August Newsletter


A good number of members attended the summer party evening this month.  It was also very nice to see John and Carolyn again.   Les Bates provided another challenging quiz.  The winners were Trump That with 48 points, John’s Birds came 2nd with 46 points and joint 3rd were Oasters and Hot Team with 44 points.  All very close!  The evening was rounded off with an excellent buffet supper provided by members.  Many thanks to everyone for providing the food and to Lin and Sylvia for coordinating the feast.


Bitter beer:  1st Les Bates, 2nd Geoff Rishman, 3rd Les Bates, Highly Commended Geoff Rishman

Judge: Gerald Priestley


Essentials: good gin, a good tonic and loads of ice! The tonic we like is produced by Fevertree; it is slightly pink, owing to the inclusion of some Angostura bitters. If you like, you can buy this in Waitrose. I did wonder about the name "Fevertree" but, of course, what's the ingredient that gives tonic water its famous astringency? Why - none other than quinine! And what was quinine used for? Treatment of malaria - or "fever"! Quinine was first extracted from the bark of the chinchona tree or "fever tree" in the 1820s. 

Fill a glass with cubed or chipped ice and pour out any melt water before adding the gin. Use as much as you want. Add a sliver of grapefruit skin (not the pith!), a sprig of rosemary and as much tonic as you like. Stir really gently (and briefly) and drink immediately. Wow! This is so good!

Competition Results

Philip, our ex-Chairman, will be presenting another of his comparative tasting evenings on 6 September.  He will be bringing along a varied collection of wines for us to compare which should make an interesting evening.


Quarterly:  Sweet white

WoE (dry and sweet classes)


There will be a liqueur competition hosted by the North Tonbridge Horticultural Society on 1 September at St Philip’s Church.  As usual, the format will be for competitors to enter a small glass of their liqueur on the morning of the show. Entry forms can be obtained from Les Bates. Alternatively, there is an entry form available online using this link: Entries to be emailed to or posted.

NB: Entries accepted up to 20.00 hrs on the Thursday preceding the show.


Just a reminder!  The final balance for the French trip is due on 6 September, if you haven’t already paid the full amount.  There are still places available.  If you want to come please let me know ASAP, as places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.  The menu choices and pick-up points will be issued as an attachment to the October newsletter.


The Open Show will take place on 15 September and entries need to reach Les Maskrey at least 7 days before the show, but preferably 2 weeks beforehand. 

 If you currently have a cup from the 2017 show, please return it before the show.  The organisers would be grateful if they were cleaned before returning.


I have just started making this wine:

Muscadet Sur Lie Style, by Alan Thurlow

  • 1 ltr (35 fl oz) white grape juice
  • 1 ltr (35 fl oz) apple juice
  • 454 g (1 lb) greengages
  • 340 g (12 oz) white currants
  • 652 g (1 lb 7 oz) sugar
  • 3 g (0.1 oz) tartaric acid
  • Pectolase
  • Gervin varietal D yeast (GV11)
  • Nutrients
  • 2-part finings

The recipe is designed to produce a fresh dry wine with 12-13% alcohol and 0.5% acidity.

After removing the stones from the greengages, mash the pulp along with the white currants.  Add the pectolase, yeast and nutrients.  Ferment on the pulp for up to 48 hours using all the sugar and boiled cooled water at a volume of 6 pints.  Strain into a demijohn, add the grape juice, apple juice and half the tartaric acid.  Ferment to 1.005 SG, taste for acidity and add more tartaric acid if necessary.  When fermentation is complete the SG should be between 0.990 and 0.992.  Rack into a fresh demijohn and leave for 48 hours, then fine with 2-part finings.  Leave for 8 weeks before bottling.  



