Spring 2019 (provisional) – California wine tasting
4th February 2019 – Annual Lunch
The Annual Luncheon of the Association was held at the Grand Hotel in Bristol. It was preceded by the Annual General Meeting at the same venue.
The AGM was followed by a Champagne reception (with the generous support of Pol Roger), with lunch after that. There was a Port vintage guessing competition, with proceeds going to the Benevolent fund.
September & October 2018 – Romanian and Moldovan wine trips
The visit to Romania and Moldova took place between 25 Sept and 7 Oct 2018. Seven travelled to Romania for the first week, then two returned home, and three more joined the party for the second week in Moldova.
The visit started in Cluj, in northern Transylvania, and ended in a somewhat roundabout way in Bucharest five days later. In between we visited 12 wineries starting with La Salina and Domeniile Boeiru on the first day, then Telna and Recas on the second day. At Recas we were privileged to have lunch and several hours with one of the owners, Philip Cox, who originates from Somerset, and tasted 15 of their wines.
We moved on the third day, visiting Corcova, where we met one of the owners and the marketing director, then on to Prince Stirbey. There we were met by the owner, Ileana, and their winemaker Oliver Bauer. We were treated to an extended tasting of their wines, together with some very frank and informative insights into their winemaking philosophy. We then drove a short distance to Avincis, where we had a tutored tasting and supper, staying in their very modern onsite hotel.
On the fourth day we visited S.E.R.V.E, where the son of the winemaker, Juliu Rotorescu was ready to greet us in the absence of his father who is currently unwell. This was the second time that we had experienced wine made by a native Romanian winemaker, and the first who was making both native and international varietals.
Then on to Halewoods at Urlateanu to meet their wine maker Lorena Deaconu, who spent about an hour and a half with us, talking us through a tasting of 18 of their wines. She too is Romanian but has worked in the Southern Hemisphere. As at SERVE, her use of oak was restrained, but she dealt mainly with international varietals. Halewoods have a sparkling wine making facility an hour further north, at Azuga, where we sampled three of their wines and stayed for supper and the night in their onsite guest house.
The final day was spent driving towards Bucharest, stopping at Peles Castle (the home of the Romanian Royal family) and then for lunch at 1000 de Chipuri winery. Here the owner and winemaker are the same, and we were treated to a seemingly unending stream of wines, in this case however, high alcohol and pronounced use of wood prevailed, on indigenous varieties. In essence more of a garagiste, but the wines command high prices. The night was spent in Bucharest.
Two of the party returned home then, and the rest went by train to Iasi in north east Romania, where were joined the next day by three more members of the association. This enabled the original five to rest and explore the town, on the same day that the President made a visit.
The newly constituted group then visited the large and splendid Cotnari winery, famous for its sweet wines, made from a local varietal. After lunch we drove across the border to Chisnau the capital of Moldova, which we used as a base. Over the course of the next three days we visited Chateau Vartely, Cricova, Poiana, Milesti Mici, Castel Mimi (guess who was taking selfies?) and Et Cetera, culminating in the opening day of the Moldovan National Wine Fair.
Two of these are still state owned, and all these have invested heavily in making excellent visitor facilities and experiences.
In Romania, we saw how many wineries bring in overseas trained/born winemakers, and whilst making both international and indigenous varieties into wine, tend to favour local grapes, and the overseas influence is very evident. In Moldova whilst both are grown, the emphasis is more on international varietals and volume, though still producing wines of great character, more in the taste of the western palate.
We also managed a brief detour through Transdniester, a small, pro Russian self proclaimed republic, en route to the last winery visit, but that’s another story.
The final day at the wine fair saw us tasting wines from many smaller wineries as well as the large ones we had visited. This is a really joyous occasion, with the attendees joining in ring dancing periodically; classical performances take place at intervals too, and for rock lovers there was a pop concert on stage in the evening.
All in all, a very successful trip in my view, a real eye opener into what is happening in these two countries, with clues as to the potential for development to even greater heights.
12 September 2018 – Spanish wine tasting
An exciting wine tasting and dinner was held at the Olive Tree Reastaurant in Bath.
Srta. Trinidad Villegas, the export director of Bodegas LAN gave a tasting of wines from their properties in Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Rías Baixas, including 90+ Parker rated Riojas from their own vineyards.
The tasting was followed by a three course dinner cooked by chef Chris Cleghorn, who has worked under, amongst others, Heston Blumenthal. The Olive Tree has long been one of Bath’s top restaurants and has 3 AA rosettes.
