WARE WINE & BEER CIRCLE
MEETINGS IN 2011
2011
December: Christmas meal
11 members got together at Peter and Elaine's house for the club Christmas meal. We were treated to an assorted fish platter - smoked salmon, mussels, smoked mackerel, crayfish tails, prawns - courtesy of John G to start, accompanied by a very nice bottle of Gewürztraminer. The main course was turkey breast and a lamb tagine with dates and honey (Wendy and Elaine), accompanied by assortment of roasted vegetables (Mary) and potatoes. Desserts were a mulled wine cake and a redcurrant gateau (Helen and Mary). A very attractive cheese platter, accompanied by olives, grapes, assorted nuts, figs, and dates was provided by Glen to complete the meal. Conversation and appropriate wines flowed throughout the evening.

December: Ware Christmas Festival
Another extremely successful year selling our mulled wine to the cold and thirsty public of Ware at the Christmas Festival in Tudor Square. The weather was not as cold as last year, but still a bit chilly. The annual event was again very popular. We made up at least 13 gallons of red wine, supplemented by orange juice, water and sugar, and heated it in a Burco boiler again this year. The boiler fortunately behaved itself this year and by preheating some of the wine and getting al the ingredients blended early, we were able to serve the thirsty public without keeping people waiting. Again, we had a queue past our neighbouring stall for most of the evening, and sold out soon after 7.30pm, leaving some people disappointed. We sent a donation to Breast Cancer Care.
Thanks to everyone who helped on the evening, particularly Colin for setting up the infrastructure of our stall and controlling the temperature of the wine (despite being very much under the weather!), and to Peter R for mixing up the wine.

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November: History of Ware by David Perman
A full house of members - only 1 was missing - and 1 guest listened to a very enjoyable and interesting talk by David Perman, who is a leading local historian. He has been involved in many conservation projects in Ware, including the riverside gazebos and Scotts Grotto, and was also involved in the establishment and enlargement of Ware Museum (where the Great Bed of Ware will be next year). He is currently chairman of Ware Charities.
He gave the club a talk on all the inns (23 of them!) that were on the High Street of Ware, mostly all the same side, from the Priory towards the river bridge. It appeared that virtually every building was an inn. Only 1 is still in existence as a public house - The Tap Bar. Al the others are now shops or banks. But there is still evidence of the trade as there are many passageways leading to courtyards where horses and coaches used to stop.
The increase of the malting industry in Ware surprisingly killed off the inn trade as the roads were churned up by the maltsters delivering the malt to the maltings. The dominance of the Ware malting industry was increased by the discovery of porter brewed from brown malt, which was a Ware speciality. The porter was stronger and kept its strength for longer.
In 1880 there were 107 malthouses in Ware. In 1905 Ware was the most heavily pubbed urban district in Hertfordshire.
David has written a book about the history, which, I am sure, will make very interesting reading for anyone interested in Ware.
An excellent talk by someone who know his subject well and clearly enjoys talking about it.
The trophies from the recent Annual Show were presented by the President, Sue, at the end of the evening.

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October: Wine tasting by Gil from The Vine Shop
17 members and 1 guest enjoyed a tasting of wine made from unusual white grapes, as well as an interesting talk by Gil. The last wine was presented as a blind tasting and members had to guess the grape and country. Some very nice wines and a very enjoyable tasting.
The wines were as follows:
Petit Papillon, Languedoc, France 12.5% 2010 Grenache Blanc £6.99
Cantine Belisario 'Terre di Valbona', Italy 12% 2010 Verdicchio di Matelica £8.99
Alisios do Seival, S. Brazil 12% 2010 Pinot Grigio/Reisling £7.99
Fred Loimer  'Lois', Austria 12% 2010 Gruner Veltliner £10.99
Valdivieso Reserva 14% 2010 Viognier £9.99
Simon Hackett 'Brightview', Barossa Valley, Australia 13% 2009 Semillon £10.79
Bouza, Montevideo, Uruguay 14.5% 2009 Albarino £14.99

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October: 31st Annual Show
The club held its 31st Annual Show at the Ware Art's Centre in Ware. 12 competitors entered 91 bottles in 8 wine classes and 11 bottles in 2 beer classes this year. The food classes were not very well supported with only 8 entries. The bottles entered in the show prior to the day arrived extremely promptly, as did the 3 judges. A prompt start was made on the judging. Judges and stewards partook of a salad lunch after judging.
Thanks to the judges and the stewards. Well done to all the winners.

