Whilst the group takes a break during August, we look back to the July tasting when we went ‘island hopping’ with our wines. If we cannot go to the warm islands because of travel restrictions, the islands can still come to us with their wines. We chose wines from Sicily, Sardinia, the Greek Islands, Australia and England among others. What a rich choice to taste together, despite the rain outside, there was sunshine in our glasses. Xinomavro from Greece, Zibibbo, Grillo and Nero D’Avola from Sicily, Chapel Down Flint from England, Maia from Siddura in Sardinia to name but a few. A great convivial gathering, we might as well have been on the beach!
Assyrtiko’, Moschofilero, Malagousia, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphni, Xinomavro’…. if it’s all Greek to you, it was certainly was for the Wine … and More Group too.
Little did the Group know that all these wonderful Greek grapes, and wines, are available right here, in Crouch End. It took just a little inspiration, a little guidance and members were off with their wine shopping list. And what a discovery it was for everyone. They all loved these gorgeous wines, introducing welcome new tastes to their palate, with Marks & Spencer scoring high for their newly introduced Found range which features a delicious Moschofilero & Roditi, and Waitrose’s Atma Assyrtiko from north-western Greece, with its minerality and live citrus flavours, made by the esteemed winemaker Apostolos Thymiopoulos. And whilst Retsina has come a long way and it’s now a truly lovely wine (Kourtaki Retsina is available from Sainsbury’s at around £6) there was so much to explore and enjoy. On the night, we said Yassas! That’s Cheers! in Greek and toasted a new taste sensation.
Raise a glass – Gesondheid!
This month the The Wine … and More Group raised a glass to South African wine. South Africa has been hit by three wine export bans over the last 12 months, forcing many wine producers to go out of business or sitting on huge amounts of unsold wine. The wine world has responded with fund raising events and by encouraging everyone to purchase more South African wines, to help shift stocks and create more demand. The group did their bit with 22 people purchasing a bottle for the tasting. Wine suggestions were provided and on the night most of the producing wine regions were represented and discussed. Those unfamiliar with South African wines were pleasantly surprised by the high quality and the reasonable price of many. The Bruce Jack range really stood out – a wine producer who does a lot for charity as well as making delicious wines. We tasted their Sauvignon Blanc to great acclaim. Also well received was the Zalze Chenin Blanc, the Bellingham Whole Bunch Roussanne and the new and unusual Bosman Ne-Ro, based on the Nero D’Avola grape from Sicily which has found a new home in the sun-rich, water-scarce soil of South African vineyards.
One member commented: Many thanks for this and for last night’s enjoyable and informative tastings. I am especially grateful that you put me on to Bruce Jack wines – a real find.
Another said: My jaw dropped ..I am talking about Zalze in 2021 This huge 13.5% volume was drunk over 3 days without losing fragrance, important. In this Chenin Blanc, I found a floral, pineapple taste.
The Group teamed up with specialist wine company BIB. which supplies high quality wines, not in a bottle, but in a box! The company specially packed six of its new wines for spring in individual 100 ml recyclable pouches, and sent them on to members who ordered them. With 22 people attending on the night, this style of tasting was was undoubtably a popular choice, with everyone enjoying the same wine but in their own homes. The Three Choirs Archa Bacchus from our English vineyards divided audiences, as it often does, but those who loved it, really loved it. The rare and unusual Beaujolais Blanc was a topic of much conversation, whilst the white and red wines from Portugal were much liked, as was the Dominio de Punctum from Spain, from organically farmed vineyards, proved to be an exuberant and expressive wine with layers of bright strawberry and red cherry notes. Along with the Beaujolais Blanc, most liked was Chateau Couronneau Cuvee Clair de Lune from Bordeaux, another organic wine beautifully crafted. This most successful evening provided style and diversity to the monthly tastings.
There is a wine that suits every festive table, whatever the menu, and the we proved just that with the last tasting of the year in December. Members brought wines for the aperitif, for the taster, the main course and the dessert. And what a rich selection!
From Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadine DOCG to Cremant de Loire to Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, what an epic selection of aperitif wines.The evening got even better with the whites, from Macon Aze’ to Gavi di Gavi to name just a couple, and superb reds to include Chateau Senejac and Charteuse de Bonpas. But it was the dessert wines that astounded, starting with a superb Chateau Suduiraut, followed a very unusual Bonny Doon Muscat de Glacier and the delicious Samos Anthemis. Well done everyone for bringing such a diverse choice to the festive table, and we raise a glass to more wine tastings in 2021!
The Group focussed on warming Autumnal wines while also paying homage to a great wine for a great region – Beaujolais. With 19 November being the day when Beaujolais Nouveau is released, we tasted a good selection of Beaujolais Villages, as well as some of the Crus – Brouilly, St Julien, St Amour, to name a few, and rediscovered what makes this wine such a great choice.
We also looked at other wines for Autumn, and we were introduced to a new wine which has just arrived on shelf, Memoro, a stunning blend of four grapes sourced from four different Italian regions, but made in Tuscany by the Piccini family. Because the wine is not region-specific, it cannot be awarded a denomination, being IGT or DOC – it simply classes as Vino da Tavola (table wine) but don’t be fooled. One taste and you are hooked, it’s so smooth, spicy and velvety. Not for nothing it was awarded the Gold Medal by Decanter in 2019! It followed that the shelves cleared out the day after, with members going to some length to source from either Sainsbury’s or Morrisons, and others ordering it on line. And here is what the bottle looks like, in case anyone wants to try it. But be warned: it does sell out quickly!
The month of October always sees the celebration of a much-loved style of wine, the wine from Rioja, arguably Spain’s most famous region. With a range of white, rose’, red and soon to be sparkling wines, Rioja is a fabulous region to discover. The Wine and … More group celebrated Rioja in all its glory at the recent Zoom tasting, with a record 22 people attending. Two guest speakers from within the Group, Angela and Luke, set the scene for the tasting, with a most interesting introduction. They did an amazing job. And then we were off! Whites, reds, spanning a price range for around £9 to £30, participants shared their wines with gusto. This was an upbeat, full-on tasting, with much enjoyment all around. Stay tuned for the November tasting everyone!
What is the Mediterranean Basin? Geographically speaking, it is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters, and hot, dry summers, the ideal climate for Mediterranean forests, woodlands – and vineyards. It covers portions of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
In terms of wines, think of the very southern tip of Italy – Calabria, Puglia and the Island of Sicily. Think of Greece and this country’s rich array of wines, including the wonderfully fresh Assyrtiko white wine from Santorini or from the mainland. Think of Turkey or Lebanon and its gorgeous Chateau Musar – where Bordeaux meets Arabian nights – the most indulgent, sensuous flavours which you will not easily forget. Think of the South East of Spain, Valencia and Malaga in particular, and the wonderful wines easily available from these areas.
Waving goodbye to summer, members of the Wine … and More Group shared, via Zoom, some gorgeous wines from South Italy, Spain and Lebanon, such as Terre di Faiano Nero D’Avola Appassimento 2019, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019, Hochar 2017, the second wine from Chateau Musar in Lebanon from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, made entirely from the Cinsault grape, a wonderful Retsina of Attiki Kourtaki and a Tsantali Cabinet Sauvignon Private Collection both from Greece, and a Monastrell Tragolargo 2019 from Alicante, Spain.
Some 12 castaways met virtually last week, each shipwrecked on their own desert island, but with a good supply of wine. What did they manage to salvage? Some salvaged Condrieu, the top white wine from Northern Rhone, some a great Malbec from Argentina, some a good Prosecco, to be chilled in the sea of course. And then, we also brought our fantasy wine, the one we would quite happily spend months on end sipping on the island. And there was also a Vino del Nonno, ‘grandfather’s wine’, the one made from one’s own small family vineyard, in your small cellar, just for the family, totally natural and genuine. To be drank young, as you need to make room for next year’s wine! Not surprisingly, it was Dom Perignon Champagne, Krug Champagne, Barolos and Chateau Latour 1961! What a fun tasting that was, and open to all members of the Wine… and More Group.
