Wine Circle



BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Lord Byron, The Deformed Transformed

Wednesday, 20th October is on the horizon and I'm pleased to say that the Wine Circle has plans!The Manor Hall is capacious; our members are looking forward to returning safely to our first meeting, hosted by our able Chairman, Tony Summers.

Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, is, thankfully, a pandemic-survivor. Charlie Cotton, its knowledgeable founder, has put us in his diary for Wednesday, 17th November.

The 'bewitching hour' starts at 8.00 p.m. for both events, but it will continue until we've all tasted . . . thought about them . . . and decided we'd like to try some more in roughly four weeks' time!

We hope you will join us. It's a great way of drinking, thinking, chatting and laughing!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

I like best the wine drunk at the cost of others.

Diogenes the Cynic

Drinking wine at the cost of others has been possible for a while, as restrictions have been gradually reducing; Monday July 19th is another date in the pandemic calendar for England. Politicians made statements, prior to, about donning a mask being a personal choice, but the professors seem to think we should all wear these, so it's probably wise to wait and see.

Berrynarbor's Wine Circle will be delighted to restart in October, the 20th to be precise, all being well. We'll have to wait and see as to our social-distancing, but I'm sure many will prefer to continue the 2-metre approach; however, the Manor Hall has plenty of space for us to conform to this and, therefore, welcome anybody and everybody at 8.00 p.m.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason. Latin proverb

Sadly, nothing to report other than we keep tasting wines at home; however, we are hoping that we'll be able to socialise and test-taste at The Manor Hall in October! It seems a long way off, but we've come through 14 months of dealing with lockdowns, restrictions, hearing facts and figures from the SAGE professors, and the politicians! We're still here to hear it all, thankfully!

Many businesses have closed due to this dreadful disease. Our national landscape has changed, but Berrynarbor still has its V.I.P's: i.e. very important places. Thankfully, and alphabetically, the Church, the Globe, the Manor Hall, the School and the Shop, have all survived! Once all restrictions are lifted, life will assume a new normal, but I'm sure, having survived all the above, we shall be hesitant about what we do when we socialise with a friend, friends or family.

As the vaccination programme is a success, it could be that the entire village, those eligible to consume alcohol, will have had their shot in the arm by October. We shall have a ring of confidence around us before we enter that Hall! Present or future thirst will be quenched; do join us on Wednesday 20th October at 8,00 p.m. if you wish to have an experience of the 'excellence of the wine'!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Age is just a number. It's totally irrelevant unless, of course,

you happen to be a bottle of wine.

Joan Collins

Like many activities up and down the country, Berrynarbor's Wine Circle is hoping to restart soon; however, our season, usually, begins in October. We shall keep to the usual and restart, with EVERYTHING crossed, on Wednesday, October 20th at

8.00 p.m. The Manor Hall will provide a warm welcome to everybody, no matter what their 'age'! It will be good to taste wine, chat and laugh with others again.

Until then, we play our part and stay at home, grabbing exercise when and where we can and socialise with our husbands, partners or in bubbles with whomever! Bubbles may abound when we are all free to ignore Zoom and go our very merry way!

I asked you a few questions in the first Newsletter of this year and here are parts of the questions, to remind you, then the answers.

         Sherry wine is left in barrels to oxidise, with a thick white layer of yeast . . . This is True. The yeast is called flor and is vital to sherry production.

         Which three grape varieties are used for Champagne? Most widely used are: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

         Red wines are better drunk with cheese rather than whites? Many, including me, enjoy a glass of red when eating cheese; however, cheese blocks tannin receptors on the tongue, making red wines taste sweet and masking flavours. White wines can often be a better match.

         As well as Chardonnay, what other white grapes are grown in Burgundy? The answer is Aligot.

         Glayva is made with Scotch whisky, herbs . . . and which type of fruit? Seville oranges, yes, those associated with marmalade making, are used for this liqueur.

 

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

"I have lived temperately... I double the doctor's recommendation of a glass and half of wine each day and even treble it with a friend."

Thomas Jefferson

I suspect that the latter part of the above, i.e., 'and even treble it with a friend' may well have been appropriate during lockdown one and two, and may be again, during three, for a few of us! Who's counting, I say! If it was alright for Thomas Jefferson, then it's okay! There is no 'naughty list' this year.

Who would have thought that activities up and down the country that were cancelled last March, will still be cancelled this March, as I'm sure they will be, and rightly so. If those of us expecting to be given the jab, receive it during the spring or summer, then fingers crossed that our very popular Wine Circle will resume in September, which would be Wednesday 15th at

8.00 p.m.

I'm sure Geoff and I were not the only ones to play a board game or two during the festive season. We chose, deliberately, to use one that had remained unopened, from a few Christmases ago. Some of the questions reminded us of our Wine Circle Wednesdays!

Here are a few to tease you - the answers will be in the next Newsletter!

Q: True or false: Sherry wine is left in barrels to oxidise, with a thick white layer of yeast being encouraged to form on top of the wine?

Q: Which three grape varieties are most widely used when making Champagne?

Q: True or false: red wines are better drunk with cheese than white wines?

Q: As well as Chardonnay, what other white grape variety is grown in Burgundy: Aligote, Esperanto or Alicante?

Q: Glayva is made with Scotch whisky, herbs, spices and honey plus which particular type of fruit?

 

2021: Stay positive, Test negative

 

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Ordinarily, we should have had meetings this year from January through to May and then October onwards.  Twenty-twenty has not been the year most of us were expecting! 

During this unprecedented year, sadly, some of our members have been seriously ill, but others have passed away.  Mary and Gordon Hughes used to live in the village, but moved to Combe Martin a few years ago; however, Mary still came to the Wine Circle on a regular basis.  Carol Lucas, with Graham, was also a frequent visitor to our meetings.  These ladies were both regular 'tasters' at our gatherings and will be missed. I am sure I can say, on behalf of all our members, that we wish their families well, and that they gain the support they need from their families and friends to cope with operation recovery or bereavement during difficult times.   

Let's raise a glass to a vaccine and to 2021 being a much better year! 

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Wine, taken in moderation, makes life, for a moment, better, and when the moment passes

life does not for that reason become worse.

Bernard Levin

Lockdown seems a long time ago, but Covid-19 has changed most things in life and continues to do so. Unsurprisingly, it changed some people's drinking habits. Being confined, economic hardship and job uncertainties meant that some needed 'Alcoholic Attention'. Many of us are fortunate in this village and we stuck to our couple per evening; however, we have friends who were shielding and admitted their garage was regularly visited by a Naked Wines' fairy, but they kept finding empty cases of wine! They began to wonder if the Angels were having more than their fair share!

As we couldn't eat out, visit friends or family, pub takeaways and home-cooked food became the daily norm. Wine seemed to be more special, or important somehow, with yet another evening meal or Sunday lunch at home. Wine may be just grape juice, but some of it can be memorable!

Returning to village activities may be difficult for some or keenly awaited by others. October 21st sees the first of our new 2020-21 season. We are fortunate to have our meetings in the Manor Hall; it has plenty of space: social distancing and sampling are perfectly possible. Tables will be sanitised; usual groups will be retained; and using our own glasses will provide another Covid-safe aspect.

Thanks to lockdown, we have a full programme for this season, as professional speakers were all postponed in March. October was the only month with a vacancy, but because of the uncertainty of life itself, we felt that this could be useful, and, we knew we could fill this by committee members if October proved to be a positive go-ahead. We hope to start, as mentioned, on the 21st, with Wines We Have Enjoyed During Lockdown. There must be some!

New members will be given a warm welcome. We may be observing Covid rules, but conviviality can still abound.

Judith Adam Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

 

Footnote: Sadly, the timetable expected to start in October and submitted to the Newsletter before the September '6-only ruling', will no longer go ahead.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

As pubs, clubs and restaurants have re-opened, life is beginning to look more familiar. It was good to be able to support The Globe, recently, and as it was a sunny evening, we grabbed the opportunity to eat and drink outside 'over the road', once again. We didn't recognise anybody else, perhaps because it was a Monday evening, which proves that the camp sites and other hospitality venues, locally, are also open. All local facilities need the trade, after enforced closures.

I'm sure everybody is hoping that we do not become a regional lockdown and village events will start to happen again. That said, I know Wine Circle members have not joined the Temperance Society since our last meeting, which was February!

I also know that groups of friends have met up outside, socially-distancing, of course, but enjoying a chatty atmosphere over a glass or two . . . or three! The Wine Circle hopes to use the Manor Hall once again, on Wednesday, October 21st, 8.00 p.m. We look forward to seeing new and 'old' faces, for the 2020-21 season.

Judith Adam

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Whine no more; we're alive to tell a tale!

Who would have thought, on January 1st 2020, that sharing a bottle, if you're wearing gloves, with people other than your household members, had to be at 2 metres, currently? Lock down, PPE and social distancing are now part of our weird and very quiet present. I'm sure we all hope that a more familiar life will resume during the summer, but when we are through all of this, will this year's normality look like 2019's? The Wine Circle hopes to resume chatting, sharing and tasting from Wednesday, 21st October. Drinking through a mask will prove interesting!


 

Meanwhile, gardening, Glorious Devon and household maintenance occupy our time! Talking of gardens, Geoff and I have tackled jobs that we've been meaning to do for a while. I'm sure we're not alone! One of them is painting on a large slate slab in the garden. No, I'm not going gaga . . . yet! Years ago, I noticed one of the large slates, in our raspberry bed, had some obvious letters on it. When I threw some water over it, I could see a date. Kneeling beside it, I saw a picture, scratched into this etched slate, too.

Most people, I should have thought, would see 1916 and think of the four dreadful years that formed WWI. I know I did. Was this when a male household member left Berrynarbor to serve for the rest of this war? Knowing popular first names and surnames for this area and era, I wondered if the 'EL' stood for maybe an Edwin Lethaby, Edward Lancey, Elijah Ley, Eric . . . Ernest . . ? I decided I had to investigate.

As I've been doing family research for a few years, I used my online access and trawled through the 1911 Census records for Berrynarbor possibles. After a fairly easy search, I found an Ernest Thomas Leworthy. He was only 7 when this Census was taken. His parents, Thomas and Catherine wouldn't have allowed Ernest, at 12, to try and join up on 'Jul 19th 1916', so was this just a schoolboy, at home, perhaps for the summer holidays, who scratched his initials, the date, a ship and anchor on to a slate slab, while playing in this garden? Had I found the right EL?

His sister, Florence, was 5; both Leworthy children were at the village school. Their 'Street' was 'The Village'. Our address here is The Village. Had the slate slab been in situ for at least a century, as a permanent part of what is now our garden? Thomas, their father, was described as '40' and a 'Gardens Labourer on Estate'.

Estate reminded me that the Penn Curzon's of Watermouth Castle owned the village; the family would have been tenants and their workers did come from this village, so deeds for village properties, including 43 The Village, or The Manor Stores, as it was, would not exist prior to the sale of the Watermouth Estate, which occurred on August 17th, 1920.

As he is a possible, I looked at what else I could discover about this little boy. Accessible records, to me, showed that he became a Butler and Valet. With his French born wife, Anna, he had worked in Mayfair, London, before they travelled aboard the Berengaria as Alien Passengers for the United States, arriving in New York, on the 22nd August 1930. He had been on a ship!

World War II records gave his Residence place as East St, Colonia, Middlesex, New Jersey. He had signed up for service on the 15th February 1942, at the age of 37 and had been employed by the Rice Baking Company of Linden, New Jersey. Susanna Leworthy was still his Next of Kin. Their offspring, and maybe grandchildren, could still be alive to tell this tale and more . . .

Judith Adam - Promotional Co ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Mingling Matters . . .

As I've said before, the Wine Circle is a great village organisation to meet others who are not your neighbours. It was with concern, therefore, that we learnt that some new members felt that they weren't mingling. It's easy to get stuck in a rut and to sit with people you know; however, we've put paid to that and February's meeting was Call my Wine Bluff and a perfect subject to split friends and/or neighbours and to sit at tables of six instead of rows of 12. It worked so well we shall be doing it again!

For those of you that don't know, our Bluff night means that a panel of three each spout a possible description of six wines. Obviously, there is only one correct one for each.

We sampled a French Haut-Poitou Sauvignon Blanc, a Lyrarakis Assyrtiko from Crete and a Spanish Caixas Albarino. Our first two reds were South African: a Barista Pinotage and a Rustenburg Stellanbosch Grenache. A Spanish Matsu El Picaro ended the evening. The favourites were the Frenchman, which was fresh, crisp and fruity, typical of a Sauv Blanc and the Barista. Barista is Italian for bartender; however, today it's synonymous with coffee houses. This Barista wine smelled of coffee and tasted of the same, but it was a great red.

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyard, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. Benjamin Franklin

I like to select appropriate quotations from my little book! We've had plenty of rain over the vineyards and everywhere else over the last six months and let's hope that this year's crops will enable us to be happy and mingle once again!

Life has been curtailed as we know it. Unsurprisingly, it was agreed that the Wine Circle would not hold March's meeting due to this Coronavirus outbreak. If the situation continues as it is, I suspect that April's and May's meetings, on the 15th and the 20th, will follow suit. We will keep you posted, as they say.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYBNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Bray Valley Wines is just a few miles from here, on the Pathfields Business Park at South Molton, but its

founder-owner knows his stuff; it's worth a visit. Charlie Cotton began sipping wine at 18, as part of his training, in Burgundy. He's explored vineyards on a mobylette, similar to the one below and worked on a bottling line. What a great way to see vines then wines!


 

This French motorized bicycle enabled him to discover and learn about the regional patchwork of vineyards around him. During his student years he trained in Bordeaux, Portugal and Germany. These were the important regions in the wine world before wines arrived from down under and the Americas. Training continued back home, at a London merchants, followed by setting up a UK office on behalf of a Dutch multinational, based in Bordeaux, who owned a group of French fine wine companies. Having moved to Devon, to raise a family, he thought 'I had better put my money where my mouth is' and began to fill a warehouse, in about 2003. The rest, as they say, is history.

Charlie has a careful selection of mainly everyday drinking wines, having done some local tastings to gauge what might work. This is the basis of BVW's tight range and 'all our wines have to sing to us.' If you want a good port, for yourself or a present, you'll find that too.

You might think private wine warehouse means expensive. You'd be wrong! We started with a white Portuguese Quinta Vista Lisboa, suitable for vegans and vegetarians, at £6.99. We did finish with a red 2016 Gigondas at £21.49, but the other four wines were at prices in between. They included a delicious Cremant de Loire Rosé, at £12.99, superb with anything, or nothing! Who needs Champagne?

Tell Charlie what you're looking for and he'll find it for you. Helpful and knowledgeable service is free, but that's worth its weight in gold ... or good wine!

Most of our members wanted to support The Globe, 'use it or lose it', for our Christmas Gathering, so 41 of us arrived on the evening of

4th December. This was earlier in the month than our usual celebratory tastings, but we felt it was a good idea to avoid a skittles match! It was a merry event and an easy one for all of our lady members, who usually step up to the mark, or plate, and provide excellent festive fare. On this

occasion we just sat and ate what was put in front of us, from a previously-chosen menu. We were all able to sip our way through the evening, drinking our own selections and nobody had to provide a presentation - it was good company, food and drink!

When you drink a wine, you don't, necessarily, think about what is in it, or, perhaps whether it tastes like the grapes that were picked to produce it. David Rowe, retired Plymouth University lecturer and retired PETROC Recreational Wine Lecturer did just that at our first 2020 meeting in January.

His six wines: two whites, a rosé, two reds and a dessert wine were all bought from The Wine Society to illustrate six different aspects of wine tasting and selection. Consumption and evaluation are through looking, smelling, tasting and thinking.

Chateau Vartely, Viorica from the Republic of Moldova was first and chosen to introduce us to an unfamiliar area, an inexpensive wine, £6.95, and with a subtle flavour. It was all three to all. The grape, Viorica, is rare: less than 20 hectares in the world.

Wine two, Bollenberg Cuvee Prestige Theo Cattin et Fils, was double the price, £13.95, a Gewurztraminer, from Alsace, France. On the nose, it reminded me of Turkish Delight and was described as a food-friendly wine. It was a deliberate contrast to the first and definitely wasn't subtle.

Our rosé was pale for this wine type; however, it was interesting because it was Corsican, another unfamiliar wine territory. Vin de Corse Calvi, was £13.50 and 90% Nielluccio, or Sangiovese of Chianti fame. David's other point for inclusion was its 'esters'. These are the aromatic, fruity compounds, formed during fermentation and ageing: the strawberries, green apples or roses that we can smell and maybe taste in wine.

Wine made the old way, without commercial yeasts was next. Its perfume affected me! Old tobacco smoke, coffee and burned wood created negative thoughts. The French Gamay, selected to illustrate an aspect of traditional Beaujolais was £11.95. The Terres Dorées, L'Ancien Beaujolais is atypical of this wine variety.

Italian terroir and winemaking skills produced the fifth tasting aspect. This £16.00 red was Alovini, Aglianico del Vulture. It's currently on offer at £13.50, a remarkable price because other examples of this well-made wine ... sell at £26 to £30 a bottle. Most of us approved of David's choice!

The Portuguese love their sweet egg-based desserts, Pastel de Nata, is a national dish and D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Like a custard tart, but infinitely better! David didn't supply these, but the Adega De Pegoes, Moscatel de Setubal, £9.95, was sampled with 70% dark chocolate. It matched this too. Chosen because it was well made, matured in oak and a take on the traditional sweet and fortified Muscat.

Our February meeting on the 19th will be the ever-popular Call My Wine Bluff, and this will be followed in March, on the 18th, with speaker Toby McKinnel from the 10-acre Vineyard at Winkleigh.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

A numbers' game!

The 3rd Wednesday of October, saw the 1st evening of Berrynarbor Wine Circle's 2019-20 season. We began with our AGM, usually less than 10 minutes; however, on this occasion, we had discussions about our forthcoming Christmas event, so deliberations took 20 minutes and then we returned to 6 other matters, our tastings.

For some time, we have expected to see Chris Bullimore of the Wine Beer Supermarket, in Cherbourg. Unfortunately, he had a much-needed hospital appointment on the Thursday morning, the day after our 1st meeting, so, understandably, he needed to cancel for the 4th time! He seems to come, or not as the case maybe, with a lot of Murphy's Law!

At the 11th hour, Tony, our Chairman, stood in, and presented Booze on a Budget. We sampled a Cremante de Loire, a white fizz. Cremante is described as being streets ahead of Prosecco, but the latter has benefitted, somewhat, from a boost by Italian marketing. It's driving their growth, according to the National Institute of Statistics. Taste was O.K, but many thought it was too fizzy. We followed this with a 2018 white, Cotes du Rhone, unusual, as Cotes du Rhones are usually red. Our last white was a Sauvignon Blanc. People talk about the nose, some dismiss this, but one sniff from the glass and most around us said it smelled strong, which matched its taste. This was a punchy, typical Marlborough, New Zealand S.B. It was produced in a single vineyard in the Awatere Valley. Geoff, my husband, is a white wine drinker, often drinks S.B., but didn't like this one. Others near us weren't that keen either.

Our next 3 wines, all red, were Portuguese, French and Italian. Our 1st was the Azinhaga de Ouro, a 2017 - wow! This was a Douro Reserva; it was a beautiful brown-red and SOooo smooth. Many loved it and, apparently, it would keep for up to 5 years. Probably wouldn't in our house! Geoff cannot drink much red, but said he'd be prepared to have a migraine for this one! The Rasteau, 2016, from the Rhone Valley followed; it wasn't as smooth as the Douro, but it was 15%, whereas the Douro was 14%. Our Rasteau was described as being a good vintage. Barolo, sounds Italian and is. Ours was a 2014, 14%, that had a distinctive flavour; it too had a good brown-red colour. This was good, but most of us thought that the Douro was better. Tony had purchased all of these from Lidl's in Ilfracombe. As an organisation, Lidl's are seeking to stock better wines and as their slogan is 'When it's gone, it's gone', if you see something, you really do need to buy it there and then. Our dearest of the night was £11.99, the Barolo, but

the cheapest of the evening was £5.99 and the wow factor, yes, the Douro! We have, bought a number already!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

Next Meeting: Wednesday, 15th January - Call My Wine Bluff

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit,

the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship and the

gate of pleasant folly! W.E.P. French

Wine isn't for everybody, but it's the second choice after beer in the UK: 32% versus 35%.Apparently, in 2017, we consumed 20 litres of 'grape juice' per person. I know that foreign travel has done a lot for this industry, so it's appropriate that we shall start our season with a Brit whose home is in Hampshire but who works in France. I know, too, that some of our members have travelled to WBS on their return from elsewhere, but stocking up here is also possible as a day trip!

Chris Bullimore is a Manager with the Wine Beer Supermarket. He has worked for this company for many years. Originally, he was based at Roscoff, Brittainy, but has changed location recently and now heads up WBS in Cherbourg, Normandy.

We have been trying to get him to do a presentation for us for some time: work commitments, ferry travel, a house move and ill health have all accounted for his absence; however, patience is a virtue and we start 2019-20 season with Chris. I hope I'm not tempting fate, but he has said he will be with us for Wednesday 16th October. I suspect his topic will be to introduce us to some of WBS stock items.

For November's gathering we shall be welcoming back Charlie Cotton of Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, on the 20th. Charlie founded BVW and his passion and knowledge are boundless. He will, I'm sure, be tempting us with some of their samples, great for socialising with friends and family during Yuletide. Talking of which, Christmas tipples and sustenance will be enjoyed on December 11th.

Twenty-twenty is associated with vision, but it's next year too! We shall start with our very popular and very funny Call My Wine Bluff on 15th January.

David Rowe is also making a return. He will be with us on the 19th February. David was the Recreational Wine Tutor at Petroc. Those present in January will know that we were treated to a fascinating slide show and tastings from Armenia and Georgia. I'm sure his next presentation will be another winter treat.

Our spring programme is too many months away to mention here, but I hasten to add that our meetings are always Wednesdays, between October and May. The Manor Hall is our venue and we start at 8.00 p.m. It's a great way to meet people other than your neighbours and is a cheap night out. For just a £5 annual joining fee and a £7 per person evening fee, you can enjoy six tastings, biscuits, cheese and free camaraderie!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

William Shakespeare, Othello

We, the committee members, have had our planning meeting and have eight months of potential presenters and tastings; however, we shall have to leave you in suspense for a few weeks, until our communications become confirmations! Meanwhile, I can reveal our 2019-20 list of Wine Circle Wednesdays:

16th October 20th November 11th December 15th January

19th February 18th March 15th April 20th May

These start at 8.00 p.m. and are at our newly re-vamped, and, therefore, smart and inviting Manor Hall. There are plenty of seats available for new members!

None of us are wine buffs, but these evenings are, by today's standards, a cheap, and convivial, evening out. There is a £5 annual joining fee only and a £7 per person evening fee, which covers wine, biscuits, cheese and hall hire costs. If you enjoy a glass, or six tastings, try us and it out!

Meanwhile, as summer appears to be here and chilled white wine is excellent refreshment, you may like to sip and sample two very different whites that we've tasted recently. Either would make great alternatives to the sauvignon blanc that seems to have grabbed the nation, by the throat!

Vinho Verde, means, literally, green wine, but can also translate to young wine. Geoff and I have drunk this here, but in June we went to Lisbon, to meet up with an Ozzie-based friend and it's very popular in Portugal and cheap! It isn't a grape variety but a D.O.C. for this wine's production. The term refers to Portuguese wine, designated in 1908, in the historic Minho Province in the far north of the country; however, now the modern-day Vinho Verde region, includes the old Minho province plus adjacent areas to the south. It's the biggest DOC in Portugal.

