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March Meeting

The spirit of "Poems and Pints" lives on and was heartily endorsed by all the readers present. Expertly comparéd by Gerald, we all had a thoroughly enjoyable evening - even if one or two of us had too many of the "pints" and offered too few of the "poems"! This is a club tradition that I hope will continue long into the future. My only regret is that it is a biennial event rather than an annual! Well done Gerald - I'm sure the club will join me in thanking you immensely for all the work and effort you put into this.

Grape Varieties of the World

This will be the last in this series. In wishing to end on a high note, I can promise you just that! This article will feature not one but two or three grape varieties! A very knowledgeable friend of mine wrote:"that wine I mentioned from Waitrose is fantastic at £59/case. Get a case before the price goes back up, order on line if you have to. I know wine snobs who wouldn't buy it unless it was £59/bottle and they'd be happy with it. Reality is, it is a fairly simple wine, beautiful soft, almost creamy fruit, reflecting the time in oak, very slight astringency on the tail, but at this price a true bargain. Fantastic with a big rich pasta sauce or even pizza, a guzzling wine, whilst cooking said pasta sauce, and, while you're at it, throw some in. Get some now!" Well - I did! I have not regretted doing so as it lives up entirely to his description. The wine is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Tempranillo. Garnacha (in France Grenache) is a grape that is characteristically fruity with a subtle peppery note. It produces high strength wines but is, unfortunately, prone to oxidation. It most likely originated in Aragon in Northern Spain. Garnacha ripens late unlike its noble partner the Tempranillo. In fact Tempranillo is the Spanish diminutive of Temprano - meaning "early". Tempanillo is not particularly aromatic which is why it is often blended with Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. Enter Camino Roja! What a delightful wine!





A quick reminder that this will take place next month and, consequently, there will be no competitions on that night. Nominations for the committee have now closed. Sadly, only one club member returned the nomination form. Please, everybody, the committee needs new members - remember Philip's appeal at the last meeting? Finally, there will be, as you are doubtless aware, no charge for the evening, but we still have to hire the room! Could we therefore have as big, as humungously big as possible, a raffle as we can? Not only is it great fun - it also helps to offset the cost! Thank you everybody.





The North Tonbridge Horticultural Society Show will take place on April 1 this year - no seriously! The usual competition will be open to all: 4 classes - red: sweet and dry; white: sweet and dry. Please get your wines to St Philip's Church (Royal West Kent Avenue) between 09.00 and 10.00. Good luck everyone!




Annual Dinner 2017

 Information for interested members: The dinner will be at the Rose and Crown on Friday April 21. Time: 7.00 for 7.30. Of course, we have the luxury of not being thrown out at 10.00 p.m. this year.


What's An Expert?

Being a naturally born cynic I have always rejected the notion that someone is better than me by virtue of having been born into a richer family or by having some superior intrinsic worth to which I can never aspire... However, when it comes to "experts" I have, over the years, come to be very suspicious of those who claim superior knowledge because they themselves say so. I thank Bob for supplying me with an article he gleaned from the Mail (February 11). In this test, conducted by Dr Francesco Foroni of the SISSA research institute in Trieste, a panel of 12 wine professionals were pitted against novices. Researchers conclusions? "Irrespective of expertise, novices and wine professionals did not show any significant difference in their odour discrimination ability, neither in accuracy nor in response speed". Asked to smell seven wines made from grape  varieties such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon, the "expert" group fared no better than the amateurs. The group examined the importance of terroir - the French word for the earth and other characteristics of a vineyard. Both groups were capable of distinguishing between different terroirs - but the expert group were no better than the amateur group. The test was unusual because it did not involve tasting. The research group's conclusion was: "olfactory discrimination performance of both novices and wine professionals reflected whether two wines differed by terroir, variety or both. Performance peaked when wines differed in both terroir and variety, with terroir being more easily discriminated than variety".