SHHH….. IT’S RIESLING!
Deliciously fresh and aromatic, Riesling is without question Germany’s top grape. It originated in the Rhine region of Germany, and the best are said to grow along the banks of the Mosel river on the beautiful steep, south facing hills. It has become a bit of a superstar of the white wine world, and not just in Germany. There is a lot of scope for versatility – it’s not ‘sweet’ as many people may think, although you will find hints of tropical fruit and nectarines. Basically, if you like Sauvignon Blanc and if you like Viognier, you will like Riesling. That’s why our tasting was called ‘Shhh…. It’s Riesling!!’ (meaning: don’t tell everyone because I am drinking a best kept secret!). And just look at the label in this picture, there is a Riesling called just that – from the Coop in Crouch End at the amazing price of £6. However, Riesling as a grape is planted in many parts of the world, and you will find good Riesling wines from Australia (Clare Valley and Tasmania), Italy (where it’s called Riesling Italico), Austria, France of course (Alsace) and even from Washington State and California, without forgetting Eastern Europe. On the night via Zoom we tasted a good variety of Rieslings, especially from Germany, Austria and Australia. Couple it with Asian food, sushi, or Parma ham & melon, and you have a match made in heaven – or better, on your plate!
We welcomed the Summer Solstice with a great selection of summer stunners.
With the emphasis on rosé wines, tipped to be an even bigger thing this summer than they were last year, we homed into ‘classic’ rosés; from Europe.
From a pink sparkling from Frexinet, to the brand new Kylie, the roseé from Provence by Kylie Minogue and selling at £9 in Tesco, we had an adventurous tasting with 18 people participating on Zoom.
Perfect with summer foods and great as aperitifs, roseé wines are still largely the unappreciated and unrecognised siblings of the white and red wine world. During the session, we broadened the perspective and dispelled some of the myths surrounding roseé wines during this tasting – such as: does the colour matter? Is it worth keeping rose’ for years? Should I buy French?
We explored Pink Primitivo from Puglia, we talked about the English Sparkling Roséfrom Lyme Bay in Devon, found in Aldi at £9 and worth every mouthful, and Pink Garnacha from Spain. A night to remember!
Wamkeleikile!!!! Wine … And More welcomes #SpectacularSouthAfrica
We said Wamkeleikile at the start of our Zoom wine tasting a few days ago, the Xhosa word meaning ‘welcome’ as we celebrated, in our own way, one of the yearly events, Spectacular South Africa when South African wines are in the spotlight. Were bars and restaurants open, many would have them on promotion. But we did it our way and had a great time with 16 people joining on Zoom, to present their bottles. From iconic Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, the classic grapes of South Africa, to wines made from international grapes and some skilful blends, we had a super tasting. Our member Luke Crawley prepared a very informative introduction, as he had been to South Africa, and Vivienne Smith, who had also visited several wineries, made us all jealous recounting her wonderfuk experiences. A most enjoyable and successful wine tasting!
The Group held their third tasting over Zoom exploring a new wine producing country, with a spotlight on Spanish wines. With around 14 members joining in the fun over two Zoom sessions, one after the other, a really good and interesting choice of wines was brought to the ‘party’. From Albarino Rias Baixas to a Monastrell from Yeca Valley in Alicante (which is of course the same grape as Mourvedre, just by another name) these wines rub shoulders with classic Rioja, including the Cepa Alegro 2012 and 2013, as well as an interesting Shiraz from Valencia. Even a map of the Spanish wine regions was provided on Zoom! What a rich, informative and fun experience we had, and we were done in time to go on the balcony and clap for the workers!
Yesterday evening was a lovely way to spend some time. Thank you so much for organising it. Even when we had to “change ends” at 7.00 pm it all went off without too much trouble.
Muchas gracias, Luisa. It was a fun evening and SO lovely to see so many of our friends and fellow wine lovers. Thanks for another very interesting evening Luisa and fellow wine connoisseurs
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for organising the wine tasting again on Thursday it’s really kind of you to do so.
You did very well to keep calm when everyone was talking over one another. I assure you my hand was raised when I wanted to speak! I look forward to the next one if there is one.