Ours were always slightly effervescent. In its early years of production, this slight fizziness came from malolactic fermentation, or fermentation occurring in the bottle. The wine industry would consider this to be a fault, but VV producers found that consumers enjoyed this. Today, most Vinho Verde producers add this slight sparkle by artificial carbonation. Over here, Sainsbury's has this for about £6.50 and Majestic's stocks begin at £7.99.

We, and our Ozzie friend, found it good to drink with or without food and enjoyed its slight sparkle. It went down very well with a savoury platter, tapas and our fish dishes.

Summer seems to be a great time for socialising and, closer to home, we've entertained our Shropshire-based friends recently. One night, perhaps because they are land-locked, they suggested a fish and chip supper; we took them to a well-known restaurant in Braunton. Our friend chose the wine, the English, Shoreline, made by Lyme Bay Winery. Wines made from several grapes have a more complex flavour and Shoreline is a mix of Bacchus, Pinot Blanc, Reichensteiner and Seyval Blanc grapes. It's won awards, and deservedly so, but this one isn't under a tenner. Ignoring the restaurant price, it can be bought for £14.49 a bottle at Waitrose & Partners, which is the cheapest online supplier that I could find. Lyme Bay Winery describe it as a wine for seafood. They are right!

Judith Adam - Promotional C-ordinator & Secretary

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A PERSONAL LETTER FROM JOE TUCKER

Your North Devon District Councillor

Dear friends,

Please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for the very warm welcome I received when visiting Berrynarbor during the election campaign.

It is an honour and privilege to be representing you for the next

4 years, and I assure you that I shall give 100% support to my duties as your District Councillor.

During my election campaign there were issues brought to my attention which I shall discuss with the Parish Council and District Council to try and resolve. I should greatly appreciate if you would contact me direct if you require my help or assistance with any issue you may have.

During my visits to Berrynarbor over the election period, one of the main concerns regarding Berrynarbor was why you were removed from the Combe Martin ward and placed in the Marwood ward.

The answer is: The decision to carry out a review of North Devon District Council ward boundaries was not made by the District Council but by the Local Government Boundary Commissioner. A review is carried out when population changes have occurred resulting in an unexpectable proportion of the wards having too high a number of electors per councillor. The review must take account of local issues and must also plan population growth and changes for the immediate future.

In reviewing the boundaries, the Local Government Boundary Commission invites the District Council to submit its own proposals. Prior to doing this, the District Council consulted a number of times with Parish Councils.

The LGBC considered the District Council's plan, visited the area, and came up with recommendations which were again passed out with consultation with the parishes. The LGBC then made the final report and the conclusion of that came into force at the recent local elections.

I do understand and share your concerns but can assure you that I shall do everything to ensure that Berrynarbor and the Marwood ward is a success, and will receive a comprehensive representation from myself and the District Council.

I shall be visiting Berrynarbor on a regular basis so do not hesitate to contact me if you require a personal visit.

My e-mail is frederick.tucker@northdevon.gov.uk and my telephone number is [01271] 328890.

Kind regards

Joe Tucker

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

When I put my nose in a glass, it's like tunnel vision - every bit of mental

energy is focused on that wine.

Robert M. Parker, Jr. (a U.S. wine critic)

I have to admit to drinking wine as a teenager, but then I can blame my dear father. He came home one evening with a bottle of white wine and said that it would be good for us to taste it because wine was becoming the thing to drink with your evening meal. I shall never forget that tasting, it was Entre Deux Mers! I've learned a bit and drunk a bit since then!

Nigel Pound, Radio Devon's Wine Wizard taught me, and I suspect others, more during his excellent April presentation. He has sold his esteemed Totnes Wines' business, so all of his time is devoted, now, to his wine consultancy, here and abroad. His tasting trips sound fun and journeys of liquid education! He says choosing a good wine is easy. Once his nose is over that opened bottle, he asks himself: "Is it well made? Is it tasty? Does it suit my palate?"

When we, and I mean the Adam duo, drink a white wine, it is often a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and I know numerous others who choose the same. We do like others, but it tends to be SB. We started with one from Cotes de Gascogne. Animated Nigel stated enthusiastically, "This should be an aperitif." He's right, it was a great aperitif. Acidity ruins food! Drink with nibbles. White wine with food should be grassy and herby, not gooseberries.

I've heard people say 'Can't stand Chardonnay'. I know I've said I don't like it and I know it makes my mouth wince; it reminds me of chemicals, others say it's buttery. Chardonnays can be two things: oaked or unoaked and there is a huge difference. Nigel treated us to a single vineyard, single vintage Chardonnay, or Bourgogne Blanc, from the Domaine de Rochebin Clos St Germain. He only makes 600 bottles of this. It was lovely. It was a 2017, 12.5% and £15, the dearest of the night. I've tasted unoaked Chardonnays before, but I won't be generalising again and saying "I don't like Chardonnay 2, but I will say "I like unoaked Chardonnay!"

Here's another Nigel tip: Don't bother buying anything under £8. You're wasting your money. Wine at this price is moved around a lot and moving it means sulphites and, of course, you're paying tax on this! Sulphur gives you the headaches, but to keep wine, it needs sulphur, otherwise it would oxidise. Wine can be given up to four doses of sulphur, because of its process and transportation, but if you see 'Bottled on Estate', it only has one dose of sulphur!

Geoff liked all the reds, which is unusual, as reds can trigger a migraine, so he sticks to whites; however, Calmel-Joseph are consultants. Nigel told us: "They make good wines in other people's vineyards. They make the wine." Their Vieux Carignan, Cotes de Brian, was a hit with most or all. It was 2017, 14.5% and just a tenner. The Brians among us loved it too and the 'old' is due to this wine being pure Carignan vines that were planted in 1890.

I don't know all there is to know about wine. I like drinking it with my meal, as a chilled aperitif with or without friends on a summer's evening and tasting new ones, previously unknown, at our Wine Circle. I like it to be interesting enough to learn more. Jancis Robinson is synonymous with wine. I used her website to investigate Carignan. She says: Carignan is a curious red wine grape. It's planted worldwide and is the single most common vine variety planted in the world's most important wine producer - France; however, Merlot, at the end of the 20th century superseded it and most wine drinkers have never heard of it. I hadn't, but I have now and I enjoyed drinking it!

Wine is inspiring and adds greatly to the joy of living.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The Wine Circle ran amok while the cat, sorry, that's the Chairman, was away! We didn't have our usual May AGM as a result and the Treasurer was seen relaxing . . . oh, yes, and his table won both raffle prizes!

On a serious note, Members' Choices provided the finalé to our 2018-19 season. Each couple provided their choice of wine for whatever reason: bubbles and reds appeared to be the favourites.

Our table began with a pink fizz: Langlois Brut Rosé, a Cremant de Loire, 12.5% and pure Cabernet Franc. Everybody enjoyed its freshness, very drinkable. Purchased from Bray Valley Wines, it should retail at between £10-£15. Three good reds followed: a French Merlot-Cabernet minus sulphites, a trophy-winning French Cabernet Sauvignon and a Spanish Campo-Vieja Rioja. We ended with a 14% Italian silk: a Nero Oro: Sicily's Black Gold. It was delicious, probably because it was an Appassimento, meaning that grapes are left on the vine until they raisin or are air-dried after picking. Result: the grapes' sugar is concentrated and raises the alcohol producing a more complex, stronger wine. Majestic's are selling this for £9.99.

This season has finished; however, we restart at 8.00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16th in our re-decorated and very smart-looking Manor Hall. We managed to fill the enlarged area with laughter, but there's always plenty of space for new members!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Wine is the most civilised thing in the world.

Ernest Hemingway

January seems a long time ago, particularly when February was spring-like, but David Rowe's January presentation, a first for us, was a fascinating winter's evening event. He was Petroc's Recreation Wine Tutor and his 'History of Wine' was enlightening, as he talked of unfamiliar places for wines: Armenia and Georgia. Sadly, these countries are absent in supermarkets or off-licences as origin names, which is a shame. Slides of maps and ancient-style vats added another level of interest.


Wine purchase from these areas is tricky; most Armenian wine is exported to Armenian restaurants in, for example, London, Birmingham and Manchester. Our North Devon tastings were a first for the supplier and probably for this region! They have whetted my appetite to sample again, with local food. Amazingly, there is sufficient evidence to suggest, strongly, that wine has been produced in Armenia, Georgia and upper Mesopotamia: the uplands and plain of north-western Iraq, north-eastern Syria and south-eastern Turkey, for about 10,000 years B.C.

Unsurprisingly, Armenia and Georgia use grapes that most of us have, probably, never heard of before: Yoskehat, Sireni, Rkatsiteli and Saperavi. Our first wine came from the Kataro Winery in the Armenia Highlands: it was a dry white wine from their signature white grape, Voskehat. Koor, £15.75, a smooth and medium-bodied 2015 vintage, had definite floral notes. A group of young friends started this Winery in 2014, because they wanted to contribute to the Armenian wine revival. They are striving to ensure that it is recognised as an ancient wine-making country across the world and are embracing the latest wine-making technologies, but they are still cherishing its ancient secrets.

Our second Armenian wine was the Kataro Dry Red, 2015, also via Armenian Wine Importers, but was made from the Sireni grape. This was £14.95. It was deep red in colour with dark berry and ripe red fruit aromas and would be great with an Armenian barbeque, strong local cheeses and rich food in general. We had to imagine the food accompaniment, but it was a good red wine! The winery, Domaine Avetissyan, is located on a picturesque hillside in the Republic of Artsakh.

A neighbour of Armenia, Georgia's indigenous white grape is the Rkatsiteli and is one of the oldest known grape varieties still in use; it's an ancient version of a vinifera grape. Prior to the Soviet Union's collapse, it was grown in vast plantations in unlikely places like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Currently, it is planted in other Eastern European countries, North America and China. The Rkatsiteli - Tbilvino, 2016, was only £9.99 and was a pale golden wine. Due to the grape's high acidity, they are picked as late as possible, usually, late October at the earliest, to maximise the sugar balance.

Two of Georgia's most famous grapes are Rkatsiteli and Saperavi; these were blended together to create Alazani, a dark rosë. Saperavi flesh is pink, so it's this and not the grape skins that colour the fermented grape juice. It's produced by the Tiblivino Winery Team, 2105, and was £9.99. The Georgian Wine Society, GWS, its supplier, regards it as being a real local personality and would go well with fish and cold meats. This hardy variety grape is also grown in Niagara, New York State, the former USSR countries and Australia.

Our last two red wines were both deep red with body and structure and were also produced and supplied by the same Team and Society as the rosë. Five was £11.99; six was £14.99. They were both 2016. Our fifth, Georgian Valleys is an unusual product, because it is only fermented after four days maceration on the skins. Before final maturation it sits in a mixture of oak barrels and concrete tanks. David felt that it was a good example of the more modern style of wines emerging from Georgia.

Finally, Qvevris Saperavi is an example of a wine made using one of the oldest winemaking techniques known to man. Centuries ago, the picked grapes would be loaded into a clay pot, the qvevri, which had been sunk into the ground. The surrounding soil moderated and controlled the fermentation temperature. It is thought that whole bunches were loaded into the pot. Once full, it was sealed with a layer of olive oil or wax then a clay plug and possibly sealed with pine resin. Natural yeasts meant that this wine would be pale and only have about 5% alcohol. Now, cultured or manufactured yeasts enable this to reach 12 or 14% alcohol and, pumps and filters clarify it; however, the GWS does state that it is Qvevri-fermented and it was 12.5%. As I've said, it's a shame that these wines are not on our shelves, maybe one day . . .

February's Call my Wine Bluff adhered to its usual, popular and hilarious format: three male deceivers, six wines and six teams! Blind tastings were:

As I was concentrating on tasting feedback, my notes were non-existent. In our defence, the deceivers' wives were the smallest team and perhaps our team name, Bottoms Up, was a forecast! We were bottom but as I said to all at the end of the evening, 'That just proves that we don't see the scripts!' We may have been bottom but it was another fun evening and it's all about the taking part!

Thanks to Nic and Barry for making available the back room of Ye Olde Globe, the March meeting was treated to wines from 2015 to 2018 by Charlie Cotton, proprietor of Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, who initially withheld prices as: "people pre-judge wines on price"!

His wines took us from Sicily and Italy, Chile to the high altitude of Argentina before crossing to the Loire and Burgundy regions of France, with flavours as diverse as 'gunflint' and 'farmyard.'

Described as a different wine at £7.99, the 13%, 2017 white Fiano Miopasso by Stefano Girelli in eastern Sicily presented a clean fresh start to the evening, an easy-to-drink aperitif or a good match with seafood. Wine two was a non-expensive Sancerre alternative - the benchmark for Loire wines. Located a few miles from Sancerre, Domaine JP Bailly uses traditional methods to produce its 2017 Pouilly Blanc Fume, a 12.5% white wine with a hint of gunflint, as its name fume implies, yet with a long finish in the mouth. Available at £14.99, it sells at around £45 per bottle in hotels and restaurants!

The last white was Chardonnay Alpha from Valle de Casablanca Montes, Chile's quality wine-growing region best known for its crisp white wines; this is NOT the heavy-oaked Australian style Chardonnay but a wine from a coastal vineyard which spends a third of its pre-bottled life in French oak barrels. Forget any prejudice against Chardonnay, this 13.5% 2016 new-world wine is worth its price of £12.99.

Turning to the reds, the 2017 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC from the Gran Sasso Italian vineyard is produced by a young individual team rather than the usual co-operatives; the hand-picked temperature-controlled fermentation of the Montepulciano grape produces a 13% wine with lots of fruit flavours; it won't set the world on fire but at £9.89 it's very drinkable. Argentina is renowned for its Malbec and that from Frenchman Patricio Gougenheim is no exception. Leaving a career in finance in 2002, he revived a neglected vineyard in the Uco Valley at an altitude of 1,000m. His Malbec is VERY Malbec, a rich, firm easy-to-drink red with good length.

On presenting the last wine, Charlie stated: 'you won't like this!' only to be proved wrong by some. The 2015 Santenay Les Hates Burgundy from Domaine Franck Lamargue, produced on 12 hectares using Pinot Noir grapes, results in a 13.5% wine with an acidity that many dislike. At £22 a bottle, this is not a wine to sit and drink but a food-wine, one suited especially to fatty meat meals - "a real farmyard wine", to quote Charlie!

We hope that the hall's building work goes to plan, so that we can return to it for April's meeting in the 17th, when we shall see the return of enthusiastic Nigel Pound, owner of Totnes Wine and Radio Devon's Wine Guru.

May brings an end to our 2018-19 season. This begins with the briefest of AGMs, followed by Members' Choices.

There is still time to join us! Just turn up on the night, sample and see!

Geoff and Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Whenever a man is tired, wine is a great restorer of strength.'

Homer, The Iliad

Majestic made a welcome return in November and Greg Cleverdon, a new face for us, but not to wine, gave us an excellent presentation. His wine selection was a timely-planned invitation to show us some of their wine stock and to tempt us for Christmas purchases. It worked!

They were all good. We started with the oldest white: an As Caixas Godello, 2015 from Galicia, north-west Spain. Many seemed to favour the Godello grape, which has gained increasing recognition as a quality varietal in its own right. If you wanted it as an alternative to a usually-preferred Sauvignon Blanc, this could be the one. We, and others, made the journey to Old Station Road and bought some! It may have been the cheapest, but it seemed it tickled many taste buds! This was followed by one of their Definition range: a Gruner Veltliner 2017 from Austria, a Silver Medal winner. The final white was a Spanish Mas Querido Field Blend 2017. Field blends are gathering in popularity. The owner of the vineyard for this product bought a derelict vineyard. It was overgrown and he didn't know what grape, or grapes they were. He cut it back, dramatically, and mixed it. Every year his wine is different. In tasting order, prices for these were £8.99, £10.99 and £7.99; however, they are £1 or £2 per bottle cheaper if you buy six.

Sicilian sun and dried grapes contributed to our first red and the Nero Oro Appassimento 2016 was an enjoyable beginning. It was followed by another member of their Definition' range. On a personal note, I enjoy a Spanish Rioja, and this Reserva 2010 was good, but the best was yet to come! Malbec has, over time, become a personal favourite, but I appreciate that it can be too strong or punchy for some. The Vina alba Malbec-Touriga National Reserve 2015, from Mendoza, Argentina, made for an interesting blend, suitable with a large array of dishes - rich or spicy casseroles. The addition of the Touriga National added complexity; it was full of flavour and I'd drink it again and again: delicious! Funnily enough, this too fell into our Majestic trolley before Christmas! Reds' prices were £9.99, £13.99 and £12.99, again in tasting order, with a £1, £2 or £3 reduction for six.

Pedro Ximenez Triana is Christmas Pudding - in a bottle! Greg produced an unexpected pre-Christmas treat for us as he passed around tasters of this very dark, rich and opulently sweet sherry as the finale to our very enjoyable evening. The Bodegas Hidalgo was founded in 1792 and ages the Pedro Ximenez grapes in oak casks for several years. PX is a superb dessert wine but poured over vanilla ice-cream - delicioso! Don't bother to cook, just present ice-cream and PX! It's £16.99 or £14.99 when you buy seis!

Comyn Farm is still a working farm, buried in the Chambercombe area of Ilfracombe. It's an easy short hop from Berrynarbor and great for couples or parties. To celebrate our 30th anniversary, and still going strong, forty-five of us clambered on local buses and were chauffeured the few miles for the occasion. We took our own wines, which was useful, and enjoyed proper farmhouse cooking, and, I suspect, the event was a great restorer in many ways! The photo depicts the chatting before the eating!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

Please note that the March meeting of the Wine Circle will be one week earlier, on the 13th March, in the Function Room at The Globe.


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BERRYNARNOR WINE CIRCLE

My nose itched, and I knew I should drink wine or kiss a fool. Jonathan Swift

Our timetable for 2018-2019 was signed and sealed in August, and, therefore, to re-plan our first event in October wasn't expected, but Tony Summer's early October e-mail telling of a disaster, was a bolt from the blue, particularly as he was enjoying Spanish sunshine! Our Roscoff-based presenter, Chris Bullimore, had to extricate himself, yet again, this time due to a forthcoming house move.

Geoff and I took pity on Tony, put brains into gear, collected some wines and presented A Lot to Yapp About. As family members live in Sussex, we use the A303 on a regular basis. Some years ago, heading homewards, we spotted an elderly blue Citroen van promoting Yapp Bros Wines at Mere. We assumed that this was a new business, but didn't forget the van with its innovative and memorable advertising.

Helpful staff at Yapp's told us that this isn't a new business, far from it; they've been going for 49 years. Sadly, that lovely old van was severely vandalized. The family removed it from the roadside, had it repaired and sold it, for £10,000. Thanks to a lorry driver's dash cam, the culprits were traced and charged: a positive result thanks to modern technology!

Yapp Bros was started by Robin Yapp, dentist, now retired, who encountered the good stuff' when working as a Scarborough waiter. Having moved from Yorkshire to Wiltshire, he set up the Mere business in 1969. This award-winning wine merchant specialises in French wines. Indeed, the London Evening Standard described them as 'probably the UK's leading specialist in French regional wines, especially from the Rhone and the Loire valleys', but their stock now includes Spanish and German; however, we chose six French examples.

Some thought that all wines were good, even excellent; however, it was surprising to see that some caused considerable controversy. One white and one red, particularly, caused pleasure and smiles for some members, but others tipped them away, gave them to their neighbours or were drunk with grimaces as if they were prescribed unpleasant medicine!

Our first wine was described by Yapps as a bone-dry white wine. It was a Muscadet, and, like all wines, is personal preference; it was dry and pale. Yapp's Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sûr Lie: Domaine de la Mortaine 2017 was controversial. Those that liked it thought it would make a great aperitif or an accompaniment with oysters, mussels or fruits de mer. Unfortunately, our budget doesn't extend to fancy fish; I'm sure it would have made a difference, but so be it. It was 12% and £10.95.

St Pourçain, Cuvée Printaniere Blanc 2017, Union des Vignerons is a 12.5% wine, and was also £10.95. The ABC brigade, Anything but Chardonnay, were reminded that these weren't all the same. Many don't like anything to do with Chardonnay, but this was 80% Chardonnay with 20% of Tresallier. This addition is a Loire curio, but it made a great deal of difference and was enjoyed by many.

The final white, also 12.5%, was a Chenin Blanc, from Chinon, a town in Touraine. Only 2% of Chinon wines are white; this rarity was from the vineyard of Domaine Jean-Maurice Raffault. Unsurprisingly perhaps, this was our dearest wine of the night at £14.75. Interestingly, even though the previous white was a Chardonnay, many thought that this was better than the Chinon, suggesting that price does not mean that it's a foregone conclusion that everybody will like it!

A Gamay from the Ardeche, in the south of France, was our first red. It was a Vin de Pays, Vignerons Ardèchois, another 12.5%, but only £9.95. It was produced between Valence and Vienne, in the heart of the southern Rhone. Yapps stated that it would drink well lightly-chilled in the summer. Well, it was October, it wasn't chilled, but its pale red hue suggested that it couldn't possibly be a full-bodied red. It wasn't. It was pleasant drinking and I could believe that it would have been good in the summer, as a chilled aperitif.

Both of the red wines that followed were £11.95, but the first was 14%, and, perhaps, should have been drunk as our finalé. It was our oldest wine, 2013, Saint Chinian from the Château Milhau-Lacugue Cuvée Magali. It was a blend of equal volumes of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. The château was a medieval resting place for pilgrims en route to St Jacques de Compostela and if you know Puisserguier, near Beziers, you may have seen this large south-facing vineyard. The Chinian would be good with Toulouse sausages or a course pâté de compagne. Jean Lacugue's wines also make their way to the tables at Michel Roux Jr's Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, so perhaps it wasn't surprising that many members thought this wine should be sampled again and again!

As Yapps are a Rhône specialist, we were treated to their flagship Côtes du Rhône. Trescartes 2015, St Gayan is a mix of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre. Jean-Pierre Meffre is based in Gigondas and the Meffre family have been wine-making since the 17th C. His father was instrumental in winning the Appellation Contrôllée status for Gigondas in 1971 and changing the law regarding the percentage of Grenache, which was raised from 65% to 85% in 1985. Jean-Pierre has an impeccable track record and, is regarded as being one of the commune's finest estates.

It is always good to have the opportunity to taste, to have the opportunity to sample food and drink from around the world, particularly if you can do this in the comfort of your own village. It is always interesting to see that taste and approval, is, most definitely, personal choice.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Berrynarbor Wine Circle was born in 1988; it doesn't take a mathematician to work out that we've been going for 30 years. That's quite a period of time for anything these days! Geoff and I joined in October, 2007, about a month after we moved here; we've been members ever since and look forward to our October to May Wednesday evenings. We are not wine buffs, none of us are; we just enjoy sampling and learning about the different varieties of wine available, worldwide.

Our celebratory year begins at 8.00 p.m., 17th October, in the Manor Hall.

         We shall be welcoming Chris Bullimore of the WineBeer Supermarket in Roscoff, Brittany.

         November sees Majestic returning, with a new member of Barnstaple's team.

         December has been chosen to mark our 30th, with a Christmas celebration at Comyn Farm.

         January is the annual and hilarious 'Call My Wine Bluff' evening.

         In February, we have the pleasure of David Rowe's company. He was Recreational Wine Tutor at Petroc.

         Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, will be sending a new member of their team.

         Nigel Pound, owner of Totnes Wine and Radio Devon's Wine Guru appears again, in April.