Small Boys Bite The Big Boys

This country had seen 4 big brewers dictate what we should consume for many years. We were saddled with "accountant's ale" as they sought to maximise profit at the expense of quality. One could almost feel the contempt in which they held their customers. CAMRA entered the scene in the 1970s; this was the among first and most spectacularly successful pressure groups in history. Just what they achieved was evidenced by the decline of the once ubiquitous "Watneys" brand - along with Truman's, Ind Coope and Friary Meux. Now it seems the rise of Craft Breweries goes from strength to strength (Telegraph 13 March 2017). According to data from the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, the number of new breweries in Britain rose last year by an astonishing 55% - to a record high of 520. This surge in breweries comes as one of the most successful companies, Brewdog, opened its 18th overseas branch last year. Brewdog are makers of the incredibly delightful and moreish "Punk IPA" which featured so strongly in Les Bates' recent talk. There can be no doubt or misunderstanding that UK beer is highly appreciated in other countries. Indeed, according to HM Revenue and Customs exports of British beer to China increased by a staggering 500% last year.  Figures also suggest that craft beer now accounts for 9% of all beer sold in licensed premises in Britain. So why, chancellor, why are you putting up the prices once again? Why are you risking such a phenomenal rebirth? At the risk of quoting old fables - I seem to recall something about a goose and a golden egg...

Hogarth The Visionary

Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence is reflected in  that masterpiece of Hogarth's painting: Gin Lane. In the 18th century gin was mass produced and dirt cheap. The squalid surroundings and harsh living conditions encouraged poor people to consume vast quantities in order, for just a moment, to escape the bleak realities of their miserable existence. Now gin is respectable again. It has even become something of a niche purchase as new varieties with exotic botanicals (in addition to the ubiquitous juniper) flood onto the market. Ask Les Maskrey - he's visited the gin makers on Shipbourne Road and even made his own! Bob supplied yet another article which got me thinking (Mail February 25). It seems that gin exports are set to hit the £500 million mark this year. This will exceed to £476 million earned from beef! According to Mike Beale of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) "Britain is by far the biggest exporter of spirits in the world". More than 41 million bottles were sold in the UK last year. Both Tesco and Sainsbury's each stock more than 40 different gin products. According to Neil Everett, co-founder of Brockman's gin in 2008, "drinking habits have changed dramatically in the past five years and the premium gin market has been one of the biggest winners".

Competition Results


  • Dry: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Tom Rix, 3rd Les Maskrey

  • Medium: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Bob Dye

  • Sweet: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Bob Dye

    Quarterly: Lager

  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd Geoff  Rishman

    Thanks to the judges: Yvonne and Bob (wine) and Tom (beer)

Game Of Phones

Oh dear! I find myself falling into curmudgeonly mode more and more frequently these days. Avant thee Victor Meldrew!  However, patience was exhausted when I tried to get into the main Sainsbury's supermarket in Tonbridge on Wednesday 8 March. There was a barrier of shopping baskets in the way. This is the scene:

Please note the "Emergency Exit" sign. When I drew  the attention of the store manager to this, I was told "in the event of a fire the staff will remove the barrier". Not being entirely convinced or reassured that the staff would put my safety selflessly above their own, I told the manager it was incongruous to see such a blatant contradiction and that I had photographed it. His response? "You shouldn't take photographs inside the store". Upon telling him I would take photographs wherever I saw fit, he told me to leave the store at once. As I left I tried in vain to find the notice telling people to desist from photographic urges. Of course, I could discover none... Maybe they only become visible in the event of a fire? My only other experience of  totalitarian paranoia was in Cuba when I had a GPS confiscated for the duration of my stay. I wonder if Sainsbury's have a similar ruling? After all modern mobile phones not only take photographs - they're also equipped with GPS!




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24.08 | 12:34

I have a white grape vine with over 100 bunches on it - I no longer make wine - would anyone like to come and pick them otherwise they will be wasted.

24.08 | 12:22

I have a white wine grape vihich has over 100 bunches on it - I no longer make wine. I live in Orpington - is anyone interested in having these grapes? I

24.07 | 10:19

23.07 | 20:31

whats your email address?

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