May 2019


Geoff opened his unconventional tasting evening by informing us that he likes trying wines from lesser known grapes. He tends to prefer reds, hence the unconventional evening with only one white and five reds.

1      Molino Loco, Macabeo grape, 2015, vol 12%. This grape is the same as the one used for producing white Rioja and Cava, however the Macabeo is grown in Murcia, several hundred miles south of the Rioja region. A very tasty wine at £7.61.

2      Briccotondo, Dolcetto grape, 2016, vol 13%. This grape first appeared in Italy in 1593. Dolcetto translates as “little sweet one”, but this wine is totally dry. It is rich ruby red in colour, intensely fruity, with low acidity and a good balance. £9.61.

3      Casillero del Diablo, 2015, vol 13.5%. £9.99.

4      Lapostolle, 2013, vol 13.5%. £10.78.

The 3rd and 4th tastings were both examples of wines from the Carménère grape, which originated in Bordeaux, but was eventually destroyed by the Phyloxera blight in the mid 19th century. This grape was also grown in Chile and for a long time had been confused with Merlot. Over the last few years Carménère has increased in popularity. The Lapostolle was the superior of the two wines and was preferred by the majority of members.

5    Il Pumo, Primitivo grape, 2012, vol 13.5%. Geoff informed us that Il Pumo was a good introduction to a Puglian Primitivo, although there are better ones available, but still a pleasant wine at £13.99.

6    Chapel Hill, Mourvedre grape, 2014, vol 14.5%. This was an excellent Australian wine from the McLaren Vale. A gorgeous mid-palate wine, with fine tannins and interesting aromatics on the nose. Expensive at £20.35, but well worth it.

Many thanks Geoff for introducing us to these lesser known grapes and your extensive research into their history and characteristics. A great tasting evening!


The annual dinner, which took place last month, has been held at the Rose and Crown Hotel for the last three years and the food and service were again really good. I thought the crème brûlée was equal to that which many of us enjoy at Le Blanc Nez restaurant on our day trips to France. 

Philip entertained us with the after-dinner speech on his career in the RAF.  His talk largely focussed on his time spent in Singapore during the Malayan conflict. Philip’s tasks involved dropping supplies for commonwealth troops deep into small clearings in the Malayan jungle, which required navigational accuracy. One of his other tasks was the dropping of propaganda leaflets, issued in multiple languages, imploring the fighters to surrender. On a lighter note Philip’s squadron took part in the filming of the Bridge on the River Kwai. A most entertaining talk, Philip.

Many thanks once again to Lin and Les Maskrey for all their hard work in arranging this wonderful evening.


Quarterly (Dry White)

1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Bob Dye

Wine of the Evening

Dry: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Bob Dye, 3rd Les Maskrey

Sweet: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Bob Dye

Judges: Chris Powis and Philip Bisson



On Thursday 6 June guest speaker, Peter Clare, will be giving a talk on garden ferns.  Peter will be bringing along some examples of his ferns. A couple of years ago I attended one of Peter’s talks and found this topic to be most fascinating.  Since then I have planted several varieties of ferns in our garden.


Jock Franklin Cup: an English style grape wine, red or white

WoE (dry and sweet classes)


The committee have settled on a medium elderflower wine for the Country Wine Class, which is reserved for Tonbridge members. You can, of course, use any recipe you like, but fresh elderflowers will be ready to pick within the next few weeks and only ½ pt of flower heads are required for making a gallon of wine.


The days are getting longer and hopefully the weather will be getting warmer before too long. The season for cocktails in the garden is fast approaching. This cocktail holds 5th place in Drinks International 10 most popular cocktails for 2019:


⅔  bourbon                             

red vermouth (sweet)    

4-5 ice cubes                          

Dash of angostura bitters      

1 maraschino cherry

1)      Put the ice cubes into a glass jug.

2)      Pour the bourbon and vermouth over the ice.

3)      Add a dash of angostura bitters.

4)      Sir vigorously, strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.

5)      Drop in the cherry and serve.



Two Evening Events at West Kent College

Thursday 23 May – A Spanish Evening: An evening of Spanish food inspired by a group of students’ recent work experience at hotels and restaurants in Seville. The meal will start with an amuse-bouche, followed by choices of starters, mains and desserts. Coffee or tea with petit fours will be served afterwards. Price: £25. 

Thursday 13 June An Evening with Biddenden Vineyards (originally scheduled for 11 April): A presentation and wine tasting from one of our local vineyards in the Artisan Restaurant.  This will be followed with a 5-course dinner. Price: £25.

Some of our members attended the fish dinner in association with Billingsgate Fish Market in March and reported that it was an excellent evening.


Guinness say farewell to plastic can rings!

Daily Telegraph: Guinness have joined Carlsberg by dispensing with plastic rings for holding packs of cans together. Carlsberg introduced a specially developed adhesive in September 2018 as a replacement (see October 2018 newsletter). In future Guinness multi-can packs will be sold in “sustainably sourced, recyclable and fully biodegradable cardboard”. Last month Guinness announced that they would be introducing their changes in Ireland in August, followed by the UK and then the rest of the world next year. Ring carriers and shrink wrap will also be removed from their Harp and Smithwicks brands.

Diageo, the owners of Guinness, said that the ban on their use of plastics would be the equivalent of 40 million 500 ml plastic bottles, which, if laid end to end, would stretch from London to Beijing. Its commitment to the reduction of plastics will cost approx. £16 million. Furthermore, it aims to ensure that all plastics are widely recyclable or reusable/compostable by 2025.

Six-pack plastic rings were invented in the 1960’s by the packaging company, ITW Hi-Cone. The first fully eco-friendly system was introduced in 2016 by E6PR (Eco Six Pack Ring). It holds cans together using packaging made from by-product waste and other compostable materials. Left out in the open or in water it degrades within weeks.

The burst of the Prosecco bubble

Daily Mail: Sparkling wine has been the established celebratory drink at Christmas and birthdays for many years, but it now seems that it is beginning to lose some of its sparkle. In 2018 sales of champagne, prosecco, cava and English sparkling wines dropped by 3 million bottles. According to accountancy firm, UHY Hacker Young, this is the first dip in sparkling wine sales in 5 years, despite the rise in popularity for prosecco over the past decade. UHY Hacker Young said that the drop could be due to the fall in the value of the pound since 2016, resulting in higher import prices. “Ginaisance” could also be responsible for a significant fall in sales, as consumers now turn to gin as the trendy tipple. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association reported a “staggering” £2.1 billion worth of gin was sold in the UK in 2018.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)


A winemaking tip

A quick method for gathering hawthorn flowers is to place a large bucket under the tree, hold a branch down over the bucket with one hand and run your other hand along the branch scattering the flower petals into the bucket. (You may wish to wear gloves for this task!)

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13.03 | 12:56

anyone interested in 4x 50 litre wine carboys. I stopped making wine about 15 years ago. open to offers.

16.01 | 20:27

Same you only allow 160 caricatures on your site I would like to wright more !!!

16.01 | 15:40

Thank you for your kind comments. You are more than welcome to join us at one of our meetings - the first Thursday of each month.

16.01 | 15:26

Hi There I have just come across your website ...and very impressed, you seem to be a well organised club with monthly events and good membership BRAVO

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