November Newsletter


Philip Bisson gave an informative talk with tastings on single grape sauvignon blanc wines and blends from around the world.

France Chatelain, Pouilly-Fumé, Loire - vol 13.5%, 2019, ~£14. A lovely well-balanced wine with a strong and pleasant bouquet.

New Zealand Hunters, Marlborough Valley, one of New Zealand’s largest sauvignon blanc regions – vol 13%, 2020, Laithwaites ~£14. A lovely bouquet, fresher and fruitier than the Pouilly-Fumé. A serious contender to the French grown grape. In comparison with the first it was difficult to choose the better wine, but the majority of members seemed to prefer the French version.

Hungary Torley – vol 12%, 2020, Laithwaites £7.99.

A nice wine with similarities to the Pouilly-Fumé, but lacking the intense bouquet.

France Chateux le Coin, sauvignon gris, Bordeaux – vol 14%, 2020, Laithwaites £10.79. Less aromatic than the sauvignon blanc grape, but a very pleasant wine with almond undertones.

Slovenia Puklavec & Friends, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio blend - vol 11.5%, 2020, Waitrose £7. Pleasant, but lacking the qualities of the previous wines.

France Chataux Rampeau, Bordeaux, sauvignon blanc and Sémillon blend - Waitrose £9.20. A lovely wine with the characteristic grassiness of the Sémillon grape. Philip prefers this wine to a Graves blend also sold at Waitrose.   

Thank you, Philip for a well-researched talk with an interesting range of wines based on the sauvignon blanc grape. It was an evening where I am sure we all learnt something new.


Next month we will be holding our Christmas party again for the first time in 2 years. However, we are being cautious as Covid is still with us and request members not to share food, but only to bring along their own suppers, wine, crockery and cutlery. Following tradition, the party night will commence with a challenging quiz. There will be a big Christmas raffle and contributions from members would, as usual, be most appreciated. 


The Mitre Inn was situated on the Hadlow Road.  The first photo was taken c1900. Note the elegant arches. However many of us will remember it looking more like the second photo.

The 1867 Post Office Directory, lists William Pearch as landlord. Sadly, three early records involve drowning incidents near the Cannon Bridge where inquests were held at this inn. In 1870 the Maidstone Telegraph reported on the drowning of two brothers aged 8 and 2½ years old. Their mother, a hop picker from Surrey, was travelling to Mr. Leney's hopgarden at Hadlow-place when the boys fell into the river and sadly drowned. In 1873 the Kent and Sussex Courier reported on the drowning of a young man, which was believed to have been a suicide. A year later this newspaper reported on a case of the drowning a baby to conceal its birth. On a more cheerful note, the Tonbridge Theatre and Arts Club (TTAC), put on performances in a stable behind the pub which had been converted into a small theatre. In 1974 TTAC moved into the Oast Theatre, but maintained the lease on the Mitre stable for rehearsal and storage rooms. In the early to mid 1990’s the pub closed and yes, you’ve guessed correctly - it was demolished for housing!

(Acknowledgements: Dover Kent Archives, Tonbridge Daily, Tonbridge - Photos, History and Stories,


Christmas 2020 was cancelled, so I think we should indulge in two Christmas cocktails this year, one this month and another in the December newsletter.



Rudolph’s Martini

35ml gin                                             

1 tsp maraschino liqueur            

35ml dry vermouth

2 sage leaves                                    

1 tsp grenadine

Add all ingredients, including the sage leaves, to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a martini or coupe glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.


This recipe is only for the brave as it contains a sprinkling of chilli flakes. Who is up to the challenge?

Chilli Chocolate Tart, Great British Chefs

250g plain flour

100g icing sugar

35g ground almonds

125g unsalted butter

350ml double cream

150ml milk

¾ tsp chilli flakes

400g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2 eggs, beaten

To serve: 8 dollops of crème fraiche, lime zest

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl, then stir in the ground almonds. Add the butter and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix together until just combined into a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.

Heat the double cream and milk to the boil, then add the chilli flakes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 and lightly grease a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Roll out the pastry to a 3mm thickness and use to line the tin, pushing it gently into the edges. Line with greaseproof paper and add baking beads. Blind-bake until the pastry is lightly golden, which should take about 10–15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and return to the oven for another 10–15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. After removing the pastry from the oven, use a pastry brush to glaze the pastry with the egg yolk and return to the oven for 1 minute before setting aside to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/gas mark 2 and place the chocolate in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pass the infused chilli cream through a sieve into a clean pan and bring to the boil. Once boiled, pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has fully melted. Gradually add the beaten eggs and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry case and carefully transfer to the oven. Bake until just set for approximately 15–20 minutes then remove and allow to cool at room temperature.

To serve, sprinkle the tart with lime zest and dollops of crème fraiche.


Moldovan wines bring promise to their economy

Sunday Times: Moldova has seen a growth in wineries, due to the expansion of its export market. This country, on the same latitude as Burgundy, has one of the longest associations with winemaking in the world. Archaeological evidence has revealed that vines were planted there in 2800 BC. In the Soviet era Moldova produced sickly-sweet wines loved by the Moscow elite. The locals drank cognac instead. Today wine remains a major source of their economy, but largely due to a Russian embargo they are now exporting to upmarket buyers in Europe, China and America. As a result, a new generation of winemakers has emerged who are producing a high-quality style of wine, often from local grape varieties such as Rara Neagra. Moldova’s wine exports are worth 25% more than last year. This autumn marks the first grape harvest since Maia Sandu became President. Moldova’s winemakers are hopeful that the new President will bring further investment from Europe and America. This is one of the poorest countries in Europe who currently lack the investment for producers to purchase the requisite technologies for furthering their industry.

Will Lyons, vice-president of the Sunday Times Wine Club, was particularly impressed with the lavish black fruit and velvet soft texture of a cabinet sauvignon from the Bugeac region, produced by Château Vartely. Geoff and I tried this wine in a Laithwaites selection earlier this year and can concur with his comments.

A scarcity of NZ Sauvignon Blanc this Christmas

Daily Telegraph: There could be a shortage of New Zealand sauvignon blanc on our supermarket shelves this Christmas due to a 30% lower harvest in 2021 caused by bad weather. Chris Stroud, from New Zealand Winegrowers, said that the 2021 vintage would be “special” but that “the question may be whether there is enough to go around”. Fortunately, we have benefitted from Philip’s recent talk and can choose a good alternative, BUT don’t forget France have had a bad season too!  Maybe the Hungarian  Torley would be our best bet.




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Latest comments

31.03 | 15:44

Hello, We have some demijohns and fermenting buckets, they are free of charge.If anyone would be interested please contact me.
Thank you

09.11 | 20:18

Thank you for your kind offer of the wine rack. Unfortunately Rainham is rather a long way to travel, as many of us live in Tonbridge.
Best wishes,

09.11 | 19:34

Hello I was a wine maker many years ago and have a 90 bottle wine rack for FREE if anyone can collect from Rainham Kent

09.09 | 18:31

Looks yummy! You list garlic in the ingredients list, but I don’t see where you add it to the recipe. I would guess that you add it to the partially sautéed oni

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