10 members got together in the evening at Kevin's house to eat the food and sample the winning wines.
Click here for results and trophy winners.

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September: Talk and tasting by David Brisco of Wareside Wines
12 members and 2 guests listened to a very interesting talk by David Brisco of Wareside Wines. David told us about his small vineyard - 1 acre - at Wareside and how he started it in 2005. He planted Bacchus and Pinot Noir grapes and, despite the soil being clay, they have survived and are producing an excellent wine. He does not make the wine himself but takes the Bacchus grapes to a winemaker in Berkshire - Vincent Gower (brother of David!) who makes the wine for him. Over 700 bottles were produced in 2009. He takes the Pinot Noir grapes to a winemaker in Kent who has made a sparkling rose with them, with the addition of some Chardonnay. This year's crop of Pinot Noir has been affected by the late frost in May, but the Bacchus grapes should be ok. the Bacchus wine has won silver and bronze medals in the English wine competition over the past two years. The wine is sold locally and in some London restaurants. 
David also has a much larger wine farm in South Africa in the Western Cape, which he owns jointly with another couple.  32 acres are planted with Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
David brought along some wines for us to taste - Wareside Bacchus 2010 11.5%, South African Sauvignon blanc 2009 12.5%, South African Cabernet Franc 2008 14%, and South African Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon blend 2008. All were excellent wines and some members were so impressed that they bought some! The wines are available for sale at Wareside Wines vineyard and at the The Vine shop in Ware.

A very interesting talk and tasting.
A competition also took place during the evening of white and red kit wines. There were 16 entries, 8 in each class. The results were as follows - white kit wine - 1st Peter B, 2nd John, 3rd Peter R, 4th Colin; red kit wine - 1st Elaine, 2nd Eddie, 3rd John, 4th Kevin.

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August: Annual BBQ
11 members, 4 ex-members and 1 guest attended the annual club BBQ, which was hosted this year by Mary and Colin. The weather was a mixture of sunshine and cloud with a light shower whilst we were eating. Colin and Mary had their large gazebo set up so we all stayed dry and reasonably warm for most of the afternoon.
Colin did his usual grand job of bbq-ing the chicken and sausages. Various salads and desserts were prepared by the members.
Mary and Elaine gave a small fashion show of an Elizabethan dress that Mary had found in her loft and which will be suitable for our sessions at the Great Bed of Ware. Mary also had a quiz of 60s songs and artists to get the brains going at the end of the day.
Thanks to Mary and Colin for hosting the event, and to everyone for preparing the food.

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August: Annual Computerised Wine Drive
16 people entered 10 bottles in the Annual wine drive.
The members, split into teams of 1 and 2 people, judge one another's wines in a series of comparative tastings, the idea being that each wine is tasted at least once against every other wine, and each team gets to have a chat with every other team. The results are then entered into the computer and a league table develops with the results. Peter R was sneaky this year and submitted 2 bottles of commercial wine.
The results were as follows: 1st Alan H; 2nd Elaine; 3rd Colin; 4th Commercial 1; 5th Commercial 2; 6th Peter B; 7th Kevin; 8th John; 9th Dave; 10th Peter R; 11th Eddie.
The commercial wine were a French Cabernet and a white table wine.
Well done to Alan H in coming first as this was the first competition he had entered. I looked at the results sheets, and again most of the marks were 2-1; only 10 pairs were scored at 3-0 suggesting that the wines were all very similar in quality. Lets have some better wines next year!
Elaine reminded the members that the mead for the Great Bed of Ware needs to be made soon. Recipes were given out in June (click here to view). Kevin reminded members of the September competition, the Annual Show in October, and the tea wine competition in February 2012.

