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.

Chene Bleu

Nicole Rolet

Introducing Nicole Rolet and the biodynamic wines of Chêne Bleu, Hilary Reid Evans commented that when they purchased the derelict property in 1993, neither Nicole nor her husband Xavier had any prior experience of wine making or the wine trade. During the intervening period, the reputation of the wines of Chêne Bleu has grown year on year and have been described as the ‘world’s first super Rhônes’ by the Wall Street Journal and have gathered the highest Parker scores for their reds as well as Jancis Robinson’s highest ever scores for their rosés.  Not so much a rising star as a ‘shining star in the wine making firmament’.

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Age-worthy Italian whites

Michael Palij


In the world of wine, Italian whites have all too often been seen as the ‘poor cousins’. Thirty years ago it was Lambrusco and raffia-covered flasks of Chianti that dominated the charts. Then came ‘killer Bs’ of northern and central Italy and – for the fully sophisticated the glittering allure of the ‘super-Tuscans.

Have we moved on? Yes, a bit, thanks in considerable part to our President Michael Palij MW whose Winetraders’ import business has always specialised in the wines of Italy. But can Italy’s white wines provide more than fresh, fruity appeal? Michael came to the Club on a chilly north Oxford evening to upturn some assumptions – and what a freight he brought with him. Generous magnums of serious

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Quinta De La Rosa

THE avant-garde winery of the Douro with Sophia Bergqvist

Sophia Bergqvist’s sparkling presentation of the wines of her Quinta de la Rosa was introduced by her long-time friend Gerald Sachs on a cold and rather wet March night.

The Quinta de la Rosa story stretches well over 200 years and embraces wars, bankruptcy, revolution, buried silver and a remarkable christening gift that kept the domain in family hands. Check it out at www.quintadelarosa.com and get a replay of the video that Sophia played to launch our tasting.

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The Wines of Domaine Treloar

Jonathan Hesford

The best in Roussillon’ says Jancis: the wines of Domaine Treloar with Jonathan Hesford

Jonathan began by describing his, and his wife Rachel’s, journey to Domaine Treloar, nine hectares in Roussillon, south-west of Perpignan. It began with witnessing, first hand, the horror of 9/11 and continued through volunteering at a winery, coming top of the class at wine school (no luck involved there, but a lot of hard work), and then learning the business at a small family winery in New Zealand. In 2006, Jon and Rachel bought their vineyard in Roussillon, drawn in part by the region’s value for money and the presence of old vines, but – as became clear during the tasting – primarily inspired by the range of grape varieties and the relative lack of bureaucratic control of the wine industry there. In Roussillon, Jon said, they had the freedom to express themselves. Specifically,  Domaine Treloar is committed to wines made in the vineyard, with as little manipulation of flavour as possible – wines that one can trace back to their creation.

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Modern Sicilian Wines

Sommelier & Winemaker, Filippo Zito

Our first tasting of 2022 was a whole bottle tasting, with members ordering from a set of four Sicilian wines chosen by sommelier and winemaker Filippo Zito – and presented from his Manchester base with suggestions for accompanying food pairings.

Filippo’s range of experience makes him an ideal presenter: a winemaking heritage in south-east Sicily near Agrigento, then working in high-end restaurants across Europe to learn his trade as a sommelier (Gleneagles with Andrew Fairlie, Midland Hotel with Simon Rogan, a stage at Waterside and now a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers) before his current role as an area manager for WoodWinters, the innovative wine and spirits distributor based in Scotland.

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Champagne in Britain 1800-1914 Book Launch

Graham Harding PhD, Richard Bampfield MW and Sarah Hicks

On 18 November 2021, OWC member Graham Harding launched his book on the history of champagne – the first for over a hundred years: Champagne in Britain 1800-1914: how the British transformed a French luxury (Bloomsbury Academic).

Thanks to the generosity of Vranken Pommery, Pol Roger and Michael Palij, the well-attended event was well provided with serious champagnes.

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Celebrating the wines of Austria

Mark Savage MW

This was a double celebration: Mark’s 50 years in the wine trade, and his and our first face to face tasting since the troubles began.

Wine has been made in Austria – mainly in the eastern regions bordering Hungary and Slovenia – since well before Roman times but until recently it was mostly consumed domestically or exported to Germany. The rest of the world took little or no notice until the ‘antifreeze’ scandal of 1985 made Austria briefly notorious when a few merchants (not growers it should be said) were caught using diethylene glycol in the bottling of sweet wines destined for the cheap end of the German market.

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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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