Tasting Reviews

The Oxford Wine Club maintains a record of Club tastings, which include tasting notes for those wines served. Tastings are reviewed in an informal but we hope informative manner by Club members.

You can access our record of Club tasting notes by clicking on the links or using the search facility below.

New Wave Burgundy Reds

Jasper Morris

Jasper opened with the stark reality that currently mature Burgundy is somewhat of a rarity in-country, stating that even when eating out, 2019 is about the best you can find at the moment on wine lists. All the wines that we tasted this evening are from either 2017 or 2018 current Vintages and are from 6 appellations. Both of these Vintages are considered ‘hot years’ and Jasper’s brief summary of the significant challenges facing producers in this region in the light of climate change have been brought sharply in to focus in the last 3 years - vines have been dying off on some of the more drought-prone Terroirs, healthy trees have died and even beehives have died due to the heat. The age-old debate of irrigation has been brought to the fore once again of course. Classic Burgundian rootstocks just aren't working any more in the context of the more extreme and prolonged droughts and hot weather. The more mature vines have deeper root systems and seem to have survived the recent droughty years of 2018 and 2019-20 however the very rapid/accelerating change in weather patterns and climate taking place here is understandably worrying growers.

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Unico Zelo

Brendan Carter

What happens when you stop irrigating your vines in the Adelaide Hills? Some varieties die. Those which survive adapt and produce grapes with concentrated flavours, moreish acidity and moderate alcohol, and which reflect the terroir. Brendan and Laura Carter launched Unico Zelo (Unique Zeal or Passion) in 2013 with two aims. The first was to be industry leaders in best practice viticulture and winemaking in the Australian wine industry through lower water use in the vineyard and minimal intervention practices in the winery; the second, to discover the real terroir of Australia. 

The hugely committed, entertaining and energetic Brendan took us through the trials and tribulations of bucking the Australian industry norms to produce some fantastic and unique wines and at the same time continuously working to improve sustainability.

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The Epic Wines of the Canary Islands

Santo Baines

We were delighted to welcome Santo Bains to lead us on an exploration of the wines of the Canary Islands. For many of us a new experience and for those that have already visited the Canary Islands a bit of an eye opener as these high-end wines do not appear to be widely distributed throughout the islands. Even here they are found in niche markets, popular with sommeliers, wanting unusual premium high-end wines on their lists. By all accounts they are exceptionally good value in the Canary Islands and worth seeking out if there on holiday.

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New Wave Burgundy

Jasper Morris MW

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘New Wave Burgundy’ tasting led for the Club by Jasper Morris MW on Monday 12th April was revelatory.

The tasting featured six white wines chosen by Jasper as personal favourites from a range of merchants. These were all less expensive, less well-known wines that “couldn’t be made better”. In other words, made by winemakers who’ve “got the touch”. Top end Burgundy has now passed beyond the budgets of most of us but – came the clear message – all is not lost. Climate change, the greater effort put in by younger generations of winemakers and the increasing market pressure for wines made to be drunk younger have all contributed to these new wave successes. Take note, for here are names to reckon with in the future.

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Call my (Wine) Bluff!

Our Call My Bluff tastings haven’t been running quite as long as I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue but they generate a nearly equivalent charge of wit, ingenuity and fabulous stories (in every sense of the word) from our Three Bluffers: Richard Bampfield MW, Michael Palij MW and Jonathan Pedley MW. Not only that but this occasion was graced with our very own ‘Samantha’ totting up the scores…

Jonathan, unshaven since the start of lockdown sported a remarkable ‘yeard’ that reminded members of a rather mischievous Old Testament prophet. Richard, with Stellenbosch (twinned with Basingstoke – not) as his backdrop was his usual elegantly charming self, while Michael, as always, brought authority, gravitas and far-flung travels to the party.

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Club Social Evening

Graham, Richard and Gina

On Monday 8th March, the Club held a virtual social event for members. A ‘bring your own wine’ event by necessity featured some tasty tipples (which we won’t specify to avoid jealousy), some dramatic wine (and ‘not wine’) experiences, a quick round of wine and food matching and lots of social chat in the Breakout Rooms.

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An evening with Katie Jones of Domaine Jones

Katie Jones

It was another virtual tasting. Yet the warmth of Katie Jones’ personality shone through a night of old vines, human stories of love and struggle … and some great wines.

Talking to us from her ‘Station winery’ in the village of Tuchan on the Languedoc Roussillon border, Katie started her story with her 926 mile drive from Ashby-de-la-Zouch to Tuchan – think wild boar, hunters’ bullet holes in the road signs, rugby and wine to get the feel for the locality. There she began a fifteen year stint developing the international sales of the dynamic local co-op run by her now-husband Jean-Marc Astruc.

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Wines of the French Alps

Wink Lorch

Wink is an educator, writer and (self)-publisher who specialises in the wines of the Jura and the Savoie, where she lives part of the year. In a tour de force of an evening Wink took us through a very knowledgeable and enjoyable tour of the wines of Savoie and Bugey. Thought of as high in altitude, Savoie and Bugey are no higher at 200-500m than nearby French regions such as Alsace (or even the Haut Cotes de Nuit) and, with climate change, there is now no problem of ripening grapes, though frost and hail are still threats. Grown predominantly on glacier soil over limestone, the distinctiveness of these wines is mainly due to the unusual grape varieties which are grown there and which may be a consequence of only joining France from Savoy (Italy) in 1860. The Alps have always been a crossroads and the monasteries established here in the medieval period identified (as they so often did) the best terroirs.

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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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