11th June 2018 – Turkish wine tasting
WEWSA members enjoyed a Tasting of Turkish wines organised by the Bristol Tasting Circle on Monday 11 June at the Clifton Club, The Mall, Bristol BS8 4DS.
The wines were presented by Tim Johnson and Graeme Ewins, drawing on background information provided by Tugba Altinoz, the Turkish wine educator, consultant and writer who was unfortunately unable to join us and present the wines in person.
23/04/2018 – Romanian & Moldovan wine tasting
There was an excellent tasting of Romanian & Moldovan wines at The Pump House, Bristol, on 23rd April. This was both a sampler for the upcoming WEWSA trips to those two countries and a comprehensive introduction to their wines. After an overview of the wines and wineries by Tim Johnson we were able to sample 25 wines from a number of different producers. This was followed by a 3-course supper, wine and coffee.
09/03/2018 – Juan Carrau wine dinner
There was a good turnout at the George in Bradford-on-Avon on March 9th, as 25 members attended for a dinner featuring the wines of Vinos Finos Juan Carrau from Uruguay. Owner Javier Carrau was on hand to describe the wines and talk about the Uruguyan wine industry. The Chardonnay 2016 was served with the canapés before we settled down to a 3-course meal accompanied by the Petit Manseng 2016, the Tannat de Reserva 2015 and the Tannat Amat 2011.
Thanks to Christopher Fielden for organising, to Javier for tutoring, to the George for the excellent venue and dinner and to everyone who attended.
05/02/2018 – AGM and Annual Luncheon
The Chairman of the West of England Wine & Spirit Association, Mimi Avery, hosted the sold out Annual Luncheon of the Association at the Harbour Hotel in Bristol, preceded by a sparkling wine and champagne reception. Prior to the lunch the Annual General Meeting was held at the same venue.
13/11/2017 – Bristol Tasting Circle Chilean Wine Tasting
This brilliant event was organised by the Bristol Tasting Circle and the wines were presented by Tim Johnson. We are indebted to Wines of Chile for sponsorship to assist with this event, and to Tim for sourcing the wines and presenting the tasting. The wine tasting included a range of international varietals, made in ever diverse parts of Chile and drawing on old world expertise, eg one is made by Doms Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). They are trying to move away from the heavy use of oak, and we hope that the examples we show will demonstrate that.
16/10/2017 – Malbec tasting from around the world followed by meal in Corsham
An around the world evening wine tasting event hosted at the Methuen Arms in Corsham, Wiltshire. Wines were served blind and followed by a two course meal. Thanks to the Methuen Arms for their hospitality.
16/10/2017 – Visit and Tour of Octavian
Octavian stores wines from 10,000 private collectors, investors and wine merchants from 39 countries some 100 feet below the Wiltshire hills. 8 of us were shown around this magnificent location.
31st May 2018 – England v France sparkling wine tasting during English Wine Week
To celebrate English Wine Week we held a sparkling wine tasting on 31st May at Walcot House, 90b Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BG.
Didier Pierson, a man with a foot in both camps, tutored a comparative tasting of English sparkling wines and Champagnes.
02-05/10/2017 – WoEWSA trip to Madeira (and plans for a repeat visit)
A small group of WoEWSA members travelled to Madeira at the start of October to sample the local wines and scenery. Our arrival was delayed because high winds led to a couple of aborted landings – and we spent an unscheduled but very pleasant evening in Lanzarote. The high point of this stopover was a grilled seafood platter, washed down with the local Malvasia wines – including a 2017 vintage that can only have been bottled days previously.
After a lovely breakfast (including Cava!) we eventually arrived in Madeira and travelled straight to our first tasting at Barbeito. We started with a tour of the winery. It was particularly interesting on this tour to see the Estufagem tanks that are used to heat the wine after fermentation. We then settled down to a stellar tasting, starting with barrel samples of each of the main grape varieties. This was a great way of helping us recognise the different styles. Following this we worked our way through a leisurely tasting of their full range, including some lovely aged wines.
Just some of the wines sampled at Barbeito
We had a chance to travel round the island with our local chauffeur, who as well as being a mine of information was also a much-travelled marathon runner. The scenery was spectacular, although some of the steep and windy bends needed a bit of a head for heights.
That evening was spent at Blandy’s Wine Lodge. We toured the museum and then enjoyed a food and wine matching dinner, with a wine made with a different grape variety served with each course.
The next day we had time for a stroll around the town before heading off to the airport and home. This short but sweet introduction to the island has given us the appetite for a longer visit in the future – so plans are already underway for a longer and more comprehensive WoEWSA tour – watch this space for more details.