         May is the final month of our 2018-19 season, and, therefore, we begin with a very brief AGM, followed by Members' Choices.

 

We meet every 3rd Wednesday of each month, but our Christmas event is the 2nd Wednesday. For those new to the village, it is a great way of meeting people other than your neighbours. Our charges are minimal: an annual fee of £5 per person, usually paid in October, and a monthly charge of £7 per person that covers our overheads: the hall fee, the wine and cheese and biscuits.

NEW MEMBERS ARE VERY WELCOME. Conviviality is completely free of charge!

Judith Adam

 

Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Wine gives great pleasure; and every pleasure is of itself a good. Samuel Johnson

We were supposed to have Chris Bullimore, from the Wine Beer Supermarket in Roscoff, Brittany, in February, but the snowy weather intervened. He offered again for April, but a mini-stroke then intervened, only five days prior to this event; however, Chairman Summers rallied to the cause and covered, ably!

Morrison's, Bideford, is like other supermarkets, as their stocks are dictated by wine buyers, but Tony still managed to produce, an interesting evening. Bideford is just 19 miles from here, but we hadn't used this retailer before. Prices were revealed once we'd sampled . . .

Gerárd Bertrand Reserve Speciale, 2016, was a 12%, French, Sauvignon Blanc. Members' descriptions were: 'a bit sharp', 'seductive', 'bland', 'tinny' and 'thin'. Many Sauvignon Blancs have a fruity perfume or nose, but this was missing.

It's always good to compare and 'Kiri' was also a 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, but produced in Marlborough, in New Zealand's south island. Also a 12%, but everything else was different. Pale lemon in colour, its nose was likened to gooseberry and passion fruit. Additionally, it had delicious fruit flavours. Its label stated: refreshing acidity and a crisp finish; many felt it was noticeably better than the French.

A Sancerre triggered positive "Oohs"! Another 2016 sample and described as elegant and complex; it was specially selected for Morrison's. A Loire product, which has produced Sancerre since Roman times, due to its mineral rich, with chalky soil and steep-sloping hills: perfect conditions for producing juicy grapes; however, some thought our sample would, probably, be the cheap end of Sancerre.

The cheapest created a stir, as it wasn't our first! 1st: £8.50, 2nd: £7.70, 3rd: £13. Marlborough wines are known to produce fruity, punchy Sauvignon Blancs, at reasonable prices.

Tony said it had been difficult to find three bottles of the same type, but chose a Côte du Rhône wine. These are graded: Côte du Rhône, Côte du Rhône Village and then a C. du R.V. with a named village; the latter being the best. We began with a C. du R. Village from Cairanne, aged for 15 months in oak barrels. Le Pinson des Garrigues, 14.5%, was described as highly drinkable. Its grape mix: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvidre, made it very smooth. A mix of grapes provides structure and it would be good with food.

Our next was South African, produced in Parle on the Western Cape. Timestone, 13.5%, was another mix: Shiraz, Cinsault and Mourvedre.its label description included 'lured by the fresh cool water of our natural springs', but Tony didn't hear anybody that liked it!

A St Emillion Grand Cru, 2014, wasn't the dearest of the night, surprisingly. Chateau Lagarelle Puits Rasat, had a brown tinge to it. This chateau is a property in the heart of this appellation. This wine offers well-balanced tasting - complex, witharomas of ripe fruit and subtle woody notes. It had toasted aromas but looked thinner than our first.

The first was £10, our least favourite was £9 and the final sample was £12. Would I bother to drive to Bideford for any of them? Over to you!

'The smell of wine, oh how much more delicate, cheerful, gratifying, celestial and delicious it is than that of oil.' François Rabelais

May is synonymous with AGM's. Many think that these are tedious affairs, but ours are brief and to the point! In just under 5 minutes we were listening to Nigel Pound, Wine Consultant, of Totnes Wines. This is his business and he is a traditional wine merchant. His shop lacks the usual bright lights and racking. Bright lights, by the way, makes wine deteriorate.

Nigel began by saying that he's been involved with wine for 40 years. In addition to being a wine retailer, he travels abroad for research, assists professional auctioneers with valuations of liquid items and is Radio Devon's Wine Wizard with his Saturday appearance, approximately every six weeks. He believes, firmly, that wine is about people; wine is about history and that 70% of wine in the UK is not very good. 'Wine', he said, 'should be produced and bottled in the same country'. The reasoning for this: sulphites would be added at every stage, so it makes complete sense to keep it local.

Our first white was a Montagny Buissonier, 2014, 12.5% and a white Burgundy. One sommelier, via the 'net and passionate about White Burgundy, states it is the ultimate French Chardonnay. Ours was unoaked and it is the oakiness of Chardonnays that give it a bad name; however, this was delicious! We wouldn't drink it on a daily basis as it was £14.95 a bottle. The back label described it as intense and elegant . . exotic fruits and white flowers. It was bottled at the Vignerons de Buxy and a good example of you only get what you pay for!

Piqoli Greco-Fiano, 2016, Basilicata, from Southern Italy, followed. It was 12% and although this wine is produced in a hot climate, the growers have cold cellars and, therefore, are able to make crisp white wines. It was balanced, had a good finish and was £12.50. It was fruity, had acidity and finish.

It's always good to hear different ideas regarding any topic; it helps you to think outside the box. A wine described as a dessert wine, would be served at the end of a meal, usually; however, Nigel suggested that the Clarendelle Amberwine Monbazillac is great served as a slightly sweeter aperitif as it makes you hungry! This 13.5% non-vintage was a mix of three grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscato. The 500ml bottle was £13.95. Ice would weaken it, but, it would, in our opinion, be delightful poured over this, or, served in a very chilled glass!

When growing wine, the first question should be: Is the vineyard in the right place? The 2015 Pierre Amadieu Côtes Du Rhône, Roulepierre comes from Gigondas, south-eastern France and was grown in suitable conditions: poor soil and dry air. It was £8.95 and mostly Grenache and Syrah with a little Mourvedre.

As Nigel's background and possibly his pores ooze wine, he was full of useful snippets of information and reminders: sunshine creates sugar and sugar creates alcohol, which will equate to stronger wine. The K-nom Clos Trotligotte is made in Cahors, France; it was 100% Malbec wine, made by Emmanuel Rybinski. It was dry, 2016, £11.99, 13.5% but had no nose.

Our final wine of the evening was a Rioja, a Lan Crianza, 2014, 13.5%, made with Tempranillo grapes. 'Rioja is Spanish Claret' stated Nigel. It is versatile and was a High-Altitude Wine. The term Crianza indicates that it would have spent one year in an oak barrel; it would also spend another year in a bottle. This was £12.00 a bottle. Nigel recommended that it was drunk at 18oC or 64oF.

Nigel's learned and tasty presentation completed our 2017-2018 season. We've asked him to return for our next. His cheese contact at Creber's in Tavistock will be joining him: sounds good to me!

We are NOT wine buffs, just people who enjoy a glass. If you're not a member, it's a great way to meet more neighbours! We have finished now for the summer but restart at the Manor Hall at 8.00 p.m. on Wednesday 17th October, when we hope to welcome Chris Bullimore.

Newcomers to the village will be very welcome.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Unusually, February's meeting for the Wine Circle was cancelled. The white weather intervened somewhat and as our speaker was from the Wine Beer Supermarket, Roscoff in Brittany, it was agreed by all parties that North Devon on a snowy Wednesday evening may not be the best place to be! Chris Bullimore travels between the UK and France frequently and offered to present to us all on April 18th; the weather should be dry and sunny by then!

As the planned timetable had to change, Berry Bros and Rudd wines will be presented, by Geoff and myself, a month earlier, on March 21st. This company began in 1698, in London and occupies, still, its St James Street premises. They are Britain's original wine and spirit merchant and have supplied our Royal Family since the reign of King George III. A great deal has been achieved, and, therefore, we should be fortunate enough to taste some great wines!

May's meeting, May 16th, will begin with our AGM, which will be complete but brief. This will be followed by Radio Devon's Wine Wizard, Nigel Pound. This meeting will be the last one of the 2018-19 season.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary

15



Berrynarbor Wine Circle

Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself.Basil Bunting (poet)

Our Christmas event, Committee's Choice and Members' Festive Fare, occurred on Wednesday December 13th, in the Manor Hall.It was an amazing event;amazing because the Hall was filled with happy voices, when they were not eating superb cuisine made in the village, by our lady members, washed down with six excellent wines and all for free!Where can you beat that?

Wine suppliers were: our friends at Bray Valley Wines of South Molton, Majestic, Morrisons and Virgin Wines.The cheapest was surprising; it was a Hungarian Gruner Veltliner and only £6.99 a bottle.Many thought it was a great find.This 2016 wine was one of over 300 blind tastings carried out by Majestic in order to find 'the cream of the crop'.It really delivered on incredible quality and value.

Our dearest was a Marlborough-busting Adelaide Hills classic!This was a cool fruit, Sauvignon Blanc from South Australia, rather than New

27.Zealand.It should have been £13.49, but, Virgin Wines Online supplied it for just under £10.00 per bottle.Beneficio, Adelaide Hills is described on the VWO website as having aromas that leap out at you and a killer citrus zest that keeps the fruit charging along to the juicy end.

Both whites were very good.It was easy to decide which was the cheapest; however, if you want to crack open a chilled bottle on a summer's day, that won't break the bank, the Hungarian deserves tasting, perhaps, repeatedly, just to make sure, of course, that it's OK!

I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me. Winston Churchill

Having spotted this quote, I felt I had to use it, as the film, The Darkest Hour, focuses on his early days as P.M, is to have general release days before we have our popular, Call My Wine Bluff event, on Wednesday 17th January.In our household, both are awaited eagerly.

Judith Adam

As has become usual for our January meeting, the theme was Call my Wine Bluff. This is a great fun evening loosely based on the old BBC2 program Call My Bluff. 

The wines for the evening are tasted blind and after each one, the panel of three experts, also known as the three prevaricators, each give a description of the wine.Of course, only one is telling the truth!

The members in teams of 6 have to decide who is telling the truth, the age of the wine and the price, and get points accordingly. 

As the scores are revealed at the end of each round one can imagine the banter and leg pulling that goes on, particularly for a low score!

The winners for the evening were called the Cuatro Amigos, who won a wonderful prize of a packet of M & M's, for the rest, a wonderful social evening with some very tasty wines!

Next month's meeting will be held on the 4th Wednesday of February, 28th, as our presenter is coming from Roscoff and prior to that date, there are no suitable ferries. 

Tony Summers

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'What is better than to sit at the table at the end of the day and drink wine with friends'?James Joyce

Some time ago, the Wine Circle was treated to a presentation by the shop's Managers: Debbie and Karen.It was an excellent evening, so much so that we had no hesitation to offer the shop a 'slot' for our current season.

Karen, supported ably by Vicki Elden, a Shop Volunteer and Wine Circle member, delivered, literally, a Wine and Cheese Evening, with all products from our marvellous village shop.Wine prices sit between £4.50 and £14.99, so a bottle needn't break the bank either. There were some 'stars' on the night and they deserve the following space!

We began with a Tanti Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry. The Glera grapes were from the banks of Lake Garda and produced by a leading family-owned vineyard. It would be good with fish, shellfish, appetisers and snacks, or cheeses, and was! Its price, just £7.99, matches equivalents from local supermarkets, but without the mileage!

Our third, the dearest white, is £11.59, but it's dearer online. It was English but, actually, Devonian.Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve 2015 comes from the banks above the Dart, near Totnes. It was described as off-dry with rounded mellowness.Mmmm, I agreed with that; it was lovely. It deserved its award for the Best Dry White Wine in the South West vineyards completion 2017. The Sharpham Estate has been producing wines and unpasteurised cheeses for more than 20 years.

We had their Sharpham Brie too; this was good, extremely good! It was voted runner up in the Best Soft Cheese category in the Great British Cheese Awards this year.On a personal note, we love our cheese and would eat this one every day of the week, if it wasn't for feeling we should watch the cholesterol intake.

Running Duck, Cabernet Sauvignon, £7.99, is a South African organic, and familiar with many Circle members, because we've had it before.Its unusual and memorable name relates to the Indian Running Ducks used by the Trawal vineyard to eat the vineyard's pests. It's a popular purchase from the shop because being organic it, unusually, doesn't contain the sulphites, a preservative, believed to cause RWH. That's red-wine hangover to you and me.It would go well with a punchy pasta dish, pizza and dare I add, duck!As a red wine drinker, I think this is great value and the fact that its makers have created wine without the sulphur dioxide has proved to the industry that you can create wine without the inclusion of chemicals!

Our other white was a Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016, £8.49, less than Majestic's. Our 1st and 3rd reds were a Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages, £10.99 and a Barefoot. The latter was a Californian Merlot, £6.99, and has been a gold medal winner.

In addition to the Sharpham Brie we tried and tested goats' cheese: a Ticklemore Goat, also from the Sharpham dairy and the West Country Billie Goats' cheese.The former was semi-hard, but moist, slightly crumbly.The Devonshire Devil is a great-tasting mature Cheddar. Many people don't like goat's cheese, but, on the other hand, many present liked these.The Devonshire Cheddar was devilishly good: a rich, creamy cheese with a slight nuttiness.

The shop's shelves boast 30 varieties of wine.Up to 50 different cheeses, all from the south west, are in their chilled cabinet, throughout the year! That's a staggering number and very impressive for a rural village shop! Some of the wines are not found on large retailers' shelves, such as the Running Duck range.Local produce has travelled fewer miles than many mass-produced products and small or family-owned producers always seem to manage to include a certain 'je ne sais quoi': an indefinable quality.They are well worth a try!

'God in His goodness sent the grapes to cheer both great and small;'Anonymous

Once upon a time there was a wine company whose business was entirely wholesale. Thankfully, that has changed, because Bray Valley Wines of South Molton are a friendly, professional, knowledgeable, privately-owned company who give great personal service. They claim that their aim is: quality, value and excellent service; it is.They sell easy drinking wines at everyday prices to everybody.

Basa, was produced in Rueda, north-western Spain, from local Verdejo and Viura grapes, in what Peter Rollinson described as a beautiful but barren landscape.Bray Valley described it as packed with crisp, clean flavours; members described it as very drinkable and could be enjoyed without food.This provides strong competition to a good Sauvignon Blanc.I wasn't the only one who loved it!BVW retail it at £8.49.

Muscadet once suffered at the bottom of the market but our second white was lovely, atypical of what many expect from this wine type and would be even better with food.Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie is a Loire wine.It was dry and full-flavoured but still delicate and would be good with fish and seafood.Made with Melon de Bourgogne grapes on vines aged between 15-30 years old, it retails at £8.69.

Chardonnay makes many groan and induces, often," I can't stand it. ABC: Anything But Chardonnay!" Peter produced another atypical wine, as it didn't smell oily, nor did it taste greasy, as many Australian and Californian Chardonnays can, but usually, their wines are heavily oaked; however, Montagny 1er Cru les Saint Morilles is a 2015 White Burgundy, pure Chardonnay and French. Part of its maturing process occurred in

oak barrels; the other was in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature, which made an obvious difference and many agreed that they would drink it again; however, it retails at £16.99, so it may not be considered as a daily tasting!

Our first red was Beaujolais.Domaine Romy produced the Vieilles Vignes Les Pierres Dorees.It was a light and fruity wine and light red in colour.It was a good example of a Beaujolais, grown on old vines, hence its name and was nicely aromatic, with a refreshing finish. It retails at £8.99.

Californian wine doesn't, usually, have a revered reputation, perhaps the Blossom Hill label has affected that, but in my opinion, and many others, our second red was the obvious winner of the reds' contest. Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Wente Vineyards' in California.At 2013, it was the oldest wine of the evening, but it wasn't the dearest! Its grapes come from the valley floor and southern hills of the Livermore Valley in California, located close to San Francisco Bay.Sunshine, warm sea breezes and gravelly alluvial soils make wine-making heaven. It was smooth, sweet and delicious, a big wine, perfect with a steak or other grilled red meats, and a great partner to your Christmas roast beef, perhaps!£12.99.

Another French product finished our evening, Chateau La Tour de By is a Medoc, 2014. This was the dearest red at £15.99 and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes. It is oak matured for 14 months and comes from a Cru Bourgeois estate and one of the leading Cru Bourgeois properties in the Medoc.It was Cabernet-dominated and packed with lively, spicy blackcurrant tastes and would work well with grilled and roasted meats or cheese, but, sorry, France, you've been beaten by a Californian on this occasion!

Our Christmas meeting is traditional: Committee's Choice.Six wines are presented by our six enthusiastic committee members.Presenting one only means that we all enjoy the festive food and fun.

January's Call My Wine Bluff, on the 17th, is another high point.Its hilarity is created by three, straight-faced committee members; however, they all present a plausible description for our six wines.Only one is correct, obviously!

The Wine Beer Supermarket, in Roscoff, Brittany, will make their first presentation to the Circle, although, it's a known wine outlet to many members. Unusually, this will be the fourth Wednesday of February, as the 28th is more convenient for WBS as transportation involves a ferry crossing.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator and Secretary

19



BERRYNARBOR HORTICULTURAL & CRAFT SHOW 2017

A Big Thank You to all who entered and supported the Show 2017 held on the 19th August in the Manor Hall.Without you there would not be a Show.

On the day, we covered our costs as well as raising just over £60 for next year. We also raised £47, which we will round up to £50, for the British Heart Foundation on the Charity Section, so a big thank you to those who made a mobile.

We'll soon be planning for next year, so if anyone has any ideas for next year's classes, then please let us know so we can consider them - we are always looking for new ideas.

This year's winners are as follows:

Floral Art The Globe Cup Sloley Farm

Home Cooking The Walls Cup Sloley All Stars

HandicraftsThe Davis Cup Mary Gingell

HandicraftsThe Watermouth Cup Steph Long

Grow Your Own Spud Kim Beaver

Widest Sunflower Sloley Farm

ArtThe George Hippisley Cup Wendy Applegate

Photography The Vi Kingdon Award Jim Constantine

Fruit & Vegetables The Derrick Kingdon Cup Tony Summers

Potted Plants The Lethaby Cup Karen Narborough

Cut Flowers Manor Stores Rose BowlRosie Arnold

 

Best Horticultural Exhibit - The Manor Hall Cup:Tony Summers

Best Non-horticultural Exhibit - Ray Ludlow Award:Jim Constantine

Best Exhibit on Show Theme - Watermouth Castle Cup:Mary Gingell

Children's Winners [Cumulative Totals]

Under 5 years - The Mayflower Dish

1stRoxanne Barrow 21 points 2nd Poppy Townsend

6-9 Years - The Wine Goblet

1st Salah Gingell17 points 2nd Ruby Barrow 15 points,

3rd = Rosie and May Townsend 10 points

10-13 Years - Men's Institute Cup

1st Holly Morrish 19 points2nd Jasmine Morris17 points

3rd Ruby Reynolds8 points

 

The Organising Group would like to congratulate all the winners, thank everyone who took part or helped run the event in any way.

 

On behalf of those who entered and everyone who came to the Show in the afternoon, a big thank you to Karen and the Organising Group for all their hard work in achieving another first-class show - well done!

9



BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'And wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic and the serious smile,'

Homer, The Odyssey

Some of you will know that although we are only a smallish Devon village, Berrynarbor Wine Circle, BWC, was founded in 1988 and is still going strong. I sense a future celebration ahead! Our new season starts on Wednesday, 18th October and runs to 16th May 2018, so next year's programme will include some additional merriment!

For those of you new to this village, we meet every third Wednesday of the month, but our Christmas event is always on the second Wednesday. Our venue is the Manor Hall and our start time is 8.00 p.m.

We are a happy 'band of travellers', as we sample six wines at every meeting, from far flung points of the globe:the Americas, Europe or Australasia, all for a ridiculously cheap annual registration fee of £5.00 per year, plus the monthly admittance sum of £7.00 per person.In addition to the wines, you can soak up your alcohol intake with bread and cheese and be surrounded by familiar faces or unfamiliar, and, have a great time!What more could you ask for on a Wednesday evening?

Currently, our programme looks like the following:

         Karen Loftus and Vicki Elden, from our wonderful village shop, present a cheese and wine selection on October 18th.

         Our 1st professional of this season: Peter Rollinson from Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, will be with us on November 15th.This company has a superb selection.

         December [13th] is always Committee's Choice. Our six committee members present their choice for your benefit and pleasure. Members supply a superb spread, usually a three-course meal.

         Call My Wine Bluff based on the BBC programme Call My Bluff is our usual topic for our January [17th] tastings. Three committee members present six wines and we have to guess who is telling the truth!

         February, March and April are still under discussion; however, a well-known Roscoff, Brittany, wine supermarket is interested in presenting wines from their vast selection during this period. A convenient date for their ferry travel is awaited.

         Nigel Pound, of Totnes Wines makes a very popular re-appearance for our May event.

We believe we have compiled an enjoyable programme for the masses!Our village hall is a great space, so, on behalf of BWC, I look forward to seeing friends, after a 'summer recess', and greeting many new ones.

Judith Adam

Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

In March, quite by chance I heard a Wine Talk one Saturday morning on Radio Devon and the presenter said he regularly did presentations to clubs, groups, W.I's, etc. to spread his love of wine. I therefore got in touch to invite him to do a presentation for us, which he kindly accepted. He could not do our normal meeting date of 19th April but could manage 26th. To say I twisted his arm off could be an understatement!

Nigel Pound is the boss of Totnes Wines, a true independent wine merchant, and has been in the wine trade for over 30 years. His presentation was entitled A Few of My Current Favourites, and one could easily see, or taste, why they were favourites;they were excellent!

He brought us seven wines to sample, one more than we usually have and gave a detailed description of each with many amusing anecdotes and tales associated with them.

The wines were a sparkling wine from Saumur made by the Champagne Method, not white wine injected with carbon dioxide the way that Prosecco is. An Albarino from Galicia; an Italian white from the Veneto area and a white Burgundy from Macon. The red wines were a typical Bordeaux claret but from the Graves area south of Bordeaux rather than the more usual Medoc; Biberius Roble from Ribero del Duero and a merlot called Paisaje de Tupungato from Mendoza in Argentina.

The favourites on the night for those I spoke to seemed to be the Albarino of the white wines and the Ribero del Duero of the reds but of course individuals may have had their own, different preferences.

To listen to someone who is an expert in his trade is always interesting and informative and Nigel certainly was. One of the main bits of knowledge to come from the evening was that if you tend to have a headache after drinking wine, particularly red wine, it is probably not a hang over, but from the sulphites that are added to preserve the wine. This is particularly true of New World wines, as sulphur has to be added at virtually every stage because of the climate and then the vast distances it has to travel to get to us. Incidentally, it doesn't travel already bottled, in most cases it comes in a container lined with an enormous plastic bag then bottled in Europe, requiring yet more sulphur! The moral of the story is, if you want to avoid headaches, only buy wine that was bottled on the estate. Also, NEVER buy what is called British Wine. This is the commercial equivalent of the DIY home brew wine kits of the 60's and 70's. It is grape concentrate from virtually anywhere in Europe that is then fermented in the UK and bottled. Do not confuse it though with English wine which is proper wine, grown and produced in England that can be superb but usually expensive.

Although 15 of our regulars were unable to attend, 50 people did and all had an excellent social evening with many newcomers asking for details of how to become regular members and even the presenter saying he would love to come again. What a successful evening!