What a lovely early evening that was !! Thank you so much Luisa. Roll on the next one. Best wishes everyone.
The second Zoom wine tasting focused on Italian wines, and what an excellent variety we had. Everyone made an effort to source something interesting or special, from vintage Barolo to Broglia Gavi di Gavi, from Primitivo Appassimento to Pinot Grigio Blush. We learnt how the ‘blush’ of Pinot Grigio comes from the prolonged skin contact, not from a red grapet!. We learnt how he Appassimento method (the drying of a percentage of all grapes picked for making the wine, which are then added a a later stage to give the finished wine a richer, smoother, velvety finish). We also learnt that the Primitivo grape, originally from Puglia, is also known in California as Zinfandel. (Although the Californians would prefer to think that it’s an indigenous grape, but think of all the Italians who emigrated to America, the one thing they brought with them was vine stock!) With 19 people attending our second Zoom tasting, the group that ‘tastes together, stays together’. Till next time, glasses at the ready, Salute!
What can I say? We are simply epic. Trailblazers of the new Zoom way of meeting, we did not let the lockdown preventing us from meeting. But tasting wines over the internet? It was a challenge, but we raised to it. We set a theme for this first virtual tasting, Chardonnay, an easy-to-find, popular and accessible wine. Bottle open, glass in hand, members logged into Zoom and we all raised a glass of our own own Chardonnay, sharing tasting notes. And what a great selection. Chardonnay from North West Italy, from the classic Burgundy are of France, with some lovely Macon wines, Chardonnay from the new world. You did us proud, Wine…and More group. It was fun, it was uplifting and it got us together. Zoom is a new platform for many, and despite a few hitches for this first meeting, we all persevered! The second virtual tasting is already booked on Zoom. See you there, glass in hand!
The Group took a leap in the dark at the February tasting, when wines were tasted blind and participants had to identify the wines, based on the knowledge gained by regularly attending the monthly events. We called it ‘Chateaux Noir’. The principles of See, Swirl, Sniff and Sip were applied, there were some intense moments but also much amusement. And for good measure, we also had a quiz. And then the big reveal, to crown the overall winner, Luke Crawley. Roslyn Byfield also did very well by identifying the vast majority of the grapes. And if this was not enough, we also celebrated a Danielle’s birthday, which gave us cause to open an extra bottle of bubbly! That’s a wine tasting to remember!
It was wine (and flowers) all round for the Wine…and More Group first tasting of the year – and no, we did not do Dry January …
We kicked off in style with a guest speaker from Wines of Hungary UK, the lovely Zsouzsa Toronji who presented several wines made with that superlative grape which is Furmint. Perhaps still little known in the UK, but becoming more available by the day. Even Sainsbury’s stocks one! Worth giving it a go.
We presented Zsouzsa with a bouquet of flowers for the time she gave us. And then, we presented our own member Danielle, with another bouquet of flowers to thank her for making her home available for our Christmas Party in December. What a start to the new year! Good things are in store for the Wine…and More Group this year.
All the ingredients were in place for the Wine …and More Group Christmas event. Great hospitality, great food and of course, it goes without saying, great wines. What else? Macon Aze’, Cune Rioja, Bordeaux Superior, Moulin de Lugny were just some of the gems tasted on the night. With much banter, many stories, and many cheers to a year which saw the most interesting tastings, from visits to urban wineries and artisanal brewers, to exploring the world of Bordeaux and learning about volcanic wines, to restaurant visits.
No wine for the Wine … and More Group at the Bohem Tap Room! Instead, our first beer tasting – but not just any ordinary beer, but artisan Czech beer brewed by Czechs in Myddelton Road, Bowes Park. We were taken through the full range, from Victoria to Amos, Sparta, Smoked Sparta (excellent), Raven (a favourite) Slavia and Prototype. Look at those amazing colours.
It was great to have so many ladies tasting and appreciating the different flavours and we all learnt so much. Our server showed us how to float dark beer on top of a light beer, and he also pulled a special pint of Milko, a dense foam which is a speciality. Another beer anyone?
