MasonWe have two Wine Appreciation groups now. Both run the same way. The groups will meet in an informal friendly environment to discuss and enjoy wine.
Group Coordinators:
Derek Harwood (click to contact regarding Wine Appreciation1) &
Barry Mason (click to contact regarding Wine Appreciation 2)


Each Group meets once a month; WineApp1 meets on the first Wednesday in the month, WineApp2 meets the third Tuesday of each month; both meet from 18.00 until 20.00 ish;

At a member's house in Islington.

The Wine Appreciation groups function as follows:

  • There will be one group membership covering Wine Appreciation Groups 1 & 2.
  • It will meet monthly.
  • It will meet in members’ houses (possibly on a rotational basis).
  • There will be a theme selected by the group members (in advance), eg Loire wines.
  • Both Groups will cover the same theme per month. Members of each session will not necessarily bring along the same wines.
  • There will be a sign-up for each session with the limit set at the first 10 (with a waiting list). A minimum of eight members will be necessary for each session to meet.
  • If one session is full members will be invited to attend the other session subject to room being available.
  • Coordinators will take it in turns to prepare the notes on the region/category/country.                  
  • Members can only sign up for one session per month.
  • Five of these will be invited to bring a bottle.
  • A guideline price will be given (probably £8.00 to £10.00 per bottle).
  • The person bringing the bottle will be expected to have researched the providence and present to the Group.
  • Nibbles will be provided by hosts (costs recoverable).
  • Each person attending will pay £10 a session to cover all costs. Members bringing a bottle will hence get costs back, as will host for the food. Any surplus will be carried forward towards a special evening open to all group members.
  • Outings for meals or to vineyards could be considered by the Group.

You don't need any prior expertise in wine tasting but it is expected that you will have to do some pre-work for each session to support group discussion on the chosen wine topic.

If you are interested in joining this group, please sign into the Beacon members' system here, then under Groups, find and click on Wine Appreciation. There you will see the option of joining online. Please provide your details there. Once you've registered for the group you will receive further information through emails. Or you can send me an email — to the email account link at the top of this page.

Future Sessions
The full lookahead date information is now visible in the new 'Beacon' members' system. The link to Beacon for iU3A members is here. Once you've clicked there, sign in with your personal details, then on the Home page click on 'Calendar of meetings and events'. You'll see all groups listed there; at the top line next to 'Group', in the gap select the drop-down menu arrow; scroll down
to Wine Appreciation, click that, then only the dates for the Wine Appreciation group will be shown. 

However the next term dates are also shown here with the chosen theme:

  • WA2: Tuesday 17 September (sign up open): Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir
  • WA1: Wednesday 02 October (sign up open): Pinot Grigio & Gamay
  • WA2: Tuesday 15 October (sign up open): ?? & Gamay

Sign-up for each session will become open about a month before the actual session's date.

Our Recent Meetings
September: this month WA1 chose to sample Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir grape varieties. General notes on these are available here (for Sauvignon Blanc) and here (for Pinot Noir). Wines tasted (with our ratings) were:

  • Pinot Noir,  El Viejo del Valle, 2017, 13%, Highbury Vintners, 3.5
  • Pinot Noir, French, Olivier Dubois, 12.5%, Waitrose, 4.2
  • Pinot Noir, Australian, 'Last Batch', 12.5%, Waitrose, 2.8
  • California, Pinot Noir, 2016, 14%, 3.9
  • Sauvignon and Picpoul, French, 12%, 2017, Majestic, 3.8
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Goldwater, 12.5%, NZ, Majestic, 3.2

WA2 were tasting Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. You can find the general notes for Pinot Grigio here.

August: for this month we decided that, rather than select a country or region, we'd select a wine variety (or two). Therefore WA1 picked Savignon Blanc and Shiraz and WA2 picked Pinot Grigio and Shiraz.

For WA1: On the day the wine brought and sampled was only one Sauvignon Blance and five Shiraz, so we couldn't do any comparsion on the white but we did get a good range on the reds. These were two French, one Australian, one New Zealand, one Bulgarian and one Chilean. See below for the specifics and our scores for those wines tasted.
Also you can see general notes prepared on these varieties here(Sau. Blanc) & here (Shiraz) .

  • Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 4.0
  • Domaine Les Yeuses, Syrah Les Epices, 2016, France, 3.6
  • Bulgarian Shiraz, Zagreus St. Dimitar 2017, 3.9
  • Casillero del Diablo Shiraz, Chile, 3.0
  • McGuigan — Founder's Series — Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016, 4.4
  • Shiraz, La Croix du Pin, Pays D'Oc, 3.0

Wines tasted at WA2 this month were as follows (with a rating mark out of 5):

  • 120 Riserva Especial, 2018, £8.99, Sauvignon Blanc, Chile/Central Valley, Majestic, 3.1
  • Chanteloupe Sauvignon Blanc, 2018, £9.99, Sauvignon Blanc, France/Loire, Waitrose, 2.7
  • Angels Share Two Hands, 2018, £17.99, Shiraz, Australia/Mclaren Vale, Majestic, 4.1
  • False Bay Old School, 2018, £9.00, Syrah, South Africa, Highbury Vintners, 3.8
  • Les 3 Lys Crozes Hermitage, 2017, £10.00, Syrah, France/Croze Hermitage, Sainsburys, 3.6

July, Australian: general wine notes of the area can be viewed here.  Wines tasted at WA1 this month were as follows (with a rating mark out of 5):

  • The Listening Station, Chardonnay, Victoria, 4.5, wine tasting notes here 
  • Viognier, Organic, Yalumba, South Australia, 4.2, wine tasting notes here 
  • Morala, Grenache. South Australia, 4.0, wine tasting notes here 
  • Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Coonawarra, 4.6
  • Shiraz, 2017, South Australia, 4.6, wine tasting notes here

Wines tasted at WA2 this month were as follows (with a rating mark out of 5):                                     

  • d'Arenburg McLaren Vale SR, £9.45, 2017, Riesling + Sauvignon, 3.4, notes here
  • Watervale Clare Valley Co. Riesling, £10.99, 2018, Riesling, 4.2, notes here               
  • Baily & Baily Adelaide Hills, £8.99, 2017, Pinot Noir, 3.7, notes here                 
  • Parker Favourite Son Cab. Sauv., £8.99, 2016, Cabernet, 4.0, notes here                              
  • Atkins Farm McLaren Vale Shiraz, £9.99, 2017, Shiraz, 3.9, notes here   

At Highbury VintnersJune, various, blind tasting at Highbury Vintners: we had our special outing to a local wine shop in June. 19 of us from our two wine appreciation groups enjoyed sampling four grape varieties, two wines of each — one new world, one old world. All served blind — with some cheese and salamis provided. I think most of us were embarrassed about our lack of knowledge, so most of our answers were just (educated?) guesses. However it was great fun and no one cared how we did. Our two guides from the shop were very helpful, considerate and knowledgable. For a bit of extra fun our efforts were scored and a prize given to the incredulous winner! 

May, German: general wine notes of the area can be viewed here.  Wines tasted at WA1 this month were as follows (with a rating mark out of 5). Wine tasting notes can be viewed here.

  • Waitrose Dry German Riesling, Mosel, 3.6
  • Loosen Bros 2017 Grey Slate Riesling, Mosel, 4.0
  • Weisser Burgunder, Pinot Blanc, Baden, 2017, 4.0
  • Dominik Meyer, Pinot Blanc, Pfalz, 2017, 3.6
  • Bender, Pinot Noir, Pfalz, 3.2

Portuguese winesApril, Portuguese: Wines tasted at WA2 this month were as follows (with a rating mark out of 5). General wine notes of the area can be viewed here. Wine tasting notes can be viewed here.

  • Varzea Vinho Verde £7.99, 2018 Vinho Verde, 3.7.                     
  • Quinto de Fafide Reserve (Duoro) £10, 2016 Blend of Native Grapes, 3.2                    
  • Maias Branco (Dao)  £12.5, 2017 Malvasia, Encruzado, 4.2, see the notes for this wine here.                    
  • Terrace do Sado (Peninsula de Setubal), £9, 2017 Aragonez and Syrah, 4.2            
  • Qunta de Noval LBV Port (Duoro)£12, 2004 Blend of Native Grapes 3.9 

PorugueseApril, Portuguese: General notes on Portugal available here.
Wines tasted at WA1 this month were as follows:

  • Planalto White Reserva 2017 Douro. See tasting notes here.
  • The Wine Foundry Avesso, Vinho Verde. See tasting notes here.
  • Red, Quinta de Fafide. See tasting notes here soon.
  • ‘Ciconia’, Aragonez grape, from Alentejano. See tasting notes here.
  • Madeira, Sainsbury's own supply. See tasting notes here soon.

March, New Zealand: General notes on New Zealand available here.
Wines tasted at WA2 this month were as follows (with a 'liked' rating of 1 to 5):

  • Oyster Bay Chardonnay 2017 (2.8). See tasting note here.
  • Black Cottage Pinot Gris 2018 (3.6).
  • Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (3.5). See tasting note here.
  • Ara Pinot Noir 2018 (2.4). See tasting note here.
  • Villa Maria Merlot 2017 (3.0). See tasting note here.