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July: Annual Walk organised by MC Black; report by MC Black
Fourteen members gathered outside Ware Museum in an aura of excited anticipation as we waited for Mr Gordon Hughes - an former member of the Circle - and our guide.
After a brief introduction, he led us along some of the lesser known by-ways as well as the main thoroughfares of Ware. Along the route we saw the Maltmaker (and his cat), Dr William Mead's gravestone (he died aged 148 years, 9 months, 3 weeks and 4 days!), St Mary's Church, Tudor Square, the oldest building in Ware, former coaching inns, the gazebos, and the delightful new development behind the library car park.
At the end of the walk, those members who had not been exhausted by their exertions gathered in The Punch House where we chatted over a reviving glass (or two) before setting off for home.
Thanks to MC for organising the walk.

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July - Stall at Ware Week Festival
After an absence of many years, the committee decided to run a stall at this year's Ware Week Festival. We kept it simple by offering samples of our home-made wine and beers - and a very nice sherry from Eddie - for a modest donation. We also handed out some recipes and flyers about the club. Quite a few people seemed interested and it is to be hoped that some will come along to a future meeting.

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June: A talk by John Grindell on his life as a judge and with wine!
15 members attended the talk. John gave out a handout of the definitions of the the different types of wine, taken from the National Guild of Wine and Beermakers web site. He first started making wine in 1962 and joined both the Hoddesdon and Hertford clubs. He said that 'Hertford taught me how to make wine, Hoddesdon taught me how to enjoy it'! He became a judge with the Lea Valley Federation and in 1972 he became a National judge, at the second attempt. At that time there was a verbal exam on the theory of wine-making, a verbal exam on the theory of judging, and a practical exam on judging wine. B.C.A. Turner was his examiner and frequently asked John for his comments on the wine that he was judging! John eventually became Treasurer for the Guild.
John has had a long association with wine-makers in Holland, which started when he was asked to collect 2 wine-makers from a Dutch club and take them to the Guild weekend. He went to the meeting place and waited for a long time but no one appeared; so he eventually gave up and went to the Guild meeting. A week later, he gets a phone call from one of the wine-makers, who were at the hotel where the Guild meeting had been held. They had got the date wrong. However, John duly drove to meet them, and so began a very long friendship.
John went through the qualifications for becoming a judge, and took us through the marking sheet. He said he allocated his marks for bouquet according to whether it was 'attractive, neutral, or repellent'!
He said that he had mad some unusual wines in the past, for example - onion, tomato, grass cuttings - just to see whether they would actually ferment!
The wines tasted during the evening were 'old' wines provided by Peter R and Kevin:
home made white port 2004 Peter R  
Francois Baur Gewurtztraminer 13% 1997 Peter R
La Grace du General Margaux 13% 2002 Kevin
Pikkara McLaren Vale Shiraz 15% 2004 Kevin

Well done to John for an interesting talk and to Peter R and Kevin for providing the wines.
Kevin had brought some kits for members to make for a September competition, and also for entry to the show.
Elaine handed out recipes for a tea wine competition to be held at the February 2012 meeting, and also recipes for mead which members could make for the club's participation with the Great Bed of Ware being at the Ware Museum.

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May: Quiz Nite with Dave and Sue Kenney
10 members formed 5 teams of 2 for the annual quiz nite. There was a no particular theme to the quiz this year. Everyone was very quiet whilst trying to ascertain the answers from a multiple choice list. The scoring was fairly close throughout the evening. The results, in reverse order, were - 5th John and Reg, equal 3rd Glen and Elaine, and Helen and Peter R, 2nd Wendy and Don, 1st Alan and Eddie, who received a bottle of wine each. Thanks to Dave and Sue for organising the quiz questions.

