Upcoming Wine Tasting Events 2021
We are pleased to announce that events are starting again as we emerge from lockdown. The first of these is…
Tasting and BBQ at a’Beckett’s vineyard on 25th August
The West of England Wine & Spirit Association have organised a visit to a’Becketts Vineyard, with a tasting and BBQ of Quality Sausages/Burgers in Baps with salad and cheese and biscuits to follow. The event starts at 6.30 and will cost £15 per person.
We can only accommodate a maximum of 20 people so don’t delay if you can make it. The vineyard is at High Street, Littleton Panell, Devizes SN10 4EN.
To book your place, pay by direct transfer to sort code 56-00-05 account number 53890027 ref. your name and August. Please also inform the treasurer firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively you can pay by cheque. These should be made payable to the West of England Wine & Spirit Association. sent to Geoff Collis at 162 Devizes Road, Hilperton, Trowbridge, BA14 7QS
We regularly run wine trips to both European and long haul destinations.Our most recent trip was to South America in November 2019. The details of this and other past trips are shown on the Trips page. We are also in the early stages of planning a trip to the Loire in June 2020.
3rd February 2020 – Annual Lunch
The Annual Luncheon of the Association was held at the Grand Hotel in Bristol and was very well attended. 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 also the traditional Port vintage guessing competition, with proceeds going to the Benevolent fund.
20th November 2019 Burgundy evening in Bath
This was held at the Olive Tree Restaurant, The Queensberry Hotel, 4-7 Russell Street, Bath BA1 2QF.
Christopher Fielden led an excellent blind tasting of nine Côte d’Or red Burgundies, including one grand cru and four premier cru wines, with vintages ranging back to 2008.
This was followed by a special four course dinner prepared by Michelin starred chef Chris Cleghorn, accompanied by both red and a white Burgundy.
The wines in the tasting came from Christopher’s own collection, wines selected from the cellar of Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW and what Christopher found on a trip to Burgundy in October.
3rd September 2019 Tour and tasting at Woodchester Valley vineyard
We had a very successful evening at Woodchester with 12 people attending.
We were greeted by the owner and winemaker who spent the evening with us. We started off with the sparkling wine tasting and a talk about English wines and what has been happening at Woodchester –when they started and the planting of what is now a 50 acre vineyard.
We were taken out to the vines seeing a new planting which had been done by satellite so the rows were perfect.
We saw some grapes ready to be harvested and were told about soils grapes etc-also told about problems frost – animals eating grapes – badgers very bad at harvest time eating up to 5kg of grapes a day .
We were shown the press and where the grapes came into taken into the winery with all the tanks and shown the “champagne method “ also a small machine of how the dosage was done and resealed again.
More wines tasted in the winery back to the tasting room/shop to taste rose and reds
We ended the evening with the Pinot Noir 2018 which was very high standard and delicious pre-release, followed by a fish and chip supper from the local upmarket fish and chip shop Simpsons. A thoroughly comprehensive visit which all the members enjoyed.
This event has also been documented by Diana Lyalle on her excellent wine blog WineTimeEvents.
21st May 2019 Allan Scott New Zealand Supper
The tasting was held at The Pump House, Merchants Rd, Bristol BS8 4PZ. Allan Scott, from the well known Marlborough family winemakers, conducted a wine tasting with supper. Allan was joined by his son Josh, who is taking over the business.
Alan Scott Wines are in the Wairau Valley of Marlborough, opposite Cloudy Bay on Jackson Road. They specialise in Aromatics – along with the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc. They also now have 2 sparkling wines in their Portfolio and have vineyards in Otago, where they produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
March 2019 – Spanish wine trip
On Sunday 10th March a party of 17 people from the West of England Wine and Spirit Association left Bristol Airport heading for Madrid, minus unfortunately Christopher Fielding who had organised the trip but was unfortunately taken ill. We all wished him well. Geoff Collins was asked to lead the party.
The flight was delayed which made us late for our eventual 2 hour journey by coach to the four star boutique Hotel AF Pesquera at Penafiel where we were staying for the 4 nights.
Monday March 11th we took a gentle stroll to our first visit Bodegas Protos, part of the Pesquera group, the founder and owner Alejandro Fernandez empire stretched over many area’s of Spain, this Bodega is the oldest winery in the region, established in 1927. This is a co-operative venture with access to 2000 hectares of vineyards. Within the new cellars are some 16,000 barrels of which 60% were french and 40% American containing between 5 & 7 thousand hectolitres. After a very extensive walk through part of their 2 kilometres underground cellars we were taken to the tasting where we tasted the majority of their wines. An excellent visit to start our trip.
Our next visit involved lunch at Condado de Haza part of the Alejandro Fernandez empire with wines from their different wineries, part of the meal turned out to be the first taste of chick peas. An excellent lunch with very pleasant staff.