Hops ‘N’ Harvest Beer Festival: 8 & 9 September

Photo courtesy of Kent Life

Les Bates, our Competitions Secretary, is a volunteer at the Museum of Kent Life and recommends this event as being an excellent day out.  In previous years it clashed with the Open Show.  Highlights include:

  • An opportunity to join in with traditional hand-picking of hops.
  • Meeting historical characters from Kent’s past.
  • Sampling of up to 60 varieties of locally brewed ales and ciders.   (Wow!)
  • Visit one of the last working coal-fired oast houses in the country, and witness the entire hop process from picking to drying.
  • Plenty of live and local musical entertainment.

Venue: Kent Life, Lock Lane, Sandling, Maidstone, ME14 3AU (just off the M20, junction 6)

Times:   Saturday 10 am - 11 pm, Sunday 10 am - 6 pm

Prices:   Saturday £12 (concessions £11)

                                Sunday £9.95 (concessions £8.95)

                                Online bookings offer a 10% discount

                                Kent Life members: free

CUTTINGS (All about France this month!)

Spanish being sold as French

Daily Telegraph: British consumers may have been affected by a massive rosé sandal.  It is believed that around 10 million bottles of cheap Spanish wine have been falsely sold as more expensive French wines.

A rosé labelled “vin de France” and a more expensive IGP (protected geographical indication) wine was sold by four very large French distributors, according to Alexandre Chevallier of the French consumer fraud office.  French rosés are popular in the UK with 11% being exported from the Languedoc, the worst region affected by the scam.  The UK buys 15% of higher grade rosés from Provence, which it is believed has not been affected. 

An investigation was initially launched at the end of 2015 when it came to light that Spanish wine was being passed off as French in one fifth of the establishments checked by officials.  The cheap Spanish wine could sell for three times its real value if labelled as a French IGP.

This is the latest in a series of scandals that have tarnished the French wine trade.  In March of this year over 66 million bottles of ordinary table wine had been passed off as Chateauneuf Du Pape and other prestigious Cote du Rhone Appellations.  Only weeks later one of Bordeaux most highly regarded chateaux was accused of illegally adding sugar to some of its 2016 vintage.  In 2010, 12 winemakers and merchants in southern France were accused of selling millions of litres of fake pinot noir to E&J Gallo, the American distributor.

Bordeaux Vineyards severely hit by Mildew

Daily Telegraph: it is expected that up to 70% of the harvest this year will be lost to mildew, which is believed to have been caused by the heavy rainfall this spring.  This comes as a double blow as Bordeaux winemakers suffered their worst harvest since 1945 last year, caused by severe frost that cut production by 40%.  The current fungal disease has not only affected producers of organic wines, but also conventional winegrowers that treat their vines systemically.

Joel Ortiz, an adviser to the Chamber of Agriculture said: “Few vineyards are completely unaffected.  It is widespread.”

The French Blues

Daily Telegraph: A French winemaker has produced a blue wine!   This wine is a white wine that is passed through a pulp of red grape skin that turns blue due to the natural pigment anthocyanin. René Le Bail, a French entrepreneur, initially had to produce the wine in Almeria, Spain as the French producers refused to make it, but he is now selling it in his homeland. It is a fragrant, sweet wine with a mild taste, making it a popular aperitif or cocktail, which would pair well with seafood such as oysters. Apparently, it has cherry flavours with notes of blackberry and passion fruit. Some 35,000 bottles of Vindigo, a Chardonnay, are now on sale in Sète for approx €12, the wine is also available in Spain and Corsica. Requests for orders have come from the UK, China, Indonesia, Italy and Belgium.  I wonder, is it just a gimmick or is it here to stay? 


The “C” Word in August

Waitrose have recently reported in Weekend that juniper, a botanical commonly used in gin, will be paired with bitter orange to complement Christmas foods this year, such as venison haunch, gammon and stollen. I suppose by the time of the next newsletter Christmas items will be commonplace in the shops.  

Write a new comment: (Click here)
Characters left: 160
DONE Sending...
See all comments

| Reply

Latest comments

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

You liked this page