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May: Beds & Herts Federation Show 2011
Peter, Elaine and Kevin entered the show again this year; Peter judged and Elaine and Kevin were stewards. Peter got 4 1st places and 13 other places; Elaine got 3 1st places and 4 other places; Kevin got one 1st place and 12 other places. Elaine also won the trophy for Lady with most points in the wine classes. We entered the Circle 3-bottle wine class and came 1st! Overall in the circle table, Ware came 3rd with an impressive 186 points, only 14 points behind White Lion who were first. 
Full report and results on the NAWB web site.

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April: Call my bluff wine tasting by Peter R
A depleted membership - holidays mostly and sickness - were present for a Call My Bluff wine tasting by Peter. Peter and Elaine read out 2 different descriptions of each wine and the members had to guess who was telling the truth!
Wine A Wine B Winner & Price & Source
Kendermann's Special Edition Riesling, Rheinpfalz, Germany, 2009 13% La Petite Fessardiere Muscadet sur Lie, France, 2009 12%   A £6.29 Waitrose
Domaine du Carrior Perrin Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Loire, France, 2006 12.5% Palacio de Menade Verdejo, Rueda, Spain, 2009 12.5%   A £7.00 3D Wines
Talisker Park Semillon/Chardonnay, Australia, 2009 12% Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio Limari Valley, Chile, 2010 13%   B £5.99 offer (£7.99) Waitrose
Brown Brothers Chenin Blanc, SE Australia, 2008 12.5% Oratoire de Millegrand Viognier Vins de Pau d'Oc, France, 2008 13%   A £6.99 Morrisons
Nespolini Sangiovese, Rubicone IGT, Italy, 2009 13% Nottage Hill Pinot Noir, SE Australia, 2009 13.5%   B £5.49 Morrisons
Blackstone Merlot, Napa Valley, California, 2008 13.6% Contea di Castaglione Neddiolo, Barolo, Italy, 2006 13.5%   B £6.19 offer (£10.19)       Morrisons
Ampakama Malbec Tulum Valley, Argentina, 2009 13.8% Fish hoek Shiraz Western Cape, S Africa, 2010 14%   B £5.49 Morrisons

Well done to Peter for obtaining some interesting wines and for finding all the descriptions.

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April: National Show at Ramada Jarvis Hotel, Hull
Peter and Elaine Robinson and Kevin went to the 53rd National show at Hull, a new venue. Everything was under one roof, and the competitors did not need to venture outside if they did not want to. The hotel was very good, the staff very helpful and efficient. There was a gala 2 course dinner on Saturday evening, followed by a disco. The weather was excellent for the time of year. See the NAWB website for the full results and photos.
They entered 170 bottles between them, as well as two bottles from Peter Byford, and the circle also entered the circle classes for 3 bottles of wine for dinner and the 3 bottle beer class, unfortunately no places there. They gained 52 places between them, including 7 1st places. Peter won the Ken Bilham Tastevin for the best dry red table wine and the Bill Elks trophy for the best porter; Elaine won the Southern Vineyards Trophy for the best kit rose; Kevin won 3 first places but unfortunately no trophies; Peter B won the Newcomers Trophy for the most points in the Newcomers classes (he won a 1st and 2nd place). The circle came 3rd overall.

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March: AGM followed by first semi-final of supermarket challenge
18 members and 2 guests attended the AGM. The club is still in a healthy financial position, although the Square Dance for this year has been cancelled due to lack of support, The club has again enjoyed a variety of meetings, including a talk about the The Great Bed of Ware, which will be in Ware Museum in 2012. The Christmas Cook & Taste had to be postponed until January due to the snow. The current committee members were re-elected, although three members are now wearing different hats. 2 new members have been recruited during the year. The Founders Trophy was presented at the end of the evening as a competition was taking place at the same time as the AGM.