Our wine tasting compared the old and the new, or grapes around the world, to taste the difference between a classic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and a new one from Marlborough New Zealand; a classic Chardonnay from Burgundy and a new style of Chardonnay from California; a classic Syrah from the Rhone and the new Shiraz from Australia; and a classic Pinot Noir from Burgundy and the one from Sonoma Valley. A fascinating tour in eight wines, with so many positive comments. Cheers!
Blue of the Danube
The Wine…and More group arranged for members to attend a very special tasting in the stunning surroundings of Merchant Taylors Hall, one of the twelve great Livery Companies in the City, which hosted the inaugural event for Hungary Wines UK. Called Blue of the Danube, there were over 200 wines to taste from 40 different producers – the wines were a revelation for many.
Notoriously expensive, the wines of Bordeaux are a mystery to many, as the classifications can be difficult to understand, and few appreciate the differences between wines from the left bank and the right bank.
At the October monthly meeting of the Wine … More Group, we set out to demystify the whites, reds and dessert wines of Bordeaux, with some sterling examples all below £25.00, and with an average price of £15.00. Not an easy task, but we did it!
The great whites from Entre-Deux-Mers, the soft reds of St Emilion, the structured reds of the Graves, the luscious wines of Margaux, and a splendid Sauternes, were all there to taste and appreciate.
What an evening. That was the tasting that was! And so many good comments, including someone who rushed out the following morning and cleared the shelves of a particular wine …
… a special thank you for the amazing evening on Thursday, I learnt so much and while shopping today, I bought the Sauternes at Waitrose. – CH
Thank you Luisa for all your work collating notes for us so that we might understand and enjoy the complexity and difference between grapes and the resulting wine. Our group so enjoy what you do. Thank you Vivienne, we all love your recipes and how they compliment the chosen wines … EC
Most enjoyable last night! Great learning and great fun! Thank you. – DR
A big, huge thank you … for such a marvellous tasting session last night. Everyone must have really got into the spirit as we all know that closing time is 9.30 but last night it was steamrollered! I have just got home from Waitrose in Holloway. I left it till late just in case you went there and I would loathe to swipe such gorgeous reds from you! I bought, as gifts for wine enthusiast pals, their last 2 bottles of Chateau Moulin de Curat … – LH
Wine tasting at Chapel Down, London
When one can’t go to the winery in Kent, the winery comes to you in London! What a splendid evening the Wine .. and More Group enjoyed in the distilling and tasting room of Chapel Down on the Regent’s Canal. Laura and Annie took us through their best wines, including the prized sparkling Brut, the sparkling Rose’ Brut, (served at William and Kate’s wedding, although we are not allowed to officially say so …), Tenterden Estate Bacchus 2018 and the award winning Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2016 – fantastic quality. We also tasted the special Orange Bacchus 2017 and their Pinot Noir 2016. And look at that silver bowl, called the Camilla Parker Bowl, as it was made especially for her on her visit to the vineyard. One of best wine outings yet, everyone said!
All wine and no whine! The Wine…and More group went to La’ De Kitchen restaurant in Muswell Hill at the end of August, at least all those who were not away from London! We celebrated the height of summer with a delicious Mediterranean meal and some great Turkish wines, new to many in the group, but enjoyed by one and all!
It was urban escape this month, with a visit to Renegade Wines, the urban winery in Bethnal Green which is making news, literally, with great write ups about its wines in Metro and in The Independent (you heard it here first, because we are in the know!). It was a sunny, warm evening and we enjoyed the hospitality of Warwick Smith, the founder and brainchild of Renegade, with its leading edge wine making techniques which produce some stunning results. We tasted a range of sparkling, whites and reds made from some of the best grapes from around the world, most coming from small, organic vineyards. We loved the Sauvignon Blanc, the English Sparkling, and the Cabernet from the barrel – it was not even bottled, and we wanted more! A most unusual evening, enjoyed by all.