Back on the coach to Bodega Ortega Fournier, part of a multinational group based in Burgos who also own wineries in Argentina and Chile. This was quite a small unique 25 hectare vineyard and winery headed up by Natalia Ortega, the vineyard had recently been pruned and looked immaculate, Natalia explained how they brought on new vines from the old stock, some as old as 76 years. The vertical tasting was extremely interesting of years 2012-2011-2010-2007 and was laid out in the vineyard and it was nice that Natalia involved everyone with open discussion, lovely setting.
Tuesday March 12th 2019 took us on a drive to the Rueda area. Here we visited the Rueda winery of Marquis de Caceres at Serrada which was established in 2014 with 126 acres of whites, Viura, Verdejo and Sauvignon blanc, from picking grapes to crushing is only 20 minutes, using the concrete egg shape for initial fermentation. The tasting covered their wines produced here but rather difficult to understand the Lady instructor.
Our next visit was to Val de Vid also in Serrada, here we tasted 12 wines from three producers which are all part of a selling group called Araex, of which this Company has 1/17th worth of shares in Araex. Wines planted were of Verdejo and Viura and were mainly 35 year old vines. We were fortunate that Stanley Moss the export area manager was present, (1/2 yorkshireman and 1/2 spanish) because he sorted out before we had the tasting that our next visit wasn’t expecting us and luckily Stanley had arranged for lunch to be given by themselves which consisted of various local meats and cheeses, which complimented well the White wines we were presented with.
The evening was back at the Hotel where a “pairing evening” had been organised. First we visited the Hotels cellar where numerous wines from the Ribero del Duero and Alejandro Fernandez Empire of wines were very well displayed. The meal was beautifully selected with their wines to accompaniment the food varied from white Crianzas to red crianzas Grand Reservas 2006 and a 2012 Pesquera Reserva. The Main course was Duck Ravioli.
Wednesday March 13th 2019
Our first visit was to Bodegas Pesquera, described by Robert Parker as the Petrus of Spain and rivalled the long established wines of Vega Sicilia. Our guide whilst young spoke perfect English and had a great knowledge of what he was saying. We saw the 1922 press that Alexandro Fernandez created which to say was quite effective to say the least. They started selling wine in 1975 with two newly built wineries in 1999, beautiful reds from Tempranillo which are made in a similar way to Port by pumping over the wine to push the Cap back down through the wine. 35 months in wood barrels which they only use for 6 years and 24 months in bottle. The cheese we tasted as well as Pesquera Reserva was La Granja Anejo . Unforgetable visit.
Then onto Ramon Bilbao, part of the Zamora Wines and Spirit Group. What a place, established in 2015 with planting of Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo. There were some old 20 y.o vines which the rest were added to, night harvesting due to heat, nesting boxes to encourage buzzards to nest and keep down the rabbit population. Hungarian and French oak barrels. Sara came down to join Anna from Rioja and took us through the lovely spread of various tapas and of course their wines. Again a lovely visit. We then went onto
Cruz de Alba where Sara was already their waiting to greet us again, very tiny winery which was their pride and joy with just one person running this place. Unusually they ferment in open topped barrels before transferring into their storage vessels. 65 year old vines produce 100,000 bottles using 850 barrels from 18 plots of different soil roughly 40 hectares. So proud !! Back to Hotel for tapas of ones choice plus wine.
Last day March 14th 2019.
Left Hotel 7:30 a.m. all packed for later journey home or stay for extended holiday. We were taken to the Toro region close to Portugal for our first visit to Bodegas Farina in Toro. This vineyard was founded in 1942 by Lawrence Colson and they are at present setting up a museum of all the old equipment that had been used to produce wines over the centuries. Also many pictures and hand tools. Each year they get people to summit their paintings which are put on display and one is chosen for one of their wines to use as a label for the year. They have 2 women and 2 men along with his son as winemakers, from 62 wineries they produce 4 million bottles, their biggest export is Mexico from Tempranilla and Garnacha and Tinto de Toro, no phyloxera as their vineyards are on sandy soils. This place is gearing up to go far.
This was to be the highlight of the trip before departing for Madrid. Wasn’t sure when we arrived whether the place was derelict as there was nobody about, walked around and found a room and people cooking so this was a help and I was pointed out where to go, when I arrived back at the coach a young man was wandering about so I introduced myself and he wandered off and showed us a vast vineyard and then we wandered down to what he described at the largest underground cellar in Spain, a few bottles behind some cages and then back out again we went into a room and sat down at a lunch table. Very strange visit considering this to be the home of Alejandro Fernandez with an estate of 800 acres made mainly from Tempranilla and lunch was to be made up of produce from the Estate. Chick peas in abundance, we had to ask what the food was and also what the wine was as it was decanted into carafes. Sorry not the best way to finish our trip, now for the 3 hour trip back to Madrid, where we all said our goodbyes before catching the plane back to Bristol.
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.