Liberate your taste buds!

Richard Kelly MW

On 24th November, The Club’s third virtual tasting hosted Richard Kelley MW, his seventh visit to the Club we reckoned. But this time he revealed his super power as Rick ‘The Liberator’. Modestly, he reckons his talent is no more than ‘finding the new talent’ but by the end of a fascinating evening we knew better.

In his guise as the ‘Liberator’, Rick draws on his deep knowledge of South African wine to truffle out barrels of wine that have been overlooked because the quantity is too small or their taste profile doesn’t fit the winery’s current blend. Working closely with the winemaker, Rick turns them into ‘Episodes’ or ‘Special Editions’. He’s now up to Episode 30 and his wines can be found through the Wine Society, or independents such as Lay & Wheeler.

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The Terroirs of Saint-Emilion

Jane Anson

Speaking to us from her home in Bordeaux, Jane Anson, Decanter magazine’s Bordeaux correspondent and on-line commentator of the year, took us through the terroirs of Saint-Émilion, while tasting a selection of six wines* carefully chosen to illustrate the various facets of the terroir and the wine makers’ art. For the first time, OWC members were able to purchase and have tasting-sized samples delivered to their homes, prepared by specialist suppliers Avino from wines generously supplied by the Southern Chancellor of Saint-Émilion and fellow club member Gerald Sachs.

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Celler Alimara Virtual Tasting

Andy & Ali McLeod

With live wine tastings still on hold since February, the Club braved the bullet and arranged its first in what will probably become a series of virtual tastings held by ‘Zoom’.  Club members and 2019 presenters Ali and Andy McLeod of Celler Alimara vineyards and winery in Catalonia volunteered to act as guinea pigs for this our first foray into the world of online tastings. Fabulous wines - and nice people...

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The man from Decanter he say yes! - great wines chosen by a great writer

John Stimpfig

John Stimpfig revisited the club on a cold and damp Thursday evening in February for a memorable tasting themed ‘The Man from Decanter he say yes! - great wines chosen by a great writer’.

John’s earlier career was in marketing and PR (so he would surely approve of the tasting title?). It also included stints at the FT and our familiar friend, the Oxford Times. So how did he get into wine in the first place? It may sound clichéd, but he took a year out in Australia around the time that their wine was really coming into its own.  Before going, he decided to sample some classic fine wines as a kind of exceedingly short and intense crash course. He chose a Chablis and a Châteauneuf du Pape (and the rest was history!). While Down Under, he fell in love with the Hunter Valley and South Australia, and when he got back he somehow fell in love with the WSET, going on to achieve the Diploma! He became a highly-awarded wine writer. Since 1993, he has won a range of prestigious awards for his writing from such as Louis Roederer, Lanson and Glenfiddich. John is clear that he sees himself as a journalist with a passion for wine and the story therein, rather than as a critic.

In what was essentially a desert island wines (John pointed out that he could never narrow it down to  fewer than eight in such a scenario as he wouldn’t get off the boat otherwise, and thus has no singular Desert Island Wine to speak of), we tasted sparkling, white, red and botrytised wines spanning a range of styles.

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A Pinot Noir and Riesling Taste Off

with Richard Bampfield MW

Well known to the Club and a stalwart of the ‘Call my Bluff’ evenings, Richard Bampfield introduced the tasting by confessing that for long periods he had not tasted Rieslings, indeed to such an extent that when he led a visit to Alsace some years ago, one attendee commented that Richard did not know much about the wine! However, in the intervening years he had begun to appreciate greatly the qualities of Riesling and Pinot Noir, in their differing expressions. Richard had recently visited both the Mosel and New Zealand, so his interest in and enthusiasm for these areas directed his selections for the tasting.

The tasting was structured to show the differing aspects of Riesling and Pinot Noir and how they will reflect the terroir, if the winemakers allow the grapes to do so. Richard commented that Riesling is the wine that ‘professionals drink and no one else understands’!

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Rise of the Catalan Independents

Andy McLeod

It all started with wine-making in Wantage but now Andy and Ali McLeod make and sell wine in Catalonia’s Terra Alta an hour or so south of Barcelona. Nice journey!

Andy and Ali’s story unfolded at the Wine Club on a cool November evening in the Cherwell Boathouse Marquee, with the aid of some excellent wine – both from the McLeod’s ‘Celler Alimara’ (www.celleralimara.com) and from some of the distinguished independents whose wines they now distribute and sell in the UK.

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Madeira – the best-kept vinous secret?

Geoff and Pam Coles

It may be a secret but it’s also a something of a miracle. Madeira is a wine produced 300 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean on an island the size of the Isle of Wight; a wine that became the centre of a global trade hundreds of years ago; a wine that can age and improve for a century or more in cask and, once in bottle, is impervious to oxidation.

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‘Bordeaux: Pauillac and Pomerol: more in common than one might think’

presented by Jane Anson

Everyone lucky enough to attend agreed! The opening event of the Club’s 2019-2020 season was a tour de force, a triumph, a fabulous tasting. Jane Anson (@newbordeaux) gave us a masterclass in the wines of Pomerol and Pauillac; seasoning great wines with profound learning, sparkling wit and deep respect for the human stories behind each of her selections.

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Our Summer Eztravaganza

with Roger Jones at The Harrow, Little Bedwyn

Summertime and another Roger and Sue spectacular for the Club at the Harrow. It was all just as we might have ordered: a packed house, a beautiful warm evening, and the full benefit Harrow hospitality.

In the marquee that had been the setting for a Decanter tasting a few days before, we were seated at long tables and put through our blind tasting skills.

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The History of Champagne in Seven Bottles

presented by Dr Graham Harding

It is always a delight to be enchanted by someone who is passionate about their subject and who is, in addition, an expert with unparalleled knowledge. We were given hidden insights and a thorough appreciation of the changing styles of wine called Champagne, since its origins in the seventeenth century. So it was at the first tasting of the year on 29thJanuary 2019 when our own Graham Harding demonstrated the irresistible allure of the golden elixir.

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