Tony Summers - Chairman

 

'Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart.' Ecclesiastes 9:7

May seems to appear in print a lot currently, but May for us means the end of yet another season!We began our meeting with our AGM, which our Chairman, Tony Summers, managed to complete in record time, literally, 3 minutes 15 seconds! Formal proceedings complete, we were now able to taste his Wine and Food Pairings.Tony used Majestic's for the wine and decided to see what Berry Brothers & Rudd would suggest for pairings.

We began with a dry sherry: La Gitana, a Spanish Manzanilla. This was matched with roasted and lightly salted almonds and marinated anchovies - delicious all round!We followed this with a Muscadet Sevre et Maine, 2015: a great summer-drinking option and good with bi-valves, pan-roasted chicken, cheeses, fondue. Our third white was another Spaniard: Albarino Caixas perfect with seafood, light dishes or as an aperitif.We sampled it with a chicken pate - a delightful match.

Reds followed:Parilla 2014, by Vinalba of Argentina is a Malbec, a perfect match with steak or grilled sausages.Santa Rita Medalla Real is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley in Chile and great with a soft creamy goat's cheese. This combination was suggested by a Majestic's staff member and it worked very well!Our final May tasting was a Cote du Rhone Village, 2014: Les Hautes Vignes Cairanne, great with Tony's barbequed and seasoned sausages.

The results were a resounding success.There were no favourites as all wines were enjoyed by most! The wines were between £7.99 and £11.99 per bottle, the latter achieved as a reduction due to their Mix 6 offer.

Holidays are on the horizon and, therefore, we resume in October: Wednesday 18th, at the Manor Hall, to be precise.New Berrynarborians will receive a warm welcome and a drink!

Judith Adam - Secretary and Programme Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?'

Cardinal Richelieu

Wine presentations can be easy, sometimes! If professionals are giving them, then we can all sit back and enjoy them; however, there are occasions when members feel that they should or could stand before the Circle.

Geoff and I elected to do February's event because we had done a Danube and Rhine cruise in 2016 that provided some spectacular and particular views. We sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam passing through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Holland.

En route, from our floating hotel, vineyards became part of beautiful Austrian scenery and continued throughout and into Germany. We realised that every available space was given over to wine - if the soil and the aspect were appropriate. A few vineyards are flat, but others were incredibly steep and, therefore, everything regarding viticulture was carried out by hand: planting, managing the vines, watering and picking. It's hardly surprising that wine prices can also be steep!

Along the Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, vineyards vied for space with captivating castles and palatial 'piles'! From the bottom of the ancient and charming town of Rudesheim am Rhein, a cable car took us up to see Germania, an impressive and famous statute, but the vines came up with us! These were impressive too!

Our holiday route was memorable, not least because of the numerous and almost vertical vineyards! These gave me the idea for our BWC presentation. With Internet assistance, we managed, after many searching hours, to buy Hungarian, Slovakian, Austrian and Germanic wines. An almost-unanimous vote gave our first white top marks along with the same for our second red.

Berry Brothers & Rudd supplied our first winner: the 2013 Frittmann, Cserszegi Fuszeres. BBR say that it would be more popular if it had a more pronounceable name. I agree! This Hungarian white is the result of crossing the local Irsai Oliver with Gewurtztraminer and made into dry and off-dry styles. It's 12% and was £10.95. It was good, but then BBR have been in wine since 1698, have two Royal Warrants and seven Masters of Wine.

Our second red was a 2014 Anselmann Dornfelder Trocken, but it was only £8.60. If there had been a blind tasting, it would have fooled many into thinking it was South American or Australian instead of German; it was a rich, full-bodied red, even though it was a single grape variety, Dornfelder, and it was 14%. The Anselmanns have been associated with viticulture for more than 400 years; among numerous accolades they were chosen to supply the German team for the Rio Olympics.

'Wine gives strength to weary men.' Homer

The evening was billed as The Old Bills & Virgin Wines because two retired policemen had offered to present Virgin Wines. The wines were described and, unusually, we also heard about the presenters' past: stories from their experiences within the Met and Birmingham constabulary.

Our first white was South African and, in many people's opinion, was the best white. Perdeberg Winery Vineyard Collection Chenin Blanc Muscat, 2015 was different. It had all the floral, grapey loveliness of Muscat, jazzing up the brilliant freshness and body of Chenin Blanc. It was 13% and described as the most quaffable, not a cheap grape mix at £11.99.

In between wine descriptions given by John Hood, Bill Scholes, once of the Met, regaled stories of his early policing duties around the Kings Cross area. He joined in 1964 when this famous district was decidedly unsafe and undesirable. At the time, his equipment was a wooden truncheon and a whistle, to 'phone in, they had to find a telephone box.

After a night shift, he visited a shop to collect his breakfast; it only sold fresh eggs and bacon. To convey it back to the police canteen to be cooked, the bacon was placed on his head, the eggs were perched on the bacon and it sat under his helmet! To keep these safe, he would walk as if he was on a catwalk at a finishing school!

After we'd had a 2015 white Rioja, voted as thin, and a 2016 Australian Chardonnay that was lighter oak than normal, the reds arrived. Usually, I enjoy a Shiraz, but I didn't; however, the Zeitgeist 2015, 13.5%, from the Languedoc, was soft, smooth, delicious and £19.99 a bottle! La Traversee estate is a sensation in France, but doesn't export a great deal. It will improve for 10 years and beyond.

We finished with an Italian Fazzoletto Barbera Passito 2015. Virgin Wines sold 9,000 bottles in four days, but many thought that the Zeitgeist beat it, hands down.

This season continues with April's event a week later than norm: 26th April. Our host will be Nigel Pound of Totnes Wines and Radio Devon. May's is our AGM followed by a wine and food-match evening with

Tony Summers.

Judith Adam - Secretary and Programme

24



BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect Robert Louis Stephenson

December is synonymous with drinking and eating, and, therefore, I suspect that none of us felt guilty imbibing and consuming our Committee's Choice for wines and Members' Choice for a superb banquet. We do it every time!

Two wines presented at Members' Choice in November to 10 of us were SO successful that these were served to the masses. Bray Valley and our wonderful village shop supplied the goods on both occasions.

Sauvignon Blanc seems to be extremely popular with white wine drinkers; many expect it to come from Marlborough, New Zealand. Bray Valley produced a real find and a delicious alternative to expectations: a Pinot Gris from The Crossings Vineyard in Marlborough. It's a shame it's a bit dearer than 'Sav Blanc', but it's worth it. If it's in stock, you'll pay £9.99.

The second was the South African Running Duck Pinotage, from the shop's shelves; it's £7.98. As its name is unusual, it appears to be memorable because its fame has spread beyond our Circle! A shopper, not a Circle member, was overheard asking for a red wine: ". . something about a duck . . . I've read about it in the Newsletter." Who needs to drive anywhere when you can trot to the shop for a liquid Duck - red or white!

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.

St Thomas Aquinas

Wine Circle members know that January means Call My Wine Bluff: it's a fun evening. None of us are wine buffs, but we all try to use what knowledge we have to work our way through the True and False

descriptions. Tony quoted Eric Morecambe's famous lines of 'All the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order'; Eric applied these musically but it works on Wine Bluff nights too!

Three whites, three reds were tasted, from France, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Italy. The High Street supplied in the forms of Lidl's and Marks & Spencer. Tasting, prior to the evening, had not happened, so we were all sampling these for the first time, including our presenter trio.

One wine created a resounding and unanimous response, with disapproving grimaces all round. I have tasted acceptable wine from Lidl's; however, I wouldn't say it is a renowned stockist, and I'm afraid I was totally convinced that Tony had bought the Vino Nuevo de Tinaja sold as Fresquito from LIdl's. I was wrong! It was from M & S! What possessed their buyer to include this?

Tony's script said that it was a 'most unusual white wine' because it is made 'from Pedro Ximenez grapes.' These are usually associated with a deep, chocolaty, ultra-sweet sherry, often called the Christmas Pudding wine, which is absolutely delicious, particularly poured over ice-cream - fantastic stuff, but not this one!

Thirty-six members uttered a loud, "No," when he asked if we liked it. On her first smell, one lady said it smelled of old carpets! Another thought we had said 'armpits', which triggered another negative of, "Yes, that too!" Never tasted a wine like it . . . hope I don't again, but, as another saying goes, you live and learn!

Judith Adam - Secretary and Programme Co-ordinator

13



BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'When a man drinks wine at dinner, he begins to be better

pleased with himself.' Plato

Bray Valley Wines [BVW] is a privately-owned wine importer in South Molton, run by Charlie Cotton and Peter Rollinson; they are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Peter presented six wines that were recent stock.

Apart from the Chardonnay, a grape and white wine that many dislike, the general consensus was that the other five were either lovely or very good. If a red-wine drinker states that they think a white wine is lovely, it must be! Their Dourthe No 1 Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 from Bordeaux is £8.99.

A Galician vineyard in Spain produced our Albarino, Pazos de Lusco, Rias-Baixas, 2015. BVW retail it for £11.99, probably a bit more than you'd pay for your daily quaff, but it would be good as part of a social event. All Peter's reds were delicious in my opinion, but my white-wine drinking husband thought they were too! Valpolicella Ripasso, Classico Superiore, Cantina di Negrar, 2014, was our first and cheapest red, at £10.99. Our next, was a 2010 Graves, our dearest wine of the evening at £19.99. It was intensely fruity and would be a superb accompaniment to any red-meat dish.

We finished with a brown-red, smooth, fruity Gigondas Cuvee les Pigie, Domaine Font Sarade 2013, from the southern Rhone. It was £17.99, not cheap, but it could be regarded as a delicious investment, if you can manage to keep it in your wine-rack!

'One not only drinks the wine, one smells it, observes it,

tastes it, sips it and - one talks about it.' King Edward VII

Geoff and I joined the Circle in October 2007 and haven't encountered a Members' Choices evening before, so we were intrigued! Six couples, per table, provided and presented a bottle of wine, continuing our usual six tastings per person. Three people presented their choices at any one time, but three tables of members added atmosphere and plenty of additional vocal noise!

Suppliers for our wines were the new Asda's in Barnstaple, Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, Majestic and Sainsbury's in Barnstaple and our village shop. We began with a 100% Pinot Gris, from New Zealand, at £9.99, chosen by the ever-knowledgeable Peter, from Bray Valley.

Tony's Muscadet, Chateau La Bidiere, is from the Loire, via Asda's. It was a good buy at £5.99 only.

Matching wine with food is beneficial as some wines appear to improve with an appropriate partner. Gewurtztraminer, a pink-skinned grape variety, is quintessentially Alsatian, eastern France, and complements spicy or exotic food. It was £8.00.

Kath provided a Chianti Reserva, a young Sangiovese, made by the Piccini family, wine producers in Tuscany since 1882, from Sainsbury's at £8.50.

We are fortunate in this village to have a shop; we are also fortunate as it stocks drinkable and reasonably-priced wine rather than wine for the pot only! Their Running Duck Pinotage, £7.98, was a great choice. It is, according to Debbie, very popular with the young mum's in the village, because the lack of sulphites means a lack of hangovers! As a red-wine drinker, I'm glad it was included; others were impressed with it too.

Californian Zinfandel, probably, doesn't have the best reputation in the world, but, perhaps it's one of those 'Marmite moments'! Having sampled Phil's Choice from Majestic says that it would be good 'by itself, with flavourful duck dishes or a cheese platter.' I think it would be good with any red-meat dish as well. Currently, it could be yours for £7.99 a bottle, instead of £11.99.

Our wines proved that gone are the days when you could produce a fiver to buy a respectable bottle of wine, and get change, but nothing stays the same. They also proved that you don't have to spend a fortune to taste an acceptable glass of wine either.

Judith Adam

Future Meetings

18th January:Call My Wine Bluff

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.'

Benjamin Franklin

Unusually, our seasonal programme isn't finalised yet; however, I can tell you that we begin on Wednesday, 19th October, with Peter Rollinson of Bray Valley Wines, South Molton. Bray Valley began in 2002 with Charlie Cotton recognising that only the supermarkets could provide his daily drinking wines. Their wines, 80-100 types, are shipped in and known to him as they have all been tasted at some point. Peter jumped at the opportunity to join the business in 2005. When I mentioned 'livers', he replied, "I probably don't have one!"

November is 'up for grabs', but December, is our pre-Christmas event and will be our usual Committee's Choice. Wednesday, 14th January 2017, our first meeting of another new year, is on the 18th and will be our ever-popular Call My Wine Bluff. One of our members said that she wished we could do this every month! I know it takes hours of preparation by Tony Summers, our Chairman, so I know it won't happen, but we like to provide a varied programme too.

Our season begins in October and runs until May. Tastings are always the third Wednesday of every month, apart from December's, which is the second Wednesday. The monthly fee, per person, has been £6 since 2008; this covers the bills for our food and drink and Hall fees. As we all know, all prices rise; so, as from October, per-person fees will be a very reasonable £7.

We don't charge for conviviality! Our monthly tastings are a great way to meet others from the village who may not be your neighbours. We look forward to seeing new faces; the Hall has plenty of space, but our enjoyment often fills it!

Judith Adam - Secretary and Programme Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'If food is the body of good living, wine is its soul.'

Clifton Fadiman [US Essayist etc.]

An AGM is the annual starting point, always, for our May meetings. Tony Summers, in typical Chairman fashion, kept to tradition, made it brief and managed to conclude in 5-6 minutes: all matters addressed.

Portuguese wines are difficult to locate; unusual in supermarkets!One of their products, though, bears the claim to fame that it broke Majestic's website recently!This and Laithwaites supplied our six wines.

Wine is produced throughout Portugal: 27 regions, all DOC.During Dr. Salazar's government, growers' grapes were only sold to co-operatives and private growers were excluded.EU membership has changed this and private firms can own and sell where they please.

Vinho Verde is a well-known Portuguese region. Our Aluado Alvarinho 2014, grew in the Lisbon area and was £8.99. It was a light and refreshing dry white.Oz Clarke describes the Alvarinho grape as fresh with an acid minerality to match grapefruit and apple blossom scent.It smelled of lemons and peaches . . . great for summer sipping or serving with light-tasting food: seafood or salads

Our next two were Porrais Reserva 2013, a white from the Douro region and our dearest at £11.99.It had spicy peach and zingy lemon curd flavours . . . good with fish.An Albarrada Rosado 2014: deep pink, rich, dry and fruity, £7.99, was grown in the Alentejo region and touches, partially, the Spanish border.

Winegrower, Jose Neiva Correia, was dubbed 'aluado': 'moon crazy', because he dared to use the Alicante Bouschet grape in pure form; usually, it is added to the country's top reds.It became a triple gold medal triumph, grown at his 12th century Quinta de Porta Franco estate, thought to be the oldest vineyard in Alenquer, the region surrounding Lisbon.Its colour was deep, black red and had an intense, and savoury aroma, best served with roasts.His Aluado Alicante Bouschet 2014 was £8.99.

FOZ Touriga Nacional 2013 won Decanter Trophy for Best regional Portuguese red under £15 and a 'must try!' It's £9.99 and originates from the region, a mountainous area, located between the river and the Serra da Estrela.This mid ruby red would be luscious with lamb.

TV chef and Yorkshire lad, James Martin, of BBC'sSaturday Kitchen claimed that the Porta 6, grown in the Alenquer and Cadaval regions, north of Lisbon, a blend of three grapes, was 'one of the nicest reds I've tasted in 10 years on this show!'As a result, Majestic sold many thousand' of bottles and the quest crashed their website! It has another claim to fame - its label!

This colourful, crazy cartoon portrays a historic tram that runs around Lisbon's streets, designed by a slightly eccentric German artist, Hanke Vagt; his creations were sold to locals and tourists.Antonio Mendes Lopez went to great trouble to find him and gain permission to use it as an eye-catching label for a very popular red! Currently, it's £7.99 for a Mix 6.

Wine Circle summer trips continue;in the past, we've visited Eastcott and Yearlstone Vineyards.We took a different view in July, as we headed for Tapeley Park, Instow, for picnics, with wine of course! House tours are given by Tapeley's owner, Hector Christie, but only for groups of between 20 and 30.We lunched on the sheltered Italian Terraces, beneath his impressive 'pile' and were treated to blue skies and glorious summer sunshine.

We were able to see parts of the internal grandeur of his home, a property that has been in the family for 300 years, since the time of Queen Anne (1702-1714). The Clevlands were its owners, but in 1855, one of their daughters, Agnes Clevland, married William Langham Christie.

Hector, eldest son of Sir George and Lady Mary Christie, is a 'character', cares passionately about varied matters, including the exclusion of GM foods from our shops and believes that he is only a caretaker of Tapeley; he is caring for its contents.His home is cold, deliberately; the lack of heating and drawn curtains may seem odd, but this has protected Britain's second-largest collection of William Morris furniture.It looked like the day it was made - not a crack in sight!The cabinets' beautiful inlays were perfect and are magnificent examples by this 19th century multi-talented master. The gold and silver inlaid piano was breathtaking -a baby grand, with an amazing sound.There are some stunning ceilings and equally stunning porcelain: Minton and all exquisite works of English and European artistic heritage.

Gather a score together, take a picnic, head for Tapeley Park and enjoy the views from the house across to Bideford.Sit in the Italian gardens, take pleasure in your food, wine and friends and you'll gain a privileged view inside this splendid local, privately-owned North Devon home.


 

Judith Adam

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect.'Robert Louis Stevenson

We were grateful to taste only 'A Few of my Favourite Things' from Brett Stephens, as recently he had been to a corporate wine tasting, where800 'things' were on offer! Six is quite enough thank you!

His employer, Hallgarten Druitt, is one of the historic names of the UK wine trade, importing wines from family-run producers for over 80 years. Novum joined HD in 2010.

Cava, not Prosecco, was Brett's initial offering.Spanish bubbles is mainly from Catalonia; he believes that £ for £ it is much better than Prosecco, as it's made the same way as champagne.He popped the cork quietly and uttered that this should be 'no louder than a nun's fart'! Our Cava Brut Seleccion had fine bubbles.+&+ is an unusual name, but points towards its calibre; there were many mmm's from the Hall.It's from Barcelona and was £9.26 + VAT, or £11.11.

Cyprus is not renowned for its wine, but maybe in the future - Petritis, 2014, a dry white wine crafted from the indigenous variet, Xynisteri, grown in the Troodos Mountains.It had partial ageing in oak barrels and was fresh and aromatic. At £12 including VAT, many thought that it was good.

The third white caused lively reactions and it wasn't the £20 price tag.Gewurtztraminer is a Germanic grape synonymous with Alsace wines. Ours was from the Alto Adige, Italy. A web site review described the Nussbaumer, 2014 as juicy and thirst quenching.Many said it was highly aromatic, smelled of roses' and tasted of Turkish Delight!One lady member said it tasted like pot pourri and didn't feel that you should be drinking it! Yet others have sourced it via the net and bought some as it was their favourite!

The reds were cheaper and not so controversial! Gran Reserva, Echeverria, a Pinot Noir 2013 from the Casablanca Valley, Chile. The label described it as 'Rich and elegant (with) aromas of strawberries, black cherries (and) raspberries'. Dark rose in colour, some described it as pale and deceptive for a red but very nice; others thought it was thin and tasteless.It was £10 + VAT.

Comte de Senejac a Haut-Medoc, 2011 bore an unfamiliar Gold award label. Each year in Beaune, France., more than 600 tasters worldwide attend the Feminalise Wine Tasting Competition. Founder, Didier Martin, with 25-years' experience, made a simple observation: 'The economical impact of women in the wine industry'.The competition began in 2007 and went global in 2015.Last year there were 3655 wines.Tasters numbered 688: all experts and professionals working in the wine industry or seasoned oenophiles.The Medoc, aged in oak barrels was good and £14 ex VAT.

Petit Verdot from the Maipo Valley, Chile, produced Chaski. It was dark, heavy, but it was 14.5%. Grown between Valparaiso and the foothills of this famous mountain range, the alluvial soils produced a complex wine with notes of red fruits, herbs, and spices;well structured, nicely balanced with soft tannins too.We thought it was good, but it was £20 ex VAT. A good act, but not cheap, but Brett's 'Things' wouldn't be!

'Never did a great man hate good wine.' Francois Rabelais

Graham, Jeremy and Phil presented our first Men's Night, in April.No showers just a good show.Four of the six wines came from Majestic's easy access; however, the stars didn't and were worth courier service!

Graham and Carol had eaten recently at an Ilfracombe restaurant.They sampled a soft-pressed grape wine.Hard-pressed grapes are the usual component for wines: grapes, stalks and possibly leaves are pressed with gusto. Soft-pressed means that only the grapes are picked and not squashed completely as a balloon, within the tank, coaxes out the juice and less tannin. Some experts believe that less tannins means less chance of RWH - Red Wine Headaches. Majestic, Sainsbury and M & S were contacted, but visiting Kent relations, a privately-owned Chiselhurst wine shop produced the soft-pressed goods.This white was an unusual mix of Sauvignon and Malvasia.The latter made it slightly sweeter than a straightforward Sauvignon. The 2014 Il Pumo, is an Italian wine from 'an Marzano in Puglia.It was £8.00 and would make an excellent aperitif or go well with fish.His red, a 2013 Primitivo, also from San Marzano caused a stir.Primitivo di Manduria was a smooth, silky red, 14% and £14.95; however, some of us liked it so much that an Italian supplier was contacted and Primitivo, imported from Puglia, is now in Berrynarbor at £8 per bottle, quantity pays!

Jeremy's white and red were an Australasian Sauvignon and a Pinot Noir.These are synonymous with Marlborough, their signature grapes from the wine-growing area of South Island, New Zealand and originate in the Wairau Valley. The white, 2014, Goldwater Vineyard was £9.An excellent Sauvignon, described by Majestic as rich yet fresh.Whereas, the single estate Pinot Noir, Ara, almost 4 years old, reflected the purity of area, comes from the selected sections of vineyard: Select Blocks. Majestic write that this is smooth, fruity and complex. It was £11.

France was the country of origin for Phil's white and red.The 2014 Domaine Saint Ferreol Viognier was barrel-fermented and came from near Montpelier, Languedoc.Majestic describes this as aromatic, rich yet fresh, but some think Viognier can taste greasy.It was £11.99 or £9.99 for a Mix 6. His red was also from the same region: a 2012 Domain de Fabregues, £10.99 for a Mix 6.A Grenache-Syrah mix, it has won a Wine Spectator award.

Our 2015-16 season ends on 18th May when as normal we shall have a brief but informative AGM, followed by Tony Summers with The Wines of Portugal.

Judith Adam

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

"Is your Englishman so expert in his drinking? " 

William Shakespeare, Othello.

Call My Wine Bluff is a favourite BWC evening based on the popular BBC game programme Call My Bluff, that ran, off and on, between 1965 and 2005.

Bob, Geoff and Tony told us our first was a Chenin Blanc, a Verdejo or a Pinot Grigio.  It was Tony's: a Spanish 100% Verdejo.    It had a pale straw colour . . . greenish tinges. . . citrus, tropical fruits . . . fennel and scrubland herbs.   Amazingly, Tony had bought this for £3.50 from Majestic; we didn't think this price was a UK possibility!

Our second turned out to be the South African Robertsons Sauvignon Blanc.  Our team were expert for this one, as it was a True!   It was full bodied with a lovely balanced acidity.   The third white didn't come from Portugal or Argentina, but did come from Languedoc; it was a Viognier.  I think this can be a little greasy - not a preference of mine.

Old World wines are European or Middle Eastern; they are structure driven and have more terroir: how . . . climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine . . . or . . . earthy notes.   Was our first red an American Zinfandel, Italian Primitivo or South African Pinotage?  It was a New World: Californian Old Vine Zinfande', grown on 100-year-old vines . . . with . . . softer tannins and a typical peppery finish.   