Kevin then poured the wines for the supermarket challenge. The first semi-final was between Sainsbury's and Waitrose.
The wines tasted were as follows:
Robert Mondavi Woodbridge, California 13.5% 2009 Chardonnay £5.99 Waitrose
Turner Road, California 13% 2009 Chardonnay £4.99 Sainsbury
Montepulciano d'Abbruzzo, Italy 12.5% 2009 Montepulciano £3.79 Sainsbury
La Piuma Montepulciano d'Abbruzzo, Italy 13% 2009 Montepulciano £4.79 Waitrose
Cotes du Rhone Villages, France 14.5% 2009 Syrah & Grenache £6.15 Sainsbury
Cotes du Rhone Villages, France 14% 2009 Syrah & Grenache £7.50 Waitrose


The members had to decide which wine came from which supermarket. Kevin added up the scores and Sainsbury's won by 38 to 13. Thanks to Kevin and Peter R for getting the wines.
A competition was held - set recipe which was a fruit juice wine, and rose; there were 10 entries in the rose class and 4 in the set recipe. The results were as follows: rose - 1st Kevin, 2nd Peter R, 3rd Colin, 4th Peter B; set recipe - 1st Kevin, 2nd Peter R, 3rd Colin, 4th Elaine.
Sue Kenney then announced the results for the Founder's Trophy, as follows - 8th Dave and Don 2 pts; 6th Eddie and Peter B 4 pts; 5th John Grindell 12½pts;4th Colin 17 pts; 3rd Elaine 19pts; 2nd Kevin 23 ½pts; 1st Peter R 25 points. A close contest this year

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February: Microbrewery tasting by Kevin
Kevin brought along 8 beers from microbreweries in England and Scotland for the 16 members to taste. The beers were as follows:
  • St Peter's Organic Ale from Suffolk, 4.5%
  • Fallen Angel Cowgirl Gold from East Sussex 4.2%
  • Badger Golden Champion from Dorset 5% (provided by Roger)
  • St Peter's India Pale Ale from Suffolk 5.5%
  • 'The Ware Brewery' India Pale Ale from Hertfordshire 5.5% (brewed by Kevin)
  • The Orkney Brewery Dark Island from Orkney Scotland 4.6%
  • Harviestoun Old Engine Oil from Alva Scotland 6%
  • Hopshackle Imperial Stout from Lincolnshire 9.8%
All the beers, except those stated, came from Beers of Europe.  The Dark Island beer was voted the most popular beer of the evening, with Harviestoun Old Engine Oil coming second.
An interesting evening; well done Kevin.

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January: Re-arranged Cook & Taste
The postponed (due to heavy snow) pre-Christmas Cook & Taste finally took place at the end of January. 18 members and 1 guest met at Place House, Ware. Various aperitif nibbles were followed by beetroot soup with croutons and home-made bread. The main course comprised turkey breast with sloe gin cranberry sauce, and lamb casserole, accompanied by potatoes, carrots, parsnips and ratatouille. Desserts were trifle, apple crumble and cheesecake. For those who still had room there also a selection of cheese and biscuits. Excellent food and company made for a very convivial evening.

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January: Table Red Wines using Fruit by Peter R
17 members and 2 guests were instructed on how to make good red table wines using fruit by Peter R. He used a slide show to show the members what the best fruits are for making a good red able wine, their characteristics, what other fruits and other ingredients can be used, and what techniques can be used.
Peter B and Kevin brought along table red wines for the members to taste. We tasted Kevin's Elderberry Rose first, which was made from elderberries and bananas; it was too dark really for a rose, and the bananas were to overpowering on the bouquet and taste. Peter B's bilberry was 20 years old; it tasted very mature, and still had good colour and taste.
We then had a blind tasting of 4 Rioja-style wines, and we had to guess which was which; there was a commercial Rioja, a Beaverdale kit, a wine made from a blend of the Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes (which go into Rioja), and a home-made fruit wine, primarily made from elderberries, blackberries and sloes. No one really liked the home-made wine. 3 people - David K, Kevin and Elaine - guessed all 4 wines correctly.
An interesting evening. Thanks to Peter for setting it up.

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Last updated: 20/07/16
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