Our Wine … and More group seems to get better every time we meet. This month we tasted premium wines, including the best Macon Lugny, superb Chorey Les Beune Burgundy and a fabulous Chateauneuf Du Pape, from famed producers such as Joseph Drouhin and Louis Latour, with prices usually out of reach, but affordable when shared with everyone. The Gruner Veltliner from Austria was much loved, whilst the Pegasus Riesling from New Zealand took many by surprise. And that little gem, Tanit, from the Alexandria Muscat grape from Sicily to round off the evening … This is what a member said:
It was an evening with a special buzz – don’t you think? Wonderful wines Luisa, and you brought each one alive. Life would be exciting if we could harness your enthusiasm. And Vivienne, as you always do, make us at home and relaxed, as well as putting out delicious things to eat. I can only imagine the shopping and cooking behind the scenes! There was something tonight, as we make friends, mutual interests and all thanks to you priceless duo
Thanks to our gracious hostess, Vivienne, and Luisa (in absentia) for a fun BYO wine tasting. We all brought a bottle we thought would interest the group and took turns in saying a bit about our chosen wines, which included a Picpoul de Pinet (now becoming more popular), a Romanian pinot grigio, two very pale and interesting roses, a 2017 Crozes Hermitage (Northern Rhone), a New Zealand pinot noir and a rioja which was unusual for using the grenache rather than the usual tempranillo grape. Lively conversations continued over a delicious supper – altogether a lovely evening.
An explosive tasting! Wines from volcanic soils are rich in minerals and have a distinct sapidity like the splendid Atlantis Assyrtiko from Santorini and the Nerello Mascalese from Etna. And that amazing Grecula from Mount Vesuvius which everyone enjoyed. Not to mention the wines from Argentina and Chile, the latter with over 2,900 volcanos – did you know?? Empty bottles, full glasses, and a great supper at Vivienne’s home.
Thank you Luisa for a splendid evening last night, everyone learnt a lot – VS
Yet again, last evening was a wonderful lesson in wine appreciation … – DR
Luisa, thank you for a marvellous evening last night. Everyone had such a good time – as seen by the late hour of departure – EH
The Wine … and More Group finds ways of beating the winter blues with an outing at restaurant and wine shop Connubio in Muswell Hill. Here is Fabio the owner with convenors Luisa and Vivienne welcoming a very large group, to include both the main and reserve groups, to the tasting. We tasted three indigenous grape varieties from Italy paired with specially selected dishes. A great event to bring event to bring everyone together and enjoy the conviviality of the group.
Our fabulous, and I mean Absolutely Fabulous, first tasting of the year. Detox or Retox? We did them both of course! We tasted a range of extra virgin olive oils and members of the group enjoyed learning how to taste olive oil, and discovering nuances of tomato, thistle, artichoke, grass in the oils. We loved detoxing. But we soon were into retoxing with rare sherries and rare ports, and warming Spanish and Portuguese wines before a light supper of Spanish inspired dishes. That’s the way to start January for Wine … and More.
The Wine…and More Group rang in the festivities with an all-sparkling event, discovering life beyond Prosecco, with a tasting of Champagnes, Cremants, even with a highly rated sparkling from Tasmania, and our own English sparkling wines. All washed down with plenty of festive food! Roll on the new year. Shall we detox or retox???
The Wine…and More group celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day with a tasting of 7 different wines from the region, followed by a French-inspired supper. Here are some of the wines that put us in a great mood for the night …
“I knew nothing at all about wine and this Wine and More session was really welcoming to all levels. It was cram packed full of interesting facts on the 8 wines from Italy tasted (drunk!), both white and red. It helped in understanding my own preferences and also why others prefer different wines. We learnt about why Italian wines are named the way they are, and about the 4 denominations. I am going to Italy in two weeks’ time and now I will be able to choose wines with some proper understanding.” – EH.
“I very much enjoyed the event last night, it was informative and pleasurable, and thanks to our host’s warmth and hospitality, and your lively presentation, felt like an evening shared with friends.” – JH.
“Thank you for a marvellous instructive and convivial evening. You brought the mysteries of wine to life and even local shops that supply! Vivienne’s supper was delicious. Naturally, I would love to come to the November gathering, so please count me in! Sincere thanks.”- EC.