The third wine club meeting of the 2022 calendar took place on the usual third Wednesday of the month, on 16th March. Attended by approximately 20 of our club members, this was a smaller turnout than usual, which meant slightly more generous samples of the delicious wine on offer throughout the evening (and more headaches the next morning, perhaps!).
The theme of the night was “The Judgement of Paris”; for those unfamiliar with the wine connection to this phrase (as opposed to the story from Greek Mythology), the Judgement of Paris was a wine competition organised in Paris in May 1976 by Stephen Spurrier, a British wine merchant, and his colleague Patricia Gallagher, in which French judges carried out two blind tasting comparisons; one of top quality chardonnays and another of red wines (Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California). In every category, the Californian wines came out top, which greatly shocked the judges, as France was at the time considered to be the foremost producers of the world’s best wines.
And so, to the Judgement of Upton. Eight bottles of wine, including four white and four red, and half from France and half from California, were brilliantly presented by the dynamic duo Ian Langley and Brian Rippon, from the wine club committee. Over four rounds, two bottles at a time were sampled and compared by being labelled as A and B, to enact our own blind tasting. The wines were all supplied by the Wine Society and were similarly priced, so the task was to see which one’s members preferred.
Round 1 involved two Viogniers: a 2020 McManis Viognier from California and a 2021 Grignan-les-Adhemar, Viognier from Domaine de Montine, in France. The Californian is a rich, velvety white wine with peach, pear and apricot aromas and could be paired easily with fish curry, prawns, scallops or a melon starter (random!). The French wine, from Southern Rhone, is a creamy, full- flavoured Viognier with peace and exotic guava flavours. Very ripe and full-flavoured, it is said to go perfectly with fish or duck pate. With only 45p separating the two wines in price (£11.95 and £11.50 respectively), both wines present good value for money.
Round 2 involved two Chardonnays: a 2020 Bogle Vineyward California Chardonnay and a 2020 Domaine Andre Bonhomme from the Macon-Villages Vielles Vignes in France. The Californian is 50% aged in American Oak for eight months to give a rich vanilla and nutmeg spice. The other half is aged in steel to retain the fresh peach and lemon character. It is 14.5% alcohol and priced at £12.50 and is best paired with children dishes prawns and beef carpaccio. The Domaine Andre Bonhomme (13.5%) is a ripe yet refreshing burgundy with aromas of white peaches and a balanced palate with a long finish for a wine of this price (£12.50 also).
We then moved onto the reds. Round 3 involved two Pinot Noirs: The Society’s Exhibition Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2019 (Californian) and a Reuilly Rouge ‘Les Demoiselles Tatin’, from the Domaines Tatin in France, 2019. The former is a vibrant and bright red fruity wine that you’d expect from the fog-cooled yet sunny Sonoma Coast in California. At 13.5% in alcohol volume and £14.95 in price, the wine goes well with rabbit dishes, roast beef, veal and cold meats. The French wine is a delightful Central Vineyards Pinot Noir from a ripe Loire vintage. Again, another one that can be paired with cold meats, rabbit and veal, but also with ham, salmon and wild mushrooms. Versatile and a snip at £12.50.
The final two wines of the night were of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Merlot variety. The first was a 2015 Chateau Tour Saint Bonet, Medoc (13.5%), a ruby-red coloured, medium- bodied wine from a consistently good Bordeaux estate; it has a bouquet of cassis and cedar and is made from Cabernet- Merlot grapes. The second wine was the 2019 Californian Pedroncelli Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5%). This wine has blackberry, blackcurrant and mulberry flavours which are well- balanced by subtle cedar and vanilla notes. Both wines are great value (£13.50 and £11.95 respectively) and on the night, were paired with pieces of delicious chorizo.
A vote by a show of arms was undertaken throughout the evening, with the Californian wines overall coming out on top again, although there was of course some divided opinion! A fantastic, informative enjoyable evening was had by all.