Wine 5 was our dearest at £19.99, but Majestically reduced to £13.22.   It could have been a Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra, between Adelaide and Melbourne.  It was inky black with deep red hues, but, it could be from Medoc: from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and . . . splash of Petit Verdot.   Apart from Rioja, Spain has another world renowned red-wine-producing area, the Ribero del Duero: the upper reaches of the Duero or Douro River.   Our wine came from Pesquera del Duero with a population of just 469, but its three-generation vineyard is prestigious and regularly receives 90+ points from the Wine Advocate magazine.

Finally, our options were from the Colchagua Valley in Chile, an Argentinian Malbec, or an Italian, Barolo, from the Nebbiolo grape.   The latter is known to be £££: Tony mentioned a Majestic's special offer; it had just crept into our budget.  This was a smoke screen as we sampled a Chilean Gran Reserva, made from the Carmenere grape.   Chilean wines bearing Gran Reserva means that it is their prestige wine, so on that flavoursome note, that's it for another year!

If a life of wine, women and song becomes too much, give up the singing.

Anonymous

Well, wine and women were the order of the day as February's meeting was Ladies' Night and I believe Alex Parke described Pam, Pip and I as the 'Old Brigade'; I think he was referring to our long-standing membership!

Pam started proceedings with a Spanish, 2014, Godello Caixes from Majestic.  The wine was 100% Godello, grown throughout north-west Spain.  This was used as a constituent, but has gained increasing recognition as a quality varietal in its own right.   Jamie Goode of the Sunday Express described this white as having pleasant focus with bright citrus and pear fruitiness, lots of flavour, but not heavy.   Many thought it was delicious.  It's still on offer: £6.99 instead of £7.99.  

Pip and I knew Pam was using Majestic; we used alternative importers, deliberately.   We 'travelled' to the Valle de Elqui in Chile, courtesy of Pip and Marks & Spencer and tasted a clean and fresh, 2014, PX.  The name didn't give much away; however, PX are the initials for the grape: Pedro Ximenez.  This was another 100% grape variety, but more commonly found in southern Spain, known, usually, for dark, sweet sherry or Australian sweet fortified wines.  The Wine Circle has tasted the dark and sweet, but, surprisingly, this was a dry white, similar to Sauvignon Blanc.  I heard 'delicious' and 'amazing', just £7 a bottle.  

Tohora Point, Marlborough and Sainsbury's are the names to conjure with for the last white.  This isn't similar to, it is a Sauvignon Blanc.   It was this grape, this wine that made the world take note of New Zealand. Sainsbury's description is enticing aromas of gooseberries, delicately fruity, stone fruit, pears, leading to a crisp. refreshing finish.  Many thought it was lovely.   Average price is £9.99:  I had paid £6.  

Portuguese wines are often ignored or forgotten; they shouldn't be.  Pam's Porta 6, was an award winner and sold 20,000 bottles one afternoon because TV Chef, James Martin, declared that 'it is one of the nicest reds I've tasted in 10 years on this show.'   Many of us agreed!   It was a grape mix: Tinta Roriz, or Tempranillo, Castelao  and Touriga Nacional and £7.49 instead of £8.99.  

Cotes du Rhone Villages wines are usually, synonymous with quality.  The best of these have their own appellation, including Vacqueyras, which achieved this status in 1990.  Our sample was 2014 and could be kept.  At the time of tasting the deal: £13 down to £10.40.  

In 1999, St Emilion was the first vineyard in the world listed as a world heritage site by UNESC', due to its outstanding example of a historic landscape that has survived intact and in activity to the present day'  Its wine is revered and can be very pricey; my 2013 was a Bronze award winner in 2015; it was agreed, generally, that it would be good with food.  Its £10 price label didn't shriek cheap!

Judith Adam

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life.'

Charles Dickens, Household Words.

November provided another first for us, a visit by Peter Rollinson from Bray Valley Wines [BVW], in South Molton. This is a two-man concern: Peter, and Charlie Cotton who started the business in 2002. Charlie has spent all his working life in the wine business and established BVW to provide quality, easy drinking wines, at affordable prices. Peter 'fell into wine', has been with them for 10 years and loves it. Both men believe that they should know their wines: over a period of time they have sampled every wine type in their stock!

We started with a Viognier from the Western Cape, South Africa, 2014 and 13.5%. Some described it as sweet and viscose; it was only £6.99. The next two whites were French. The Pouilly-Fume, 2013, 12.5%, from the Loire, was dry, full of fruit, with a flinty freshness and £11.99. Our last was a Pouilly-Fuisse, a white Burgundy, 2012, 13% and the dearest of the evening at £17.49. It wasn't my cup of tea as it was made from the Chardonnay grape . . . which just goes to prove that if your palate decides no, then the price is of no consequence!

Our first red was a Spanish Rioja Crianza, 2012, 13.5% and £9.99. It had a spicy feel and spends 12 months in oak barrels. The next, a Cabernet Franc, also 2012, from Mendoza, Argentina, was chocolatey and 14%; it was £12.99. Our last wine of the evening was a Crozes-Hermitage from the northern Rhone, with the Syrah grape. Peter thought this was delicious. It was £14.99.

December's tastings are chosen by our six committee members as it's our Food with Wine evening. Our Chairman, Tony Summers, had won a bottle of pink 'bubbles' for a short quiz set by Peter Rollinson, in November; Geoff Adam, felt that we should all know what this was like, so we began with some festive fizz: the said 'pink bubbles'.

This wasn't Champagne, but it was a Cremant de Loire, produced by the Langlois Chateau, managed by the Bollinger family, so we knew it would be good. It was and it is, because you can still buy this from BVW. Currently there is a deal: seven for the price of six, which means you can have a £10.99 wine for £9.42. It has a freshness, fine bubbles . . . with beautiful summer flavours. It's 12.5%, from the best terroirs of the Saumur area . . . made entirely from Cabernet-Franc and well-worth a drive to South Molton!

John Hood had contacted Avery's of Bristol for his Spanish white, from Rueda. It was a dry Verdejo, a Palacia de Pimente', 2014. It was 13% and £8.99. He didn't give us many other details, just said we should drink it . . . so we did!

I presented a Portuguese red: a 2013 Azamore from the DOP Alentejo region. These reds are described as easy drinkers, rich and fruity . . . popular all over Portugal. It was popular in Berrynarbor too! It was £10.49 and another BVW purchase.

An Argentinian, 2015, Malbec, from Mendoza, Argentina, followed: a Fairtrade red, 13% and £6.99 only. Our Treasurer, Bob Hobson, was proud to note that it was the cheapest of the evening! Majestic described it as a powerful red. It was like many other Malbecs: smooth, robust and fruity.

Majestic's currently have Chateauneuf-de-Pape between £25 and £60 per bottle; however, John Thorndycroft noticed a pre-Christmas deal and purchased ours for £9.99 instead of £19.99; it was a Reserves de Capouiers, 2014 and 14%. This revered red, probably the most famous Southern Rhone appellation is always a grape mix. It's another robust red and Mrs T thought it was very nice.

Our final tasting had legs . . . as it had travelled, literally, all the way from Spain, and arrived at Mr Summers' doorstep only 5 hours before it needed to be at the Manor Hall! An Amazon purchase, it was sourced and couriered from Cordoba, Spain. This dessert red is like a very sweet sherry only much better! This Pedro Ximenez1927 oxidises as it is maturing and made from the solera system: a mix taken from several barrels, started for this particular wine, in 1927. Amazingly, Tony purchased this, including the courier charge at the time, for approximately £11 per bottle.

The February meeting on the 17th is Ladies' Night, followed by Brett Stevens of Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines on the 16th March.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Age is . . . totally irrelevant unless, of course,

you happen to be a bottle of wine.' Joan Collins

Italian wines, presented professionally, has never been done before, so a first for everybody. Paul Firman from Majestic, Exeter's 'Wine Guru', delivered some marvellous wines.

My preference is for red, for most of the time; however, there are occasions when white is wonderful: a chilled glass on a summer's day or served with a delicate dish such as fish. Paul's white choices were a surprise and delight.

The first, a Prosecco, was from their new Definition range: their first ever own label range of wines . . . with a little help from some of the world's greatest winemakers. Prosecco has become extremely popular recently, sales have increased by 400%! It is usually cheaper than another bubbly champagne, but it can be very gassy.

Majestic decided that their perfect' Prosecco had to be dry, it must have tiny frothy bubbles, and it must taste great with the trickiest of food matches, Prosciutto. It had approval from many of us, probably the nicest Prosecco I've ever tasted. Produced in the best Valdobbiadene vineyards near Venice, it was 11% and bears the DOCG, quality label. For a Mix 6, it was £9.74, but it could be £12.99.

Next was a Stella Alpina Pinot Grigio, 2014, Alto Adige. It amazed and fooled many; it was so fruity. Majestic describe it as 'in a different league to entry-level Italian Pinot Grigio, balancing a rich, pure palate of peach, melon and pear fruit with the crispest of finishes'. I couldn't describe it any better! It was 13% and should be £12.99, but there is a deal to be had. You could buy it for £9.74 if you buy a mix 6.

Lastly, a Soave Classico 2014 Inama. Classico is a good sign and this Soave comes from hand harvested Garganega grapes. This isn't an oaked wine but it is from the best slopes in the region of northern Italy and 12%. Again, Majestic's description was apt: 'Generous acidity and a rich texture enforce the elegant finish'. Another Mix 6 deal: £10.98, but it should be £14.65.

Our reds were a Barolo, Brunello and a Montepulciano. We started with the Montepuliciano, the driest, as it should be, but also the cheapest at £9.74 for a Mix 6, should be £12.99. Its production area, Abruzzo provides the demarcation point of southern Italy. Bright ruby, it was the youngest of our reds: 2013 and 13%.

Next was the Barolo Araldica, 2011 with the Nebbiolo grape. The Araldica is a Piedmont co-operative in north-western Italy. This was 14%, but £12.74 as a Mix 6, with a full price of £16.99. It would be great with a grilled steak or strong hard cheese. It had a lovely ruby colour with a long and complex finish.

The Brunello di Montalcino was a 2009. This could be enjoyed over the next 5 to 10 years. Age means care means £££; this could be £22.49 or £30 for a full bodied wine grown on a family-owned vineyard in Tuscany. It too was 14% and delicious with seasoned lamb, braised red cabbage and red wine sauce, Mm mm!

Our Pre-Christmas do is Committee's Choice of wines with members' food, will be December 9th. Our first meeting of 2016 on the 20th January will be the ever-popular Call My Wine Bluff.

Judith Adam

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Berrynarbor Wine Circle summer trips have been occurring off and on for many years. Recently, we have had a wine tasting by Majestic at Arlington Court, visited Eastcott Vineyard, near Holsworthy, had a wine tasting at Majestic's of Barnstaple and in July this year, we visited Yearlstone Vineyard, near Bickleigh. They have been well-supported and enjoyed by all.

Yearlstone Vineyard was described by one member as the 'prettiest location we've been to'; I'm assuming that's as a BWC visitor! It has, certainly, a stunning location with wonderful views of the Exe Valley, but then, ideally, vineyards should be on free-draining soil and south-facing slopes in order that grapes can ripen well in sunshine, and they do. Their winery is one of the best equipped in England; their bottling machine was fast, efficient and fascinating to watch!

Owners, Roger and Juliet White arrived at this vineyard in 1994. When they arrived, some of the vines were more than 30 years old and, therefore, grape production was poor. They have removed and replaced vines to ensure that they can produce award-winning wines. Juliet, previously a Kitchen Designer, undertook a viticultural course at Plumpton College in Sussex: England's only wine college. They grow a variety of grapes and produce six types of Cool Climate wines, including a refreshingly dry rose and Vintage Brut: Yearlstone's fizz.

Yearlstone do group tastings in the evenings; we followed their very friendly, informative tour and tastings with an evening meal here too. Unfortunately, it was a cool evening, so we had to eat inside their cafe; their spacious terrace overlooks their superb views. I had their Spanish style king prawns with garlic, wine and sherry, with salad. They were absolutely delicious - I could have drunk a bowl of the sauce! Their desserts change regularly, but I had their lemon and pine nut torte, which was good. All food is made by their Chef, Tim Harris, initiator of Crediton's Food Festival.

The vineyard and cafe are open to the public for tastings and lunches between 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. on Wednesdays to and including Sundays, in spring and summer. They are well worth a visit.

Judith Adam

The 2015/2016 Wine Circle season begins on Wednesday, 21st October. The programme up to Christmas is as follows:

Wednesday October 21st: Jack Hicks of Majestic Wines Barnstaple - The Variety of Italy

Wednesday November 18th: Peter Rollinson of Bray Valley Wines, South Molton  

Wednesday December 9th: The Wine Circle Christmas Food & Drink Evening. Maximum of 60 people so tickets and food contributions must be arranged at the latest by the November meeting.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

"Wine is inspiring and adds greatly to the

joy of living."

Napoleon Bonaparte

I'll drink to that! Seriously, wine tasting, for the Circle as a group, ceased in May. However, I suspect that our members have managed to raise a glass or two since then, as summer seems to be a season of socialising! Our end-of-season meeting always begins with the AGM, once over a presentation was made to our Treasurer: Jill McCrae. A lovely lady and one with staying power - she has been in charge of the money since 1993!

We were fortunate to have a professional with us for our last evening of the 2014-15 season. Brett Stephens represents Hallgarten Druitt & Novum wines. Their website describes who they are: Hallgarten Druitt is a historic name in UK wine, importing wines from family-run producers for over 80 years. Novum has been hand picking wines for the . . . London on-trade since 2004.

Brett's topic was Emerging Regions and we were treated to an international variety: proving that the net has introduced, truly, a World-Wide-Web of producers for us all. Our wines were Croatian, Greek, Indian and Spanish. Produce from the latter may be seen on shop shelves, but currently, the others are not regular stock. It was interesting to taste a dry white wine all the way from West Istria and to sample an award-winning Dindori Reserve Shiraz, produced in the Sula Vineyards, 180km from Mumbai! Both of these wines were £10.

The 2015-16 season starts on Wednesday October 21st and runs until May 2016. As this goes to print, I am fairly certain that we shall taste Italian wines, courtesy of Majestic, presented by their new Manager,

Jack Hicks. He took a business trip to Italy earlier this year, so I'm sure we shall be given a sextet with character, delivered by a young and enthusiastic professional.

We meet at the Manor Hall at 8.00 p.m. If you like your wine, do join us. If you are a non-wine drinking partner, do come along too, there is no monthly fee for you, but you can still enjoy the camaraderie and perhaps meet some more Berrynarborians!

Judith Adam

Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Wine is life.' - Petronius

Domaine GOURDON is a vineyard owned by Jonathan Coulthard since 2003. An ex-pat, he lives and works in Esclottes, near the beautiful medieval town of Duras in South West France.

We have been fortunate to hear from him on several occasions - he is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic gent. In the past he has presented his own wines, but on another occasion we tested and tasted his competitors' wines, which were also excellent.

April's meeting was a generous sampling of his produce only, which he had called Vertical and Horizontal Tasting! He's remembered, obviously, how most of us react to having more than our usual six tastings! Unusually, for our meetings, all five whites were Sauvignon Blanc but the grape mix was different, the vines were young or old, or their ageing process was diverse and they made interesting and informative comparisons. The 2013, 70% sauvignon and 30% muscadelle suited my palate best; it was fresh and had a gentle acidity.

We moved on to his Rose circa 2014: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. It was pale, crisp and refreshing. The two reds were a mix of Merlot, Cab Sav and Cabernet Franc grapes, but percentages differed. Twelve bottles were either: £92, £93.50 or £102.00 for whites, rose or red.

May's meeting begins with our AGM, which is brief but essential. Our final presenter is Brett Stephens of Hallgarten Druitt Wines, with Emerging Regions. Their website includes management statements, such as: 'geographical boundaries are no issue' and 'importing wines from family-run producers for over 80 years.' A gastro-pub chain owner, London-based, believes they are the 'best wine merchants I've come across'. It sounds as if we shall all be treated to an international and tasty education!

Judith Adam - Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Good wine ruins the purse, bad wine ruins the stomach.'

Spanish proverb

The ever-popular 'Call My Wine Bluff' was the February topic for the Circle. Teams heard 18 descriptions for 6 wines and decided between the bluffs and the truths. Wine Masters Summers, Hobson and Thorndycroft presented the evening's delights.

For the first white, it could have been from Thailand or Austria, but proved to be an Essex Blonde'! It was a Bacchus, 2013, from the New Hall Vineyards, Purleigh, in Essex. Bacchus is a great grape for our English climate and, even though Purleigh's soil is London Clay, members described it as lively and a real fruity one! For a white, 10.5% alcohol level is low, and for an English wine its price was too: £8.65.

The Essex then a Spaniard, were well received, but the last was the most expensive: £12.90 and disappointed. It was agreed, generally, that the Sandstone White, from Walker Bay in South Africa, 2009, was quite old for a white . . . past its best. Perhaps a much younger version would have delighted palates, but may have been dearer...

Pictures of Australian, Spanish, Italian, French and New Zealand producers and wines followed. Obviously, the real origin was there somewhere! The first red was an Auzzie: a 2012, Wild Paw Cabernet Sauvignon and at £6.55 it was very popular or 'bonza' you might say!

Spain produces some brilliant wines that often pack a punch. Ribero del Duero is less well-known than the Rioja area, but members enjoyed a Crianza from here, but it was £13.60 a bottle.

The final wine of the evening was unusual: a Pinot Noir from Italy; most are produced in France, particularly Burgundy. Even with the vat, this was only £6.60. It was regarded as very good value and excellent, which sounds to be an accurate description of yet another Wine Circle evening!

All wines were purchased via Brett Stephens of Hallgarten Druitt Wines, who, after the AGM, will preside over our final meeting of this season on 20th May.

LIDL AND LARGE or Lidl and ASDA - March meeting

It was felt, sometime ago, that wines from the cheaper supermarkets should be tested, so Geoff Adam and John Hood researched, then presented.

Geoff bought 3 Pinot Grigio from ASDA: Chile, California and Italy, with prices of £4.00, £7.25 and £9.00. ASDA's most expensive wine appeared to be £12. All of these were 2013 or 2014.

The cheapest was described as light, whereas the next, a Barefoot from the US, had more character, deeper taste. It has won numerous awards, American of course; however, it can be purchased in other supermarkets including Waitrose. It seemed that I wasn't the only one who would drink it again, because it was good summer drinking.

Many, I'm sure, assume that if one wine is the dearest of a selection offered that it will be best. Wine is subjective, but, I described the dearest, the Italian, as wincey, or should I say highly tannic. It was as if I was sucking a lemon - and I wasn't the only one to pull faces!

Lidl's reds proved to be an interesting investigation! John's French were all £8.99. Generally, I am a red drinker, but the first two, a 2012 Bordeaux, then a 2011 Medoc, did not appeal. Bordeaux, described by experts such as Jancis Robinson, has the Quality Factor and is the 'world's biggest resource of fine wine'. Mmmm, don't think she'd include this one! Medoc's label described it as perfectly balanced but perhaps the Bordeaux and the Medoc would have been easier on the palate with a meaty meal! Food makes a tremendous difference...

The last was a Vacqueyras Serabel, 2012, which was worth the wait - smoother tasting. It, like the Bordeaux, were both awarded Appellation D'Origine Protege status, once the French had removed the Cotes du Rhone Villages label in 1990, but Protected designation of Origin is also applied to French food. The criterion is four-fold: a. geographic and historic origin b. a craft or form of expertise c. a link with the region and d. quality control.

Banter and laughter abounded. You do only get what you pay for, but it proved that Wine Circle nights, can, obviously, be wincey or tasty!

Judith Adam - Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Wine is the most healthful and

most hygienic of beverages.'

Louis Pasteur

Bugs and viruses abound and circulate during autumn and winter and I succumbed in November. I was due to deliver this month's wines, but at the 11th hour it had to be a presentation by proxy; thankfully, my very able husband, Geoff, stepped in!

'Romania Surprises' probably, begs the question why, would you choose wines from here? One sociable evening last summer, courtesy of a friend, we sampled a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Wine labels interest me, I saw that it was from Romania. I was sceptical. However, it transpired to be a very pleasant white wine.

Romania is landlocked, mainly. A small, south-eastern section of its border is coastal, created by the Black Sea. It has a varied landscape, hot summers and very cold winters, and, therefore, its winemaking regions follow a diverse pattern. The north-east makes aromatic whites; the coastal winemakers produce Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc; whereas the south, with its warmer temperatures, is better for reds.

We sampled a Feteasca Regala, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. These were followed by a Pinot Noir, Merlot and a Syrah. The reds were preferred by the majority. I wasn't there, but I did have a tasting sample of all and the last two wines, the Merlot and Syrah were excellent value for their money, both £7.99, and I'd drink them again, Many members agreed that the Syrah was the best of the bunch!

Their prices ranged between £8.95 and £6.99, but they were couriered from Bristol and London wine merchants, so these charges had to be added to the final bill. Worth it, I think, to achieve a better knowledge of this beverage.

Our Christmas celebration is very popular. Sixty-one of us enjoyed homemade 3-course meals and 6 good wines to round off a very successful Wine Circle year. We started with a Prosecco, followed by a star - a Pouilly Fume made by Jonathan Pabiot. It was a delicious white, an organic Sauvignon Blanc - a star of the Loire. It was pale and refined, with a citrus fruit core. It should have been £19.99 per bottle, but Majestic's deal was and is £13.32 if you buy 2 bottles.

Unusually, we followed this with 4 reds: two Spanish and two Italian: a Sicilian Corolla Red, 2012, and a Vina Del Perdon, a Navarra Reserva, 2004, described as a 'historic vintage' and rated as excellent by the Rioja and Navarra Control Board. Aged wine has been nurtured, costing money, but this was only £9.99 from Avery's of Bristol.

I was keen to try a different supplier and drove to Bray Valley Wine, in South Molton, but it was worth it. No tastings possible, but I was recommended the Renato Ratti Ochetti 2012, Nebbiolo D'Alba, a Piedmont red. It didn't come cheap: £15.98 per bottle, a Christmas reduction of £2. Ratti's website says: 'A slightly faded ruby red . . scents of strawberry and raspberry . . elegant and full. It adds that it has: 'class, finesse and delicate aromas'. There were many complimentary voices, including mine!

Tony Summers, our Chairman, provided us with a Ribero del Duereo for the evening's finale with a Cillar de Silos 2010, from Majestic's. Another aged, oak-barrel-matured red, £17.99, but £13.40 if 2 bought. It was another great wine to end another great evening.

January to May programme:

18th February - Call My Wine Bluff.

18th March - Lidl and Large

15th April - Jonathan Coulthard from France

20th May - AGM and to end this season:

Emerging Regions by Brett Stephens Hallgarten Druitt Wines:

Judith Adam - Secretary

 

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Wine is sunlight, held together by water.

Gallileo

Turnout for our first Circle meeting of the season, October, was unexpectedly high at 54. Great turnouts are lovely to see, but I think it made our Debs even more nervous! It was good to see the superb support for Debbie and Karen. Their presentation of some of our shop's stock was pure theatre! The six tastings were varied, great value and included some surprises . . .

Their double act was one-sided, initially, as Karen led the way with descriptions of five wines: four of which were from Boland Cellar, a South African-based producer. Surprisingly, the white favourite appeared to be Flutterby - a Sauvignon Blanc. As it was in a plastic bottle, many admitted that they would have picked it up and put it back; however, it was a fruity white, and, of course, safe to take on picnics and only £6.99.