Wines tasted at WA1 this month were as follows:

  • The Ned, Sauvignon Blanc, 2018. See tasting note here.
  • The Ned, Pinot Grigio, 2018. See tasting note here.
  • Ara, Pinot Gris. See tasting note here.
  • Jackson Estate Homestead, 2017, Pinot Noir (Marlborough).

February, Chilean wines: this month it was Chilean wines that we studied and sampled. At WA1 (Wine Appreciation Group 1) we had one white, three reds, and a dessert wine. General notes are here. Wines were as follows with links to the notes:

  • Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc, here
  • Pinot Noir, here
  • Pintao 2016 Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley, here
  • Diablo Red Valle del Maule 
  • Vistamar, Moscatel, Limari Valley, 2016, here

At WA2 the wines reviewed were:

  • Cono Sur 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley
  • Tierra de las Picos Merlot 2018 Central Valley
  • Bodegas Volcanes Carmenere 2017 Rapel Valley
  • MontGras Carmenere 2018 Valle de Colchagua
  • Santa Rita Merlot 2017 Central Valley

January, Burgundy: we sampled three whites and two reds. We had to relax the price cap for the wines from region, so they drifted up to a max of £15.00 a bottle. But one of the whites was obtained for £8.99. To find out general information of the area look here. Notes for the specific wines tasted are as follows:

  • Macon-Villages 2016 — Les Pierres Blanches, Chardonnay, here
  • Macon-Villages 2016 — G Bouchon, Chardonnay, here
  • Macon Aze 2017 — Louis Jadot, here
  • Albert Bichot Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune 2016, here
  • Chorey-les-Beaune 2016, here

Howard's additional information from his personal experiences of the area provided additional entertainment for the evening. There was agreement that the best Pinot Noir is not from France these days but Oregon!

December: we reviewed three white and two red South African wines at this very enjoyable session. There was debate about whether Walker Bay was Western or Eastern Cape WO. All the others were definitely Western Cape designation. See the general notes to explain the regions and general overview of South African wines here. Maybe the most interesting fact about the three whites was their names: Goats Do Roam, Secret Cellar & Primordial Soup, the first two slightly sweet, the last drier. We had interesting discussions on labels as well. It was then time for snacks these included biltong (dried meat), a South African speciality from one of the group and some cheese brought back from the recent iU3A Outing to the Christmas Market in Brussels. We then moved to the reds. The first, with another interesting name Flotsam & Jetsam was a pinotage (a grape variety of South African origin): fruity but quite light. We concluded with a a full bodied red from Marc Kent, Swartland, by the reviews not as good as his first creation The Chocolate Block. And of course a South African evening had to be finished off with some Amarula (a liqueur made from the local marula berry). Thanks again to the researchers for selecting a bottle and sharing the knowledge about that bottle with the rest of us. 

November: this time our session theme was Spanish wines. We had five wines this time, two whites, a rosé and two reds. The whites were both from the Galicia region (NW corner of Spain), both using the Albarino grape variety. They were similar but the 'Medusa' was judged as slightly drier. The rosé was actually from Gran Canaria, hand-carried back by Christine. We couldn't pick up the 'volcanic ash' taste supposed to be left on the palate — mainly as none of us knew what volcanic ash tasted like! The two reds were from the Rioja region (North Central). One was a Gran Reserva: aged for at least two years in oak and three in the bottle; the other was a Reserva: aged for a minimum of three years at least one of which is in oak. Both were fairly full-bodied but not heavy, the Gran Reserva being favoured highest. All our wines chosen were in the top 8% of all world wines — good choices, appreciated by all. An attempt was made to finish the session with a Spanish sweet dessert wine but this (a Manzanilla) turned out to be basically a white sherry, and not a sweet one. Good probably as chilled aperitif, but not as a dessert wine. For some of the research notes from the evening click on: general, white, rosé , rioja1 & rioja2. We also learned that there were more than 10,000 grape varieties around the world! Many tastings yet to follow.....

October: the theme for our first meeting was 'Italian Wines'. To start we had two good bottles of Orvieto from the Umbrai region but with different grape combinations, so this gave us a chance to taste the different effect this can have on the same 'type' of wine. We then moved to the reds and started with a good Nero D'Avola from Sicily, Palermo — full-bodied and quite fruity, enjoyed by all of us. But the star of the night was our 4th, a Tuscan red — Psyco. We were all in raptures about this one. Very deep and full bodied — see the detailed tasting note here. Then we rounded off the evening with some Vin Santo and biscotti. The wine was accompanied by some Italian style nibbles to help absorb some of the alcohol and we had three excellent presentations from Neil, Howard and Julia. All in all we felt this was a good start for this group.




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