of the website.
The Club is keen to return to physical tastings in personand has a ‘risk assessment’ in place 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
High yields tame high alcohol: Brunello di Montalcino producers are encouraging higher yields to counter rising levels of alcohol. The owner of Tenute Silvio Nardi, Emilia Nardi, says that grapes with less sugar means flavour and character do not have to be lost but lower alcohol is the result. The intense heat in recent years has seen average 15.5% alc/vol in wines but Brunello makers prefer more elegant Sangiovese.
Celebrity wine: Cameron Diaz has created a limited edition sparkling pink wine under the Avaline brand. It is to be launched in 375ml bottles. The grapes are grown organically and described as "vegan-friendly".
China plans to expand production in the Ningxia region which is effectively a desert with irrigation from the Yellow River. Its vines cannot survive winter without burying them - and subsequently unearthing them. Currently about 130m bottles, accounting for a quarter of Chinese production, originates in Ningxia, most of which is Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller plantings of Carmenere and Merlot.
Computer taster: A computer has been programmed to taste wine. 'Tastry' is a company which uses artificial intelligence, analytics and flavour chemistry methodology to gain an insight into the flavours of wine. Apparently it can predict 93% of times how consumers will score a wine.
What is Pico?
Who wrote “Claret is the liquor for boys”?
What style of wine is Rosette and where is it produced?
What is the name of the still pink Pinot Noir wine made in the southern Champagne district of the Aube?
(The answer will also be posted lower down this page in due course with the answers from previous questions)
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 Croft, Fonseca, 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:
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.
The answers to the quiz questions posed previously are:
What is Wuerzer?
A cross between Gewuztraminer x Mueller-Thurgau vines which was made at the German viticultural station in Alzey in 1932. Most of the plantings have been in the Rheinhessen region of Germany.
What is Teoulier and where would you expect to find it?
It is an old red vine variety from Provence.
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.