Debbie managed to overcome her nerves and presented the final red: a Bordeaux Claret, regarded as delicious by me and those around me. This was imported by Bottle Green Limited: a Leeds-based company who believe they 'bring you the very best of France'. It had body, great colour, taste and price, just £7.99: a very pleasant revelation.

We may be a small North Devon parish, but our village shop provides a great service, walking distance for many. You wouldn't need to drive to Ilfracombe to shop in a well-known store for your wine; it's on Castle Hill!

November's topic, 19th, is a first for the Circle, as all wines are Romanian. I do hope we'll see you there. Fifty-four is a good number, but our Manor Hall can take more!

Our December meeting is always on the second Wednesday, the 10th this year. It follows a tried-and-tested pattern: Committee's Choice with members' food. January's meeting, 21st, sees a change of plan: we have Ladies' Night, 6 wines with 6 ladies.

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

We are officially in autumn, summer was kind, mainly. With autumn comes a new Wine Circle season and I trust all current members are looking forward to it.

We shall be very pleased to see newcomers. It is a very social event and a great way of meeting villagers who are not your immediate neighbours.

Our meetings are always on the third Wednesday of every month, other than our Christmas one which is always a week earlier, on the second Wednesday in December. 8.00 p.m. in the Manor Hall.

Our first meeting is on Wednesday, 15th October when Karen Loftus and Debbie Thomas will perform a Double Act with Shop Delights!

I shall be giving Romania Surprises at the November meeting on the 19th.

 

Future Programme:

10th December Christmas Meal and Committee's Choice

21st January Ladies' Night

18th February 3 Committee Members present Call My Wine Bluff

18th March Geoff Adam and John Hood - Lidl and Large, a budget supermarket investigation

15th April Paul Firman, Majestic Wines

20th May AGM and Brett Stephens of Hallgarten Druitt Wines - Emerging Regions

Judith Adam

Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Penicillin cures but wine makes people happy.'

Sir Alexander Fleming

May's meeting commences with our AGM, which is historically-brief, but informative and proper. As Chairman, Tony Summers delivered this and was pleased to announce, among other things, that because of our good attendances recently, our healthy budget enables our 40+ regularly-attending members to sample excellent wines. The hall is capacious and can take plenty more, so if you fancy joining us please do. Our 2014-15 season begins at 8.00 p.m. on Wednesday, 15th October in the Manor Hall.

Tony Summers' 'Mystery Tour' was so-called because the prices were to us! For our last Wine Circle meeting of the 2013-14 season, he presented wines bought in Roscoff, Brittany. We started with a bubbly - a Sparkling Saumur. Tony had done his homework: it would have cost anything up to £13.49 a bottle in the UK, however, it was only €7. It was a lovely bubbly, but the other two whites were equally as good. One was a Sauvignon Blanc, the other a Muscadet. Their prices were €4.50 and €4.00.

The reds were equally as good. The first was a 2010 Beaujolais. It was smooth, hand-picked Gamay grapes and €9. A Malbec next, stronger than the first, but also very good at only €7, and finally a 2006 Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon which was described as complex, superior and needed food. On the 'net, similar wines would have been £16-£21 per bottle. Tony bought it for €11.5 or £9.80. There wasn't one 'iffy' wine among them, even though the cheapest worked out to be £3.42 a bottle, which just proves and highlights the tax differences on alcohol between France and the UK!

Judith Adam - Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

A Ladies Night was a first for the Circle; six wines presented by six lady members. I appreciate that I am biased, but everybody around me and other members I managed to speak to on the night thought their selection produced another excellent evening.

We started with Camel Valley bubbles; Cornwall Brut was pretty special. It was fruity and dry with a great bouquet and the price was special too: £24.95 per bottle, but hey, it's for the Wine Circle!

Our next whites were French and New Zealand: a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc region and then The Ned from Marlborough. Many thought that the Pinet was a bit thin, the flavour didn't last, but a Majestic employee described the latter as 'That's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on steroids!' It is a punchy, fruity wine. Both of these are Majestic stock and were £6.99 if two bought.

We followed these with a mixed-grape, mid-Spanish red then two Pinotage wines from South Africa. If you're a red drinker, as I am, I should be surprised if the Spanish Gran Status failed to impress; it was fruity, a smooth red with soft tannins. It's £8.50 a bottle and from our marvellous shop. Fancy being able to purchase a good red from a village shop!

The first Pinotage was Kadette from the Stellanbosch region: the dearest red, at £10.50. It was typical of this grape: heavy and fruity, but some described it as a 'Marmite moment'! Many felt it needed to be drunk with food.

It is unusual at Circle gatherings to have two of the same, but our final sampling was also from the shop and another Pinotage, but from the Western Cape: Cappupino Ccintage. It had been compared to the Kadette, tried and tested you might say! Their presenters agreed that they were different; they were! It was described as smoky, obvious coffee smell, could or even should be drunk with smoky BBQ food!

Judith Adam - Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion'. Miguel de Cervantes

Sensibly, Majestic sends their managers out to wine-producing areas to taste and learn. In January 2013, Paul Firman, Barnstaple's Manager, flew out, with others, to Chile.

It made sense to include him in this season's programme, so we could gain from this education. Paul showed us, enthusiastically, just what South America could offer. Vines and grapes benefit from temperature variety. Chile's geological features include the Andes and the Atacama Desert, which means that its grapes benefit from ideal climate conditions: hot summers, cooling coastal breezes from the South Pacific and moderate rainfall. His six examples were single-grape only; four Chilean and two Argentinean. Our first wine was a white Chilean, with a grape usually associated with Germany: a Gewurztraminer.

The Yali Reserva 2013 was produced in the Colchagua Valley. It was night-harvested, so that cool grapes are pressed without air contact and fermented at cold temperatures. This maximises its primary fruit character and it did and had a nice balance of texture and acidity. An unexpected but delicious find; many members asked Paul for its price: £9.99 currently, but will have an April offer price. Majestic recommends that it is accompanied by lightly spiced satay, grilled tiger prawns or oriental noodle salad. I'm sure it would be great on its own too or with a salad. Two other whites a Chilean Torrentes and an Argentinean Chardonnay followed before the reds: Chilean Merlot, a Carmenere and finally the dearest red: an Argentinean Malbec; however, the dearest wine of the evening was the Chardonnay at £23.00 per bottle.

Wine is personal preference, but I wasn't the only one who thought the Malbec was another delicious sample. This Italian, family-owned vineyard, in Vistalba, has been producing wine since 1901. They produced the Luigi Bosca 2011. It was deeply fruity with a dark colour . . . and had well-judged acidity. It was new to Majestic stocks and was £15.99, but £12.99 if two purchased.

Bringing Burgundy To You is a company set up by ex-pats, Lynne and David Hammond, in 2003, who live and work in the heart of this world-renowned region, near Beune. They take everyday Burgundy to great Grands Crus to tasting events for companies, clubs, societies and private parties. They are the region's 'Ambassadors'.

We learned a lot from this husband and wife team with an expert, passionate and confident delivery. I didn't know that a proper 'Kir Royale' should be made with Cremant de Bourgogne, a lightly-fizzy white wine, not Champagne, and Cassis. I learned that young Burgundies should be opened and left for up to 1/2 hour, old ones should be opened and drunk; Grand Cru vines face east and have a low yield; growers are not permitted to exceed yield. Fancy the French obeying rules!

Bourgogne wines use four grape types: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Algote and Chardonnay. Our seven wines were single grape only apart from our first: a sparking with a mix of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Algote. Our other three whites were Chardonnay. The last was £25.95, but it wasn't a 'Wow' for me! Our reds were Pinot Noir 2011 and 2012 and included the cheapest of the night at £10.66.

As it is Ladies Night next month, 16th April, I sought the opinion of some on Bourgogne wines. Four and surrounding friends gave feedback: more expensive was obvious, little bouquet, lacking in flavours. The general consensus was that they weren't particularly taken.

It was an interesting evening. If wines are disliked by some, we all appreciate that our Circle gives us the opportunity to enjoy a sociable evening and the opportunity to taste, learn and be educated...

Tony Summers presents our final gathering of the year, 16th May, which begins with our historically brief AGM. His topic: Tony's Mystery Tour. We reconvene on 15th October, after what we hope will have been another wonderful summer!

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'Wine is the thinking person's health drink'

Dr Phillip Norrie

Our November meeting was too late for inclusion in the pre-Christmas Newsletter, so I reflect on two gatherings, in December, for the first of 2014's Newsletters. This month is a social month - many of us will be tippling a glass of champagne, or a red or white and perhaps more than our usual, so I thought Dr Norrie's statement would bring comfort to us all!

We certainly tipped a few with Jonathan Coulthard in November. Our usual tastings are 6, but he provided 8 wines from the Duras area. He is a producer-grower in the smallest appellation: Cotes de Duras AOC, in the Department of Lot et Garonne, in the region of Aquitaine, but it was one of the first: 1937. The town of Duras is close to Bergerac and Bordeaux.

All wine was produced 'en famille': in vineyards privately owned, generally by more than 1 generation. They all seemed to meet with approval and, annoyingly, 7 were less than €10, but French duty is only 3 cents! The penultimate was a sweet wine - 80% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadet, but this was €25.50. His own award-winning red: Chateau Terra finished the evening. Another inclusion was a 14%, €5 Merlot, 2009. This was Domaine de Grande Mayne. Jonathan described it as coming from a 'progressive vineyard' and was where he gained his work experience having trained at Plumpton College.

Plumpton in East Sussex, as a matter of interest, specialises in 'land-based courses', and is a 'Centre of Excellence in wine education'. It is the only Higher Education Institute to offer undergraduate degrees in Wine Business and Production in English in Europe.

As another point of interest, a red and a white wine from his vineyard are now stock items in our village shop. His next visit may be next year, so you need not wait for this to be able to sample some good French wine, made from hand-picked grapes only.

Good cheer, good food and wine were enjoyed by 52 members and friends, exactly 2 weeks before Christmas Day. 'Committee's Choice' was presented by 6 of our 7 committee members. We began with 'bubbles': a Cava, that used to be termed 'Spanish Champagne', a Viognier and a delicious Sancerre. These were followed by 2 Merlots and the question was 'Which is better?' The answer was lost in the conviviality! We ended our evening with a superb 9-year-old Claret. This was the dearest at £15.99, but less £3 each if 2 purchased, the Merlots were at the other end of the scale at £6.99. All were purchased through Barnstaple's Majestic.

Sampling a few mouthfuls of a variety of wines at the Circle is a wonderful way to taste and discover. Our meetings provide an excellent opportunity to sample wines and avoid the situation of buying something,

particularly for a special occasion, and then realising that you don't like it! I have realised that, usually, during our 8-meeting season, we get to sample 48 wines and all for an annual fee of £5 per head and an evening charge of £6 per individual that covers wine expenditure.

As far as I'm concerned, our winter months can't be over soon enough and without its festive gatherings and occasional blue-sky days, it would be even more of a lacklustre season. Thankfully, our excellent Christmas meeting is followed by another: January's 'Call My Wine Bluff '. These have been running since 2007 and are always a tremendous hit with our members.

Seven teams pitted their wits against the descriptions delivered by Geoff Adam, our able Chairman Tony Summers and John Thorndycroft. All six wines, foil-clad, were given three plausible descriptions and, therefore, Tony said, their night of words could be summarised by a famous Eric Morecombe quote: 'I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order!'

Our wines came from France, Germany, Spain and Australia; other whines came from the floor and were again clarified by Tony: 'it was interesting to hear the moans and groans when answers were wrong and the cheers when teams were right!' The quintet winners, 'Famous Five', each walked away with a Spanish 'Reserva'.

Judith Adam - Secretary & Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Wine Circle meetings resumed on Wednesday, October 16th, the first of the eight meetings in our new season: 2013-14. It was pleasing to see many familiar faces and several new members. Geoff and I joined in October 2007 and have enjoyed every meeting attended and I'm sure our forthcoming programme will not disappoint.

John Hood, in his inimitable fashion, invited us to taste six wines from the Iberian Peninsula, which has a greater wine-growing area than any other country, but is only the world's 3rd producer and this is because the vines are placed further apart than in other areas. All wines were sourced from Averys in Bristol, which were couriered.

Two of the three whites and two of the reds were Spanish. The Pazo do Mar Expression 2012, from Galicia, N.W. Spain, is made from a single grape: Albarino, and priced at £11.99. Quinta Nova Pomares 2012 is from the Douro region of Portugal, a triple-grape mix, £10.99, but both gained appreciation.

All reds were from blends of grapes, but the Clos del Pinell, Gran Reserva, 2005 closed John's presentation. At £10.99 it was the dearest. There seemed to be a general consensus of opinion that the dearest were the preferred tastings. Perhaps this proves that you only get what you pay for!

The last meeting of 2013 is Wednesday, December 11th. It doesn't matter if you have missed November's meeting, we are always pleased to see new faces. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, our December meeting is our Christmas special: our Food and Wine gathering. Incredible edibles are produced by our members for a specific number, and, therefore, it would be very useful, prior to the meeting, to know if you think you may join our Circle in December. The first meeting of the new year will be on Wednesday, 15th January - an evening of 'Call My Wine Bluff'.

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'... good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people.' William Shakespeare

I've always thought this Bard was a clever man. 'Company . . . wine (and) welcome' are in 'good' supply at our Wine Circle evenings!

We've had several months of wonderful sunshine recently, so I'm sure many have enjoyed a glass or two with or without family and friends in our gardens. This has been the best summer, I believe, for seven years; however, the nights are beginning to draw in, signalling that autumn is on its way and, therefore, it is nearly time for enjoying six tastings at the Manor Hall.

Wednesday 16th October sees the beginning of our forthcoming programme for 2013-14. John Hood, a long-standing member and witty presenter, introduces the season with a look and taste of Iberian Wines. Knowing John's ability, I am sure he will find some interesting and delightful examples from this large European wine-growing area.

20th November is our second event when we shall have the pleasure of hearing Jonathan Coulthard again. For those that don't know, Jonathan is a 'vine to wine' man, living and working on his French vineyard in the Cotes du Duras. His presentation will include his award-winning Terra: a terrific red, but the majority of samples will focus on his local competition. Earlier this year, members and guests had the pleasure of sampling some of this competition and it was good, very good.

Proceedings begin at 8.00 p.m. in the Manor Hall. I look forward to seeing numerous 'good people' - old and new faces. It's a great way of seeing if Shakespeare is right!

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

 

'Wine is bottled poetry.' (R.L. Stevenson)

Typically, our May meeting began with Alex Parke, our Chairman, presiding over this season's AGM. Having delivered the formalities with his usual brevity, the Circle learned that he would be standing down from office. The Circle has benefitted from 20 years official service, but he will continue, gladly, as a member. Flowers and wine were presented to Pam and Alex in recognition of their years of support. Other committee members were re-elected unanimously, as was Tony Summers for the Chairmanship; we shall be in good hands again.

It is always a pleasure to welcome and listen to Jonathan Coulthard, a French vineyard owner. Two thousand and thirteen has been a very special year for him and his Domain Gourdon wines. Earlier this year he, and invited guests, celebrated the tenth anniversary of his vineyard near Duras in Lot-et-Garonne. Additionally, this independent wine producer can now boast, proudly, a Gold medal from Paris. He entered his Chateau Terra Rouge 2010, in the Vignerons Independents de France competition regionally. Regional winners were then submitted to the Parisian finale. His Terra is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, described as 'oak aged, mellow and smooth'. It certainly was.

We had the pleasure of tasting this along with a Sauvignon, Rose and another red, a sparkling Sauvignon and a dessert wine from two other Cotes de Duras producers. Unusually, many thought all wines were delicious apart from the sparkling wine. All grapes were hand-picked, making the noticeable difference. Members sipped whilst enjoying the pictorial story of the celebrations at his home and workplace.

Currently, holidays are at the forefront of people's minds, but when these are past and it becomes, once again, the 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,' October sees the beginning of our 2013-14 Season: 8.00 p.m. Wednesday 16th October in the Manor Hall. I'm sure Jonathan will feature again, at some point, in this forthcoming programme.

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

A most entertaining and provocative evening was had at our April meeting when the speaker was the Wine Circle secretary, Judith Adam who came up with a novel theme which she billed as "Judith's Mystery Tour". We have had blind tastings before which are always great entertainment, particularly when you hear suggestions of what the wine is that are wildly out. Judith produced a novel twist to this as she took the Antiques Wine Show idea of basic, better, best and applied it to wine.

The wines were supplied in foil wrapped bottles hiding all trace of what they were and although poured separately, we were encouraged to keep an amount of each in three separate glasses so that they could be compared. We had to decide based on our estimate of price, which was basic, which better and which was the best of the three.

The wines were all from the Cotes de Rhone/Languedoc area and sourced from Majestic wines in Barnstaple. The first group of three wines were all pale rose, sometimes called 'blusher' wines and it was quickly apparent that we found ourselves out of our comfort zone in trying to grade them. We had to agree on a consensus from the table of 12 but we had such a variety of opinions that in the end we had a show of hands for each one to decide on our result - and it was wrong! I think this was indicative of how little we tended to drink rose wines resulting in little experience to base our marking on.

We then moved onto three reds to be judged on the same basis. Here it was clear that red wine has become the first choice for most people at the Circle as nearly everyone got it 100% correct. The better and best of the red wines were really excellent. These were a Rasteau, Cotes de Rhone and a very good Chateauneuf du Pape that Judith had spotted months ago at a really bargain price, £9.99 instead of £17.99! No wonder we liked it. The Rasteau was strong, fruity and full bodied, particularly well-suited to accompany food such as red meat dishes and strong cheese. The Chateauneuf du Pape was similar although more complex, as one would expect from a wine that may have up to 13 grape varieties in the blend and with a smooth, mellowness to it that you only get from a top quality, well matured wine.

Well done Judith, a novel idea, well presented and very much enjoyed by all.

Our last meeting of the season is on the 15th May. Following our short AGM, we'll be delighted to see and hear Jonathan Coulthard again with his home-grown produce.

TS.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Sip Some, Tip One!

Pam and Alex Parke used 'Can we Trust a Newspaper Guide?' as their theme to present to February's Circle gathering. Aided and abetted by Victoria Moore, Daily Telegraph Wine Correspondent since 2010, they referred to her 'Wines for the Festive Season' article featured last December.

Following usual format, six wines were purchased via 'off the shelf' and 'on the web'. Majestic, M & S, Sainsbury's and Tesco's supplied; prices ranged between £5.99 and £13.99.

Tesco's Finest Albarino 2011 was voted favourite white; Mont Milan Corbieres 2010 was a 'very good value' red: Majestic's £5.99 for two or more; and the Finest Via Mara Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 was also thought to be 'very good, but pricey': Tesco's £13.99. Riojas are never 'cheap', but any wine that deserves a 'Gran Reserva' and is 8 years old has been looked after and is 'aged', and, therefore, is always going to be dearer than your daily 'plonk' - a special occasion perhaps?

Hunter Valley, two hours north of Sydney, is one of the New World's famous producing areas: home to numerous wineries, including Lindemans and McGuigans. Another is 'award-winning winery' McWilliam's, producer of our 3rd white of the evening, a 2006 Taste the Difference Semillon, £9.99 from Sainsbury's. 'Taste the Difference'? We certainly did!

... and it proved to be the tipping point for more than 40, as it was sipped then tipped. Descriptions included that it was 'like diesel', had an 'unpleasant, industrial, metallic taste' and others wondered if it was 'off'.

'Off' or 'corked' is a possibility, but an 'e' conversation between the Parkes and Ms Moore revealed others too. She wondered if it was a 'stylistic thing' as she drinks 'loads' of Semillon at home and knew many others in the wine trade did too; however, another email revealed she had 'Twittered' colleagues and learned that wine shop owners had 'stopped showing it at consumer tastings as no one liked it or bought it.'

Jancis Robinson, described as the 'world's most prolific wine author', which includes ' The Oxford Companion to Wine', is a 'Master of Wine' and has been 'writing and broadcasting since 1975', should know a thing or two, but she can be quoted as saying that she thinks 'Hunter Valley Semillon is Australia's unique gift to the wine world'. Mmm, perhaps we should email her and ask what we've missed!

A 'Fabulous' Finale . . .

Brett Stephens, has been the face of 'Fabulous Wines', for the last seven years: three at St John's Garden Centre, then four as an internet outlet. His training began as a part-time job at 'Bottoms Up' many years ago because he was a musician. He informed us at our March presentation that this was his last; he returns to music.

We wish him well, particularly as evenings with him and his choice of wines have always been most enjoyable. His final choice included surprises; they were all foil clad! Time at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London meant blind tastings, so we did too.

Many members admit to being 'ABC': anything but Chardonnay; however, we were all surprised when we sampled his first: 'Deer Point', a non-oaked, Bulgarian Chardonnay, 13% at £6.39. Many around me thought this was 'lovely', atypical and great for a summer's sipping.

He admits to being a Francophile, but only two of his six were French and none were dearer than £8.00 a bottle. Thanks to the internet age, all wines can be purchased electronically, so, Brett, 'If music be the food of love...play on!'

Finally, our penultimate event is Wednesday April 17th at 8.00 p.m. entitled: 'Judith's Mystery Evening' and it doesn't include a Semillon!

Judith Adam, Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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Half-way there . . . .

By the time this is read, the Circle will have had four of its eight meetings and be looking at its fifth. Where do the months go? Perhaps some disappear in an alcoholic haze!

Our Christmas tastings were a great success, considerable cold buffets were devoured with Committee's Choice. We began with the Marks & Spencer's Mulled Wine, which was agreed by many to be excellent. Their festive season offer was two bottles for £10. It was agreed that if you could buy something this tasty making one's own was unnecessary - just add the oranges!

January's meeting was our usual Call My Wine Bluff. Tony Summers was allowed to step down as Secretary last year, with the proviso that he continue to be scriptwriter and manage this gathering. Giving consideration to blind tastings in this annual team event has proved to be another popular and hilarious evening with 'lies, damned lies and statistics'! The True or Bluff trio John T, Tony S and Geoff A presented 6 interesting wines supplied by Brett Stevens of The Fabulous Wine Company. The Sterridge Sizzlers sipped their way successfully through to score a first prize - more wine, of course!

Pam and Alex Parke, our Damson Cottage duo, will be our hosts for Wednesday, February 20th. Their topic will be 'Cheap and Cheerful to a special red', or, 'Can we trust a newspaper guide?'

March 20th, April 17th and May 15th will be our final presentations: another season completed. Our membership has increased recently; however, the Manor Hall can take plenty more . . .

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

 

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6 + 17 + 20 + 42 = 1st Berrynarbor Wine Circle meeting of 2012-13.

and in reverse order . . .

Forty-two members, new and old, were reminded that our Wine Circle has existed for twenty years in its current form by Alex Parke, our Chairman, who was also the Master of Ceremonies for this season's first meeting on 17th October . Six wines were presented by Paul Firman, Manager of Barnstaple's Majestic.

Paul has become a regular with our Circle, but this presentation was a special, entitled Award Winners - a summer theme this year, if ever there was one! A white Rioja, and an Argentinian Malbec for under £10 were voted Best in Show by the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards, 2012 and were just two sampled by those present.

November's meeting on the 21st will be hosted by yet another visiting professional, Jonathan Coulthard. Jonathan's wines are, however, his own, from his vineyard: Domaine Gourdon in south-west France. His wines are, certainly, worth tasting and worth buying, which will be a possibility.

Our festive tastings will be on 12.12.12, accompanied by a 'bring and share' meal - the tables groan, but the participants don't! A great time is had by all.

Judith Adam - Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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'Miss Chichester's Big Adventure' There haven't been many dry August days and evenings, but the 2nd was, which added to the enjoyment of 36 members and friends attending a first: a Wine Tasting at Arlington Court. Majestic supplied the wine and Circle supplied some of the support! Someone has to do it!

In the 1920's, Arlington's lady of the manor, Rosalie Chichester, travelled to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Twenty-first century testers tasted a trio of samples from each - a small selection from Majestic's current stock. It gave us all an opportunity to socialise, discuss and decide those we liked or not. Samples were ample, so too were the delicious canapes produced by the National Trust's caterers.

Many seized the opportunity to have a private house tour or a quiet walk around the grounds as well as a drink and chat on a summer's evening in majestic surroundings. The homeward coach journey was a noisy, high-spirited affair. I wonder why!

 

Via the 'grape-vine', I have heard that there are couples who are interested in our group, but one person is either a teetotaller or doesn't drink wine. Geoff and I joined the month after we moved into the village and have always enjoyed, thoroughly, these evenings because it is a superb way of meeting and getting to know fellow villagers. Usually, there has been a £6 charge for every person attending each meeting; however, from October, there will be no charge for anybody that wishes to socialise, comes with their 'partner' but does not participate in the wine tasting at all.

Judith Adam: Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator

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Our March meeting was unfortunately too late for the report to go in the April Newsletter, so although some weeks ago, it should be mentioned that Pam and Alex Parke presented 'Wines That We Like'. We began with a white Spanish 'fizz' and ended with a 'heavy' Portuguese 'Shiraz type'. In between we sampled other whites from New Zealand and South Africa and an Argentinean and Lebanese red. Typically, preferences varied; some white-wine drinkers enjoyed 'The Ned Black Label', a Pinot Grigio from Marlborough, whilst others thought the 'Musar Hochar' from the Bekaa Valley was 'rather good'. It really was a case of 'each to their own'.

Even though our 'Circle' has been going since 1988, new presentation ideas still occur. April's meeting was 'Members' Choices'.

Proceedings began with Jonathan Peat presenting a blind tasting of another 'Ned': a Sauvignon Blanc Trophy winner. Members wrote an individual assessment without discussion, and, therefore, avoided the usual 'peer pressure'. Most of us had decided that this white was very 'gluggable'! Phil Brown's choice was 'Wines with Cheese': The 'Yarg' then the 'Dorset Blue Vinny' complemented the wines well. A French Sauvignon Blanc followed by our first red, from Tuscany. Many red drinkers thought this 'Poggioargentiera' was delicious. Popular in Italian supermarkets, it was the dearest of the evening at £11.99 for one bottle at Majestic. Raymond Blanc, in 'The Very Hungry Frenchman', had revealed

that his favourite grape was Gewurtztraminer. Bill Scholes used this revelation for his choice. Its bouquet of lychee, roses and Turkish Delight was noticeable; however, many white wine palates, generally, found it too sweet. Another 'Wines That We Like' were French reds, presented by Len Boudier on this occasion. A 2006 mix of Merlot and Cab. Savignon preceded an example of the Solera process, more usually used for sherries. This was 100% Grenache grape, aged by a percentage taken annually from 1999 to 2011 to produce a bottle with the most bizarre label and name: 'Little James' Basket Press'. Comments abounded on their marketing but not their wine!

May is our last meeting of the season. Members and wines were award winners on this occasion, which began with a presentation to our Secretary Tony Summers and his wife Pip, who have researched, organised, presented, cooked for and supported meetings for the last twenty years. Flowers by Sue Neale and a case of Majestic wine were, apparently, 'gratifying' for what Tony said has been 'a labour of love'.

Jan Tonkin, seemingly synonymous with May, presented 'Everyone's a Winner'. Our six wines had won an award from either Decanter World Wine or Wine Magazine. Our first, from Lidl, was champagne: a Commended and Bronze 'Decanter' winner in 2009, 10 and 11 and at £14.99 is cheap for French 'bubbly', but was the dearest white, as the others were £6.99 and £7.45: one French, the other a German Riesling, both from Majestic. Two reds and a rose followed, but the latter was a desert wine: a 3-year-old, half-bottle of a Croix Milhas: a Rivesaltes Ambre from the Pays D'Herault region, courtesy of Tesco's. It had won a 'Silver' from 'Wine', had the highest percentage, 16%, and was 'plum, prune, nuts' and purchasable at £4.49.

Summer is ahead, we hope; time to sip and sample with friends and family. Our meetings are usually on the third Wednesday of the month and we shall meet again at 8.00 p.m. on Wednesday 16th October, at the Manor Hall and look forward to seeing new faces.

Judith Adam

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The February Wine Circle meeting was billed as Judiths Mystery Night, and it turned out to indeed include a bit of mystery.  She came up with the novel idea of presenting a blind tasting of a wine for which we had to decide what the grape was, then to compare it with wines made from the same grape but from different areas of the world.   

The mystery white drew several different proposals as to what grape it was, including Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio, but was correctly identified by one table, not only the grape but to its actual region an appellation Touraine made from Sauvignon Blanc in the middle Loire region in France.The Touraine is similar to two other, but expensive wines made from Sauvignon Blanc in near-by areas -  Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. The Touraine, like them is a crisp white wine, perfect with all forms of sea food, but at a much more affordable price.  The Touraine Sauvignon Blanc was then compared with one from South Africa and a  most unusual offering, a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate, New Zealand, a first for most of the members.

The mystery red had everyone guessing, and mainly wrong! It was in fact a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pays Doc region of France - most thought it was a Merlot from just about anywhere else in the world but France.However, once the grape variety had been revealed the next two reds were more typical of the grape with its strong blackcurrant flavours. Once again though, the difference of style from Pays Doc, France,  Clare Valley Australia and Mendoza in Argentina made for very interesting tasting and comparisons.

Well done Judith, a new idea very well executed and again a most enjoyable social evening for the Berrynarbor Wine Circle.

TS.

 

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Jonathan and Susie Peat saw Jean and Peter Pell's advert, 'Home for Rent' and seized the opportunity to leave a South Devon let and transfer to a North Devon village to see if they liked this area of the county. They joined the Sterridge community on the 4th November and the Circle on the 16th!

Newcomers to the village and to the Circle can provide a valuable, interesting and perhaps beneficial opinion. Their first impression of the Circle was that it was 'thriving . . . impressed with the number of people supporting it and the level of interest'.

When asked about our Christmas 'do', Jonathan commented that it was 'a nice idea . . . clever to combine a social occasion with a wines' presentation'. For those that haven't yet joined, our Yuletide tables groan with a three or four course meal, supplied by our members.

Personal preference affects everything; it was interesting to hear his thoughts on our Christmas selection: two whites, three reds and a dessert wine. Following a Sancerre taste-a-like, he remembered, particularly, 'the Yorkshire one', another white wine. Yes, this came from a West Yorkshire vineyard first planted in August 2007, in, ironically, Last of the Summer Wine territory, Holmfirth. Jon found it 'sweet', but heard others nearby saying that they liked it. 'I'm usually disappointed by English wines... they're expensive . . . perfectly acceptable, but tend not to meet my taste because of the ones that they can grow here. I like something dry like a Chardonnay or oaked Chardonnay. It was a well-made wine, but at £11.99 I wouldn't buy it.'

Two southern Italian and a French red followed, but a Chilean dessert wine: 'Vistamar Late Harvest Moscatel 2010' was our finale. A new addition to Majestic's stock, it sells at £4.79, for a half bottle, when two bottles are purchased. It made a delicious accompaniment to our dessert and positive comments abounded. On Christmas Eve, we visited the Warehouse, specifically, to buy some; however, we discovered that The Times had written recently about this little sweetie. Their article had spurred many others, to buy it, so, unusually, we left empty handed.

'Call My Wine Bluff' is synonymous with our January meeting; it's a 'winederful' beginning to a new year!  Brett Stevens of the Fabulous Wine Company supplied the alcohol and our three presenters supplied the 'lies, damned lies and statistics!'   Our three white and three red taste tests were wines from Italy, France, Argentina, Spain and two from Australia.  Their prices ranged from £5.99 to £10.99.

Noise levels always rise as any successful social event progresses.  Our drinking and debating of whether, for example, we were drinking a Pinot Noir from Argentina, a Burgundian Fleurie or a Chilean Merlot was accompanied by plenty of hilarity and banter, which filled the Manor Hall and all for an entry price of just £5!  Strength does not always come with number; five teams of six and one team of four competed, but, ironically, or perhaps, because there was less debate, the smallest team won: four bottles of good wine.

Our season continues until May.  If you fancy joining our 'motley crew', please contact our Secretary, Tony Summers, on 883600 or Jill McCrae on 882121 for details. 

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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Wine, Women... but no song!

Our 2011-12 season began in a 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', as our first presentation was in October. It was a good start, as Majestic of Barnstaple's Manager, Paul Firman, introduced us to a few of their 'Chenin Blanc and New Wave Spain' wines.

Majestic Wine Warehouse is the 'UK's biggest and best retailer specialising in sales of wine by the mixed case'. They were founded in 1980 and now have over 160 stores throughout the Kingdom. 2011 has been a bumper year for them as they collected the overall Merchant of the Year award at the International Wine Challenge, as well as receiving the Decanter High Street Chain of the Year. As a company, I suspect that they would expect all of their staff to know more than their main competitors, i.e. the supermarkets, as suppliers like Taylors, of Port fame, do tastings' trips in order to educate Majestic staff.

All wine prices were 'subject to buying 2 bottles of the same wine as part of a mixed case of 6'. Our first was the cheapest at £9.99 and our last was the dearest at £14.99.

The evening's tastings began, typically, with a white, a 2009 Vouvray from the Loire, which, if kept in optimum conditions, could be served up in 2031! Oher Chenin wines were from the famous South African wine-growing region of Stellenbosch, with the final sampling of the evening again from the Loire, but this was a dessert wine.

The Spanish selection was intense... complex and structured, reds, with colours of blackcurrants or blackberries, plums and cherries: a liquid fruit bowl! They were 'rich' too and would have made great mates with 'game, charcuterie' or 'cow'!

South Africa: stunning scenery sits under blue skies and hot sunshine. It's hardly surprising that the climate of this big country makes it a well-known wine producer, but it is its Western Cape that is the place for its vineyards. These cluster around Cape Town and its beautiful coastline and head north beyond Lambert's Bay and south and east ending at Plettenberg Bay.

Together, Tony Summers with Majestic's help produced three whites and three reds for our November meeting. The Bellingham Homestead, close to Fransschhoek regarded as the dining capital of South Africa, was built in 1693. It is a National Monument and the home of Bellingham Wines. They provided our first and last: a white Viognier and a red Pinotage. The white was fruity but regarded by some as 'wincey', but their red Bush Vine had sediment, a sign of quality and was regarded as excellent.

Rustenberg is another late 17th century estate; we sampled one of their 'hand-picked' whites. Only one member present had heard of the Roussanne grape, perhaps unsurprising, as it has been stated that it 'ought to be extinct'! Its yields are irregular; it has little resistance to mildew and rot and is easily damaged by wind and drought. It was 14.5%, high for a white, but it was good that its producers couldn't hear our verdict: not worth £13.99!

Prices for our evening's selection began at £6.99 for a Porcupine Ridge red and the £13.99 was our dearest. Six wines: a small sample from South Africa's wine region, but they provided another interesting, convivial evening.

Our December meeting is our Christmas gathering, where the tables groan under buffet food and it's all washed down with another six wines. As seating and feeding have to be organised for this gathering, if you would like to join the Circle on Wednesday December 14th, please contact Tony Summers, 883600, or Jill McCrae on 882121beforehand.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

'. . . new wine into new bottles and both are Preserved.'

Yes, it's that time again; October is the first of Berrynarbor Wine Circle's 2011/12 programme, for newcomers and 'old-timers' alike. Our first four dates and topics for you all are Wednesdays, 8.00 p.m. in the Manor Hall:

19th October Majestic Wines presentation

16th November South African Wines with Tony Summers

14th December Christmas Food and Drink

18th January Call My Wine Bluff.

Our programme for February through until and including May is 'under construction', so we'll keep you informed, as they say!

It has been said before, but as removal vehicles have been seen in the village since last May's meeting, newcomers will be given a very warm welcome. It is a great way to meet the 'old-timers' and others like yourselves who have moved to the village recently and have joined our Circle. If thinking of coming to your first meeting, it would be a good idea to contact Jill McCrae on 882121.

We have a £3 membership fee and members pay between £5 and £7 on the night. All monies received are 'returned' because the meetings' fees covers the cost of participants' samplings. Joining is possible throughout the programme.

Our first meeting may herald autumn, but it's one of the many village delights! We look forward to seeing you all.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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Our pre-Easter and pre-'that wedding' meeting saw us 'journey' to South America. Thankfully, our enthusiastic Secretary, Tony Summers, had travelled miles . . . all the way to Barnstaple's Majestic Wine Warehouse to purchase his liquid presentation. Majestic wine tastings are possible, but Tony decided upon a 'blind buy.' The presenter and the tasters were pleasantly surprised by most!


Wine is made all over South America, vines were planted in Peru in the 16th century, but Chile and Argentina are the only countries currently producing sufficient quantities for foreign markets to obtain easily. Argentina is the continent's largest wine producer and ranked fifth in the world. 'Quantity' may be the accolade for this country, but it is its neighbour, Chile, described by the trade as a 'viticultural paradise' that wins the 'most meritorious award'.


Three Chilean whites began the proceedings: a Gewurztraminer, a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Gewurz means 'spicy'. This certainly wasn't, but it wasfruity and happened to be the cheapest wine of the evening, at £7.49. Many agreed that it would be perfect with fish, a light lunch or in the garden with sunshine!


Wine label wording can include 'AOC' or 'Appellation d'OrigineContrlee'. For a wine to bear this it has complied with certain tasting characteristics and will have been made in strict geographical limits. Unfortunately, perhaps, it has also come to mean 'Anything Other than Chardonnay'! You either love it or hate it; it didn't suit many palates and this was the dearest at £10.99.


Argentina had produced two of our reds: a Bonarda and a Malbec. The latter was our last, which delighted many, even though it was the dearest of the evening at £12.99.


Usually AGM's induce groans, but 'Mr Chairman', Alex Parke, delivered the necessary in his annual speedy and efficient manner and introduced our final speaker for this season: Jan Tonkin. May meetings seem to be synonymous with Jan and his winter holidays: May 2010 was 'South African Wines', but the expectation of 'Wines from Sri Lanka' was intriguing. The Circle was amused by the projection screen as it revealed a blank list! Where to now? Our answer: 'Wines from . . . Where?'


We zigzagged across the world accompanied by faces and places associated with Romania, India, Tasmania, Canada, Lebanon and Mexico. There was a 'fruity, fresh and crisp' beginning supplied by the Pinot Grigio from Romania, retailing at £4.79. An Indian Sauvignon Blanc, a rose predominantly Pinot Noir from Tasmania, another Pinot Noir from Canada, a 'Cab Sav' from Lebanon and a Mexican Petite Sirah followed. Others prices ranged between £6.99 and £12.99.


Jan had even managed to find his name on a label . . . well almost. 'Jansz' Tasmanian bubbling pink creation was appreciated and one of two supplied by Oddbins. Many members seemed to agree that the Lebanese red was a delicious find. It was one of four provided by Elixir Wines. A commercial note: Oddbins went into administration last month, but Jan's orders arrived as promised. Elixir Wines is a London-based wholesaler but it will deliver to any address in the UK.


This season has finished; however, we restart in October. That meeting will be another Majestic 'moment' as Barnstaple's Manager,


Paul Firmin, will be our first presenter for 2011-2012. If you enjoy a glass or two, we shall be pleased to see new faces.
 

Judith Adam Promotional Co-ordinator


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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Our circle was delighted to have a third visit from Jonathan Coulthard this month. March hares weren't there but there were numerous impressed mutterings and smiling faces when they sampled his two whites, one rose and three reds! It is unusual to enjoy all presented wines; some can be too dry, too sweet or a preference for a red wine, for example, means that whites just aren't appreciated. This wasn't apparent on this occasion and we were surrounded by members who agreed with us.

Jonathan had a successful career in civil engineering at Heathrow until the '90's when he felt a strong desire to change direction. Student life beckoned, at Plumpton College in East Sussex, which is the only college in the whole of the UK offering degree-level courses in Viticulture [the science of cultivating grapevines] and Oenology [the study of wine]. A further two-year's practical experience in France followed. He had the opportunity of working in Australia, so, as wine-drinkers, we are fortunate that whilst in France, he heard of an opportunity to buy nine hectares, almost 23 acres, of vineyard near Duras, south-west France that included some semi-derelict buildings. This opportunity was seized as he knew his engineering skills could be used to transform these into a home and premises for wine production and sales. 'Domaine Gourdon' 2003 was his first vintage; awards and international sales have followed. We have invited him to return for our next season and our invitation has been accepted.

Which reminds me . . . unfortunately, our year is coming to an end. April and May's evenings will be our last until we restart in October.

Tony Summers, our enthusiastic Secretary, will enlighten us in April as we tap into South American tipples. Our May meeting includes formality, but there will be brevity too!  Our AGM, will be swiftly followed by Jan Tonkin, who will entertain and treat us to an unexpected Asian selection, from Sri Lanka.

Judith Adam -Promotional Co-ordinator

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Usually, our monthly format means that a member selects six wines and, therefore, spends the entire evening describing their selection, waiting for opinions, answering questions and seated on their own before their audience. A new idea, 'Committee's Choice' proved to be an excellent decision for our Christmas gathering on December 8th, as wines were presented by six members. These discrete deliveries enabled everybody to make their presentations, participate in the generous three or four course buffet and the camaraderie that always prevails. Star of the alcoholic show was for many the dessert wine: a liquid Christmas pudding if ever there was one!

'Call My Wine Bluff' was another success, as usual. Typically, the panel trio teased us with TRUE and FALSE descriptions of another six wines: three white and three reds, from vineyards 'down under', France, Italy, South Africa and Spain. It was a shame that we weren't all quaffing these on their sunny slopes, but you can't have everything and be in two places at once! It was another delightful evening with an abundance of friendship and fun.

February's meeting, on the 16th, will be another interesting and varied sextet: a small sample from the numerous, excellent wines produced by our nearest European neighbour - France. Nicola Keeble lives and works in the Dordogne, but we shall be treated to 'The Wonder Tour': wines from the coastal Languedoc region of France.

A date change means now that the March meeting will also be devoted to France, but on this occasion, our host, Jonathan Coulthard, not only lives and works here but owns the vineyard! His 'Domaine Gourdon' is near the 'beautiful medieval town of Duras', in a 'renowned wine-growing area', between Bordeaux and Bergerac, south-west France. We know that Nicola and Jonathan will provide again some superb samplings for us.

Tony Summers will 'travel' west to present 'South America Revisited' in April; Jan Tonkin completes our 2010/2011 season in May and will 'head east' to supply tastings from Sri Lanka.

New members are always welcome; it is a great way to meet more locals and make friends, particularly if you are newcomers. Our party consists of a few 'Wine Buffs'; most of us just enjoy, thoroughly, the ability to imbibe, learn a little, laugh a lot and, perhaps, walk home!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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Our new season began in October with a 'biggy'! Forty-four Members were treated to a Fabulous Wine Company evening. Brett and Jane Stevens produced delicious winning wines and very tasty tapas again, but on this occasion, Jane's sister had flown in from Melbourne to assist in the kitchen!

It was a hard act to follow, but John Hood whet our appetites with his tastings from 'The Last Decade'. We travelled down the years with international flavours: Europe, the New World and South America.

We end this year's gatherings on 8th December. As this is our Christmas meeting, wines of 'The Committee's choice' will be accompanied with food provided by our members.

2011 begins, for us, on 19th January, with the very popular 'Call My Wine Bluff' the panel tease us with their secret selections and the highest scoring team will win a bottle, but a good night will be had by all.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator

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The Berrynarbor Wine Circle will be starting its 23rd year in October and we have another enjoyable programme lined up.

We start on 20th October with what should be a most interesting and enjoyable evening presented by Brett Stevens of the Fabulous Wine Company. He will again be providing both wine and food, demonstrating the way in which they can complement each other.  He will be accompanied by his wife Jane who will provide all the 'tapas'. They did a similar presentation last year for us and it was superb, one of the best ever, so don't miss this one.

In November, on the 17th, John Hood will be reviewing the 'Last Decade' for us. He always finds new ways of entertaining us so another good evening is no doubt in store.

The Christmas Food and Drink evening is on 8th December, and this will once again be effectively a three course meal provided by the members between them and with wines presented by the committee. Each committee member will introduce a wine of their choice.

January will see the return of our extremely popular Quiz Night - Call My Wine Bluff - always lots of fun!

New members are always welcome, or if you can only attend one meeting, just contact me beforehand on 883600 or email tony.veranos@gmail.com . You will find it an enjoyable and affordable evening out as membership fees are once again held at £3.00 for the year and the monthly entrance charge has only to cover the cost of the wine and hire of the hall each month.

Tony Summers

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In April we had the pleasure of Brett Stevens from the Fabulous Wine Company as our presenter and what a superb night it turned out to be. Brett's wife, Jane, volunteered to make some canapes to accompany each wine and show the relationship between wine and food - how one can complement the other. Not a small undertaking when you consider that we have between 35 and 40 people at most meetings, so for 6 different wines to taste - I'll leave you to do the maths yourselves! And what wonderful canapes they were, superbly matched to the wines, even to the last one an Australian equivalent to vintage port - a fortified shiraz at £29.98 per 50cc bottle! As Brett described it 'a bit of indulgence'. The wines were excellent, the food first-class and the atmosphere incredible - one of the best meetings for some time

At the May meeting, preceded by the Circle's AGM, Chairman

Alex Parke managed to complete that part of the evening in record time, taking less than 7 minutes to conclude all business. Tom Bartlett stepped down from the committee so we shall be looking for a new recruit to replace him. As the Circle has been going for over 20 years, most things virtually look after themselves so the position is not onerous, but a new voice with new ideas would be welcome.  Alex thanked the committee for all their work making his job as Chairman an easy one before introducing the speaker for the evening, Jan Tonkin, a long standing member of the group and ex-committee member.

As usual, Jan gave a very interesting presentation on South African wines accompanied by slides and videos from last year's holiday he and Mary spent there. As usual a great night was had by all.

The Circle now takes a break and the next meeting will be in October by which time the committee will have decided upon themes and presenters for the new 'tasting season'. If you have any ideas or suggestions or fancy doing a presentation yourself, please contact me so that this can be incorporated. The new programme will be sent out to all existing members in September, anyone else who is new to the Wine Circle and wishes to be included on the mailing list and receive a copy should e-mail me on tony.veranos@googlemail.com .

Tony Summers

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WINE CIRCLE

The Berrynarbor Wine Circle, which meets every third Wednesday in the month from October to May has

had two meetings since the last newsletter. In February, Nicola Keeble, Jill McCrae's daughter who lives in France, gave us an excellent presentation of wines from her area near Bergerac. She had obviously put a lot of work into it, giving us many details of wine production as well as choosing some superb wines for us to taste and all presented in a very professional, light hearted manner. Many thanks Nicola, you are welcome back anytime!

In March, we had a first visit from James Nancarrow, the manager of Majestic Wine Warehouse in Barnstaple. We have had previous visits from Majestic but these have been done by Paul his assistant manager whose enthusiasm has been rewarded by promotion to manager of another branch. Congratulations Paul.

James' theme for the evening was wines from Argentina and he certainly gave us some different wines to taste with examples of wine from not so well known grape varieties - Torrontes, Bonarda, and of course the Argentine speciality, Malbec. The latter he described as "a bit of an indulgence" and I think most people would agree wholeheartedly as it was on special offer, reduced from £26.00 to only [?] £22.00 per bottle! The consensus was that it was very nice but if the alternative was three bottles at £7.00 guess what the choice would be?

Our next meeting is on 21st April when our speaker will be

Brett Stevens from the Fabulous Wine Company. Brett is a real wine enthusiast and with a generous budget to work to will undoubtedly present us with some excellent wines to sample. In May the normal meeting is preceded by a short AGM - most years it takes all of 10 minutes - then our speaker for the evening will be the ever popular Jan Tonkin with his usual mix of wine knowledge and lively wit. Bound to be a fun evening.   Anyone wishing to attend is most welcome but if it will be your first time, please contact me beforehand on [01271] 883600.  

Tony Summers

 

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WINE CIRCLE

The Berrynarbor Wine Circle has had two meetings since the last newsletter, one in December and one on the 20th January. In December the theme was Christmas Food and Drink, where the ladies for each table got together to organise a starter, main course and dessert, while I, as the presenter for the evening, organised and described the wine. This arrangement is excellent as if it was the other way round and I organised the food . .. !

The wines provided covered those most people like to drink at the Festive Season, ranging from an alternative to Champagne, to Claret and Vintage Port, and a superb evening was had by all.  

In January we had a very different meeting - Call my Wine Bluff, a quiz loosely based on the old television show, but instead of having to identify obscure words, the teams of 6 had to identify the wine they were tasting, a much better idea.

 A panel of three 'experts [?]' , Geoff Adam, John Thorndycroft and Tony Summers, gave three different suggestions as to what the wine might be. The teams then had to decide who was giving the true description, the year of the wine and how much it cost. Points were awarded on a sliding scale according to how close to the year and price they were. At the end of the evening the 'Other Halves' [a team which included the wives of the panellists] were clear winners. Despite claims to the contrary, they had no prior knowledge of what was to be offered.

Next month will be a very interesting one as the guest speaker will be Jill McCrae's daughter, Nicola, who lives in France and will be giving a talk and tasting of wines from the area where she lives, close to Bergerac. Anyone wishing to join us will be most welcome but please contact me on 883600 beforehand.

Tony Summers

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WINE CIRCLE

The Christmas Food and Drink meeting is on 9th December, when members get together beforehand to organise food for a table of their friends. The theme is High Quality Wines for Christmas. Entrance is £6 for members and £7 for guests.

In January, on the 20th, we have our very popular panel game based on 'Call My Bluff', except ours is 'Call My Wine Bluff'. Each wine is offered for tasting as an anonymous covered bottle, when a panel of 3 experts [?] each give an explanation of what the wine is. Teams of 6 then have to decide who is telling the truth, what year the wine is and how much it has cost. Marks are gained on a sliding scale according to how accurate they are. If super confident about a wine, they can opt to play their joker, which doubles their points. An evening of much merriment.

Tony [Summers]

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Wine Circle's new season is about to start! The first meeting will be on Wednesday, 21st October when the presentation will be on Portuguese Wines by John Hood.

This wine appreciation group meets every third Wednesday in the month [except December when it is the second] in the Manor Hall at 8.00 p.m. from October to May, to further knowledge and enjoyment of wines by talks and tastings.

Anyone requiring more information or wishing to become a member is invited to contact either Alex Parke [Chairman] on 883758 or Tony Summers [Secretary] on 883600 at least 24 hours before the day of the meeting. This is to comply with licensing laws.

Future Meetings:

Wednesday, 18th November: Quay West Wines - Andy Cloutman
Wednesday, 9th December: Christmas Food and Drink
Wednesday, 20th January: 'Call My Wine Bluff'
Wednesday, 17th February: West of France Wines - Nicola Keeble

Lunch in Sidmouth

Members of the Wine Circle were delighted to receive a kind invitation to join Allan and Heather Maynard [who regularly attend the Circle] at their home in Sidmouth for a lunch in August. The invitation was extended to partners [whether they are members or not] and to bring your own booze - a light lunch would be provided, hopefully in their garden.

The day dawned dry with some sunshine and a small cavalcade of cars set off to drive from the north to south of Devon. Sadly, it was too cold to eat outside, but inside we were treated to a wonderful lunch with delicious sweets and cheese and biscuits, washed down with good wine and with everyone remembering not to imbibe too much, thinking of the drive back home. I must add that the view from their home and garden is spectacular, with view across Sidmouth and the sea, and I am sure that everyone will join me in thanking Allan and Heather for their hospitality and a wonderful day out.

Tom Bartlett - Publicity

Esplanade, Sidmouth, drawn from nature on stone by Geo. Rowe, 1826

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

For our April meeting, the ever popular Jan Tonkin once again presented us with an interesting and amusing evening with wines purchased from Majestic Wines in Barnstaple. Jan took the theme of 'how to afford your wine in a credit crunch' and all his offerings were bought on the basis of 'buy 2 save £3', or similar. However, when he said that 'for every three bottles bought you could have another one free with the savings', it was very tongue in cheek, as that would clearly be 'having one's cake and eating it'! A great fun evening.

At the May meeting, stalwart Pam Parke presented the theme 'The versatility of Grenache' [Garnache in Spain]. Pam explained how white, rose and full bodied red wines can all be made from the one grape variety!

Preceding the presentation and taking up minimal time, husband Alex chaired the AGM, when as usual he managed to agree the minutes of the last one, accept the resignation of the existing committee, elect a new one and officers and give both the Chairman's and Treasurer's Reports in less than quarter of an hour - we don't like infringing on wine tasting time, do we?

This meeting concluded our 2008-9 season and we shall start again next October after all the summer events have taken place. As usual the meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of the month at 8.00 p.m. in the Manor Hall, so put October 21st in your diary now.

Anyone wanting more information about the Wine Circle may contact me on [01271] 883600, or by e-mail to tony.veranos@gogglemail.com.

Tony Summers - Secretary

The Wine Circle was formed by Alan Richardson in 1989, meeting then in the Penn Curzon Room. The logo, designed at that time by Tom Bartlett, has been used ever since. Due to the popularity of the Circle, it soon moved to meet in the Manor Hall.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The February presentation by Majestic Wines was not to be - they had not put it in their diary! So, having purchased the wine and written the notes for the 'Call My Wine Bluff' evening, Tony brought this forward and a superb evening was had by all. It was great to see two teams play their jokers on the last round, full of confidence, only to get it wrong and get no score at all!

The March meeting was a resounding success with Jonathan Coulthard, owner and winemaker of the Domaine Gourdon vineyard in the Duras region of France, giving a really informative presentation. He bought and established the vineyard in 2003 and has concentrated on producing top quality wines, which certainly showed in the three white, one rose and two red wines sampled, together with French nibbles and sliced baguette. The slides he showed confirmed how well his vineyard was organised and just how involved he was through all the steps of wine production, from planting root stock to picking grapes and producing quality wines.

He was welcomed by Tony Summers, who had made all the arrangements for his visit and who gave the vote of thanks.

Jan Tonkin will be giving, much to his surprise, the presentation at our next meeting on the 15th April. Jan believes he will be a panel member on Call My Wine Bluff - could be interesting!

The May meeting on the 20th, will be the AGM, and the presentation to follow has still to be confirmed, but it looks as if it will be given by a committee member hopefully they won't all resign at the AGM!

The meetings take place in the Manor Hall at 8.00 p.m. and new members are always welcome. However, due to licensing laws, please contact Tony Summers on [01271] 883600 giving at least 24 hours' notice of your intention. Tom Bartlett - Publicity

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Wine Circle held its Christmas Food and Drink evening on the 10th December and once again it was a resounding success. The food was organised by the members, table by table, so that the food brought was plentiful and varied, with all tables finding themselves with a multi-course meal to accompany the wine. This side of the evening was organised and presented by one of our favourite presenters - Brett Stevens from the Fabulous Wine Company in Barnstaple. As always, his knowledge and enthusiasm was superb, as were the wines he presented for tasting.

For February, the presenters will be from Majestic Wines in Barnstaple and will be on the usual third Wednesday, the 18th. In March we have a change to our published programme as Jonathan Coulthard, winemaker and owner of the Domaine Gourdon vineyard in the Duras region of France will be our guest speaker.

Anyone wishing to join us is most welcome, but please contact me on [01271] 883600 beforehand.

Tony Summers - Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Berrynarbor Wine Circle commenced its new season of meetings in October but not without a bit of a hiccup!

We were all there at 8.00 p.m. ready to start but no presenter!   When it got to 8.15 p.m., it was clear that Jonathan Coulthard from Domaine Gourdon in France was not going to appear so emergency plans had to be called upon, namely Alex Parke and I returned home and raided our own supplies! Between us we rustled up a couple of bottles each of 6 different wines and returned to give an impromptu presentation and tasting. Whilst not as interesting, perhaps, as the slide show and local delicacy tastings that Jonathan was to have done, everyone seemed to have a good time and we certainly tasted some different wines.

The next day, having sent Jonathan an e-mail to find out what had happened, on the principle of belt and braces I found his telephone number in France and tried phoning. To my great relief, I did not have to rely on my French, which is very suspect, as his wife answered. She checked his calendar and said it was entered as 17th not the 15th, so I arranged for her to contact him in the UK to avoid him having a wasted journey. As it happened, no sooner did I put the phone down, than Jonathan rang, full of apologies. Having checked the e-mails he found that he had entered it incorrectly on his calendar. However, all is not lost, he is coming to the UK again in March and Pam has kindly agreed to give him the date she was going to present, giving her presentation later.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 10th December when we have our Christmas Food & Drink Evening for which the presenter is Brett Stevens, the knowledgeable and lively owner of the Fabulous Wine Company in Barnstaple.  It is sure to be an excellent evening with tastings of more expensive wines than usual ready for our Christmas purchases.

By now, if you are planning on coming you should have organised yourselves into tables of six and arranged who is doing what in the way of food for your table. If you haven't, please get cracking, there's not long to go!  If you have not been before and wish to come along, please contact me [883600] and I'll put you in touch with others with whom you can join.

Best Wishes, Tony S. 

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Berrynarbor Wine Appreciation Circle gets under way again shortly and I am pleased to report that we have a full and exciting programme lined up for members, but first a little background for those new to the area.

The wine Circle was started around 20 years ago by the late

Alan Richardson and has been continued since his death by a small group who got together and 'self elected themselves' to run the Circle for the first year. However, with a few variations, it is still the same group. Despite resigning each year at the AGM, they are then re-elected en-bloc. Either a sign that they are doing a good job or else that no-one else is prepared to put in the work!

The Wine Circle meets throughout the winter months, from October to May, on the third Wednesday of each month at 8.0 pm in the Manor Hall. Membership is still very cheap, just £3.00 per year, and the charge for each meeting to cover the cost of the wine, hiring the hall, etc., varies from between £4 and £7 according to the quality of the wines being presented. The Circle is non profit making.   We try to have professionals from within the wine trade whenever possible, with the remaining dates being presented by club members. The evening is a presentation and talk about the wines with normally six wines, three white and three red, to taste and discuss. There are no 'experts', just those who enjoy their wine and everyone is welcome to join. It is a lovely, relaxed way to spend a sociable winter evening amongst friends, and much cheaper than going to the pub!

Anyone wanting more information or wishing to join should contact me, the Secretary, on [01271] 883600 or by email to tony.veranos@googlemail.com. In fact I should appreciate all members who use the internet sending me a note to provide me with their email address as this would make communication so much easier now that most people are 'on-line'.

The Programme for the coming year, 2008-2009 is:

15th October - Jonathan Coulthard from Domain Gourdon, Duras, France, makes a return visit, perhaps with some local delicacies to taste as well.

19th November - The vineyards of Sussex and Surrey presented by new member Judith Adam.

10th December - Christmas Food and Drink with ever popular presenter,

Brett Stevens of the Fabulous Wine Company. Effectively a three-course meal and top quality wines for well under a tenner! Come to the earlier meetings to find out more.

2009

21st January - Our popular Quiz Show - Call my Wine Bluff.

18th February - The Majestic Wine Company - another regular favourite, but this year it will not be Paul, but James, his boss.

18th March - Pam Parke presents The Grenache Wines [or Garnacha if you are Spanish].

15th April - Regular favourite Jan Tonkin

20th May - Committee man Brian Wright presents 'South African Wines - are we overlooking a top quality source?'

I look forward to seeing you all again in October and hopefully a host of new members. Please don't forget the email addresses.

Tony Summers - Secretary

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

At the March meeting, Alex Parke gave an excellent presentation with some superb wines.

The April meeting, on the 16th, will be a presentation entitled "The Same but Different" and given by John Hood.

The May meeting, on the 21st, will be the Annual General Meeting, following by a presentation by Jan Tonkin, who is highly knowledgeable and always gives a lively and thought provoking meeting, with excellent, often unusual wines. This will be the last meeting for the 2007/8 season.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Christmas meeting on the 12th December was extremely well attended and proved to be a resounding success, under the able leadership and presentation given by our own Tony Summers. The food was plentiful and tasty and the evening more like a party than our normal meetings! Each table of six or twelve members having previously arranged what delicacies they would bring, meant that everyone participated instead of, as in the past, relying upon a lot of work by just a few members. Tony's selection of wines, champagne and port went down a treat and the evening closed with everyone wishing each other a happy and joyful Christmas.

Wineman's Bluff again proved popular and helped to cheer up what has been an extremely wet and miserable January. Chairman Alex gave a vote of thanks, in particular to Tony, but also to the remaining two members of the Panel; Tony added his thanks to Brett Stevens of the Fabulous Wine Company who had so ably assisted by providing all the wines and also some of the scripts for each of the three panellists to follow.

The February Meeting, on the 20th, will be a presentation by Andy Cloutman of Quay West Wines, and on Wednesday, the 19th March, Alex Parke will give a presentation. A warm welcome will be given to any new members who should contact the Secretary or Treasurer at least 24 hours before their first attendance. Meetings are held in the Manor Hall, commencing at 8.00 p.m.

Further information can be obtained from: Alex Parke [Chairman] on 883758, Tony Summers [Secretary] on 883600, Jill McCrae [Treasurer] on 882121 or Tom Bartlett [Publicity] on 883408.

Tom Bartlett

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Berrynarbor Wine Circle commenced its new season with a presentation from Majestic Wines of Barnstaple which was truly excellent. Paul Firman, Assistant Manager at the Barnstaple branch, displayed great enthusiasm, coupled with wide ranging knowledge of his subject. He presented the usual six wines for us to taste, three whites and three reds, but then finished by offering an Australian Dessert wine, a first for virtually everyone present. All were in agreement, however, that it would make an excellent accompaniment to mince pies or Christmas pudding at the end of Christmas Dinner and in fact had virtually all the flavours of Christmas pudding in alcoholic-liquid form.

December 12th [please note a week earlier than normal] sees the Christmas Food and Drink evening with wines selected and presented by myself. I hope I can match the earlier presenters with some interesting wines for the festive occasion. At the November meeting and for this meeting only, members will have grouped themselves into tables of 12 and organised jointly their starter, main course and dessert and hopefully a great time will be had by all.

In January, in response to many requests from members, we are repeating the wine quiz - "Call my Wine Bluff". This is based on the TV panel game "Call my Bluff" where three panellists give their interpretations of an obscure word and the other panel have to guess which of the three was telling the truth. In our version, the members, divided into teams, have a wine to taste from a covered bottle and then listen to three different explanations from the panel as to what they are tasting. They then have to decide which panellist is telling the truth, estimate the age of the wine and also its price. The team with the most points at the end of the evening wins a small prize.

If anyone wishes to join us for either the December or January meeting, we should be delighted to see them provided that they have contacted us to arrange membership at least 24 hours beforehand. We regret that to comply with licensing laws we cannot sell tickets at the door to members of the general public.

Tony Summers, Secretary [01271] 883600

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Wine Circle season is nearly upon us and we look forward to welcoming friends old and new to our monthly meetings.

For those new to the village, this is a wine appreciation society which meets every third Wednesday of the month [except December when it is the second] in the Manor Hall at 8.0 p.m. from October to May. The aim of the group is to further our knowledge and enjoyment of wines by talks and tastings.

Programme 2007/2008

October 17th Majestic of Barnstaple

November 21st Brett Stevens of The Fabulous Wine Company, Barnstaple

December 12th Christmas Food & Drink - presenter Tony Summers

January 16th Call My Wine Bluff - A new panel game!

The remainder of 2008 is yet to be completely organised as we are awaiting confirmation of their preferred dates from two of the presenters from within the wine trade but it will include favourites Andy Cloutman of Quay West Wines, committee member John Hood and the witty and innovative Jan Tonkin.

Presentations are informal, friendly and highly sociable occasions, which normally include a taste of six wines, three white and three red. Membership is £3.00 and meetings are normally £4.00, depending on the presentation. To comply with licensing regulations, it is important that anyone wishing to become a member gets in touch with either the Secretary of Treasurer at least 24 hours before the meeting they are attending.

Anyone requiring more information or wishing to become a member is invited to contact one of the following:

Alex Parke, Chairman 883758; Tony Summers, Secretary 883600 or Jill McCrae, Treasurer, 882121.

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

At the April meeting, Ruth Diggle gave an extremely knowledgeable presentation on English wines based upon Denbies Vineyard in Surrey, near Box Hill. She presented four white wines, one rose and ended with a red wine.

The final meeting for the season was held on 16th May and was preceded by the AGM. Alex Parke, Chairman of the Club, welcomed everyone and undertook to make the AGM as short as posssible, hopefully even beating his record of 9.5 minutes, set last year! He summarised the attendance records, income and expenditure as all being slightly up on last year. It was agreed that the cost of membership and pricing system for the monthly meetings remain unchanged and with no new nominations, the committee also remained unchanged. Alex thanked the committee for their work and closed the meeting in a new record time of 7.3 minutes!

The evening's presentation with wines selected by long standing friend of the Wine Circle, Jan Tonkin, was a wonderful way to end an excellent season.

The committee will now start planning for next season, which starts on the third Wednesday in October and then meets on the third Wednesday of each month through to May 2008. Anyone who likes wine and enjoys an excellent social evening with like-minded friends, tasting and learning more about wines, is welcome to join us. A better value, friendly, social evening is hard to envisage! Contact either Tony Summers [Secretary] on 883600 or Alex Parke [Chairman] on 883758 for more information and inclusion on the mailing list. Or alternatively, e-mail Tony at tony@veronas.freeserve.co.uk.

Tom and Tony

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The February meeting was a great success with Brett Stevens of the Fabulous Wine Company giving a presentation, which included wines from Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and California. All members felt the Brett's presentation and choice of wines was superb and every single wine he presented was given a star rating by all present.

March saw James Nancarrow of Majestic Wines presenting two excellent white wines from Marlborough, New Zealand, followed by three reds from Rioja, Spain and finishing with a fortified [17%] red desert wine also from Spain.

Members are now looking forward to the next meeting on 18th April when our own Ruth Diggle will be giving a knowledgeable presentation on Denbies Vineyard. Then on Wednesday, 16th May, we have the short AGM to be followed by a presentation by Jan Tonkin as the final meeting of the current season.

Tom Bartlett - Publicity Officer

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

Despite running for over 16 years, the Christmas meeting saw a first for the Circle when we had a vineyard owner visit us from France and give a talk and tasting of his wines. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about wine from the other side of the fence - that of the grower and producer. Jonathan Coulthard gave up his career as a civil engineer, bought up a run-down vineyard in the Duras region, not far from Bergerac, and set about renovating both vines and buildings. He brought us six wines to taste, two white, two rose and two red. The earliest vintage being a red from his first season 2003, which was absolutely excellent, drinking well now with potential to continue improving for several years. The Wine Circle is now awaiting delivery of a large order which they placed with him for personal supplies! TS

The January meeting was a resounding success with our first ever "Wine Man's Bluff'. Seven teams of six members had to identify the correct description for each of six wines sampled. Our panel of three experts, Tony, Brian and John, were referred to as A, B and C and made the evening memorable! The winning team, named 'Piston Broke', each went home with a bottle of Shiraz.

The next two meetings, on the 21st February and 21st March, will be presentations, by Brett Stevens of the Fabulous Wine Company and James Nancarrow of Majestic Wines respectively.

New members will be warmly welcomed but, due to licensing regulations, it is important to contact the Secretary or Treasurer at least 24 hours before your first meeting.

Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at 8.00 p.m. at the Manor Hall. Further information can be obtained from the Secretary, Tony Summers 883600.

Tom Bartlett - Publicity [883408]

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The November meeting was presented by the ever popular Barney Dunstan from Laithwaites Direct Wines Ltd, the people who run the Sunday Times Wine Club and many others. If you encounter a mail order wine club it is usually run by Laithwaites!. Barney is undoubtedly a natural speaker and extremely knowledgeable about wine. He is also very amusing and kept us laughing all night with comparisons of the meeting with his present day job as a Biology Teacher at a secondary school. When someone's mobile phone went off he went into school mode and asked the "boy" responsible to hand it over, it would be returnable at the end of term!

Our next meeting is on the second Wednesday of the month,

13th December, as usual for the December meeting as it would otherwise clash with Christmas. This is a combined wine and food meeting and this year those attending are expected to bring along, either alone or in conjunction with others they will sit with, whatever food they wish to consume. They should also bring along their own cutlery and crockery. Tickets, from Jill McCrae or Tony Summers, are £6.00

  This meeting will be presented by a vintner from France.

Jonathan Coulthard is the English owner and wine maker of a vineyard in the Duras region of France inland from Bordeaux, who is visiting England to promote his wines.

  In January 17th [back to the third Wednesday of the month], we are having a new style presentation "Call My Wine Bluff". This will be a panel game with the members divided into teams trying to decide which panelist is bluffing and which telling the truth.

Tony

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

The Wine Circle, which was formed in 1988, meets during the months October to May at the Manor Hall.

The evenings, which are usually on the third Wednesday of the month [December is always the second], start at 8.00 p.m. Membership is £3.00 and meetings are normally £4.00 per person, depending on the presentation.

A warm welcome will be given to all new members and if you would like more information, please contact: Alex Parke [Chairman] on 883758, Tony Summers [Secretary] on 883600, Jill McCrae [Treasurer] on 882121 or Tom Bartlett [Publicity] on 883408.

The Programme up to Christmas is:

18th October: Avery's Alternatives - presentation by John Hood

15th November: Presentation by Barney Dunstan of Laithwaites

13th December: Christmas Presentation by Jonathan Coulthard, Domaine Gourdon - vineyard owner and wine maker from the Duras region, inland from Bordeaux

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

At the April meeting, our own member Ruth Diggle gave a wonderful presentation on the Rothschild World of Wine and showed how the Rothschilds were producing wines from all over the world. All six wines sampled were well received by members and her knowledge of the subject made for an extremely enjoyable evening.

Following the AGM, when the Committee were re-elected en block, the May meeting, in the hands of Brian Wright, was also excellent. Brian presented some superb wines, both red and white, from Argentina.

This was the last meeting for the 2005-6 season, meetings will recommence in October and details of the 2006-7 season will appear in the August and October Newsletters.

Tom

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BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE

April and May will be the last two meetings of the Wine Circle for the current 'Season'. The Circle next meets on WEDNESDAY, 19TH APRIL when we travel to France! No, not really, but Ruth Diggle will be presenting 'The Rothschild World of Wine'. The May meeting, on WEDNESDAY, 17TH MAY will be the Annual General Meeting, which only takes a short time, after which Brian Wright will give a presentation on 'Wines from Australia'. The new Season commences in October.

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