WARE WINE & BEER CIRCLE
MEETINGS IN 2015


2015
December: Christmas meal at the Salisbury Arms Hotel, Hertford
15 members and 3 guests attended the Xmas meal at the Salisbury Arms Hotel in Hertford on the 12th December. The nominated assembly point was the downstairs bar for drinks before moving upstairs to our reserved table where the staff provided excellent service during our meal including a glass of Prosecco “on the house”.
The two or three course (optional) meal included a choice from starters of vegetable & pearl barley soup with croutons, trio of smoked fish (Salmon, Trout & Halibut) with horseradish cream, breaded brie deep fried with salad & Cumberland sauce, and chicken liver parfait with chutney & toast. The four main courses offered were traditional roast turkey with herb seasoning, braised blade of beef on mustard mash, baked cod fillet topped with a herb crust served on green bean & tomato salad, and roasted root vegetable wellington with creamy mushroom sauce. Desserts included Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, salted caramel profiteroles with cream, raspberry and chocolate roulade with cream, and a selection of cheese & biscuits. Coffee, tea & mince pies were served to finish.
On behalf of the club, president John thanked Elaine for arranging the event. A good meal, crackers with the anticipated old, corny jokes, indoor firework streamers, party hats and good company made the evening well worth attending.


December: Ware Christmas Festival
Once again the club set up a stall at the Dickensian evening on December 5th. Peter R., Elaine, Colin, Mary, Kevin, Robert Eddie and Chris manned the stall in the same plot as 2014. Some of the team dressed appropriately for the occasion including Peter in top hat & long coat living up to his nick name for the night “Scrooge” which coincidentally, as club treasurer, is his nickname for most club funded commercial wine tasting evenings!
Peter & Colin took charge of the mulled wine stock room (delivery buckets & boiler) while Kevin provided the supply line (replenishing the serving jugs) to Robert, Eddie, Mary & Chris “the sales team” at the front bench. Elaine took up her normal post as cashier. As usual the evening started slowly but steadily and built up to a frenzied onslaught of customers causing the stall to be sold out before 8 o’clock. Having then closed the stall, new & returning customers expressed disappointment that the nation’s no. 1 wine & beer circle couldn’t serve them!
With approximately 21 gallons of mulled wine the club managed to raise £672 during the evening which, although slightly lower than 2014, is considered another success.

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November: Mystery Ingredient Food Tasting
18 members & one guest attended the meeting which centred upon the tasting of various food dishes with a hidden ingredient added to the recipe. Attendees were tasked with identifying the mystery ingredient. A total of 12 dishes including pate, mousse, pies, cakes & biscuits were submitted for praise, condemnation or occasional silent pauses and members made note of their opinions. These opinions ranged from perfectly acceptable, edible flavourings to less appropriate ideas such as soap and old spice without specifying whether this was the after shave or merely an old sachet found at the back of the food cupboard. At the end of the session the true ingredients were revealed and members managed to achieve a maximum score of 2 (including their own dish). The president amused all by revealing that his cake had survived near catastrophe as he had fallen asleep toward the end of the baking period. Elaine thanked the members for their cooking efforts and the meeting agreed it had been a successful evening.
President John presented a belated award certificate to meeting guest Micheal who achieved a second place in one of the beer classes at the annual show in July.
Kevin reminded everybody of the usual in house competition in March and issued an Apple Base Mixed Fruit Juice recipe. Kevin explained that this was not a set recipe but left room for making wine in a range of styles and that he had included some useful notes to assist.

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October: Beer Tasting presented by Peter and Kevin
15 members and 1 guest enjoyed a comparative tasting of commercial beers against beers brewed by Peter and Kevin. Peter described the production process of some of the beers, particularly the Lambic beer, and also went through the different aromas and taste of the beers. The beers were as follows:
Geuze (Lambic) Cuvee St Gilloise, Cantillon Brewery, Brussels 5%
Saison Revisionist Belgian Saison 5%
Saison Farmer in the Rye, Digswell Brewery 6.8%
American Pale Ale Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5.6%
American Pale Ale Citra Pale Ale, Hitchin Brewery 4.4%
IPA Shepherd Neame IPA 6.1%
IPA Chelmsford Bitter, Hitchin Brewery 8%
Irish Stout / Extra Stout Shepherd Neame Double Stout 5.2%
Irish Stout / Extra Stout Dry Stout, Digswell Brewery 5.9%

At the close of the meeting our president John proposed thanks to Peter R. and Kevin for their presentation.

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September: English wine tasting by Peter R
18 members attended the meeting. Peter R. gave a talk on English wines supported by 9 sample bottles of white (one sparkling), rosé and red wines. The samples included commercial produce (5 bottles) from Wareside, Warden Abbey, Denbies and Adgestone vineyards together with 4 bottles of homemade by Peter R. from grapes grown in the Robinson vineyard at Barrowell Green. The commercial wines ranged from £8.69 to £12 per bottle and Peter stated that the cost of English wines was quite high at an average of about £10 per bottle. Charts for the year 2012 indicated that 66% of English wines are sparkling and that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were the most planted grape varieties. Attendee opinion during the meeting suggested that Peter’s 4 homemade wines compared well with the commercial examples which received mixed comment. At the close of the meeting our president proposed thanks to Peter R. for his presentation.
During the wine tasting the competition for the vegetable and social classes was judged by an independent judge. Kevin thanked members for the 25 entries and announced the results -
Vegetable Class 1st Elaine, 2nd Chris, 3rd Graham S. and 4th Kevin
Social Class 1st Elaine, 2nd Peter R., 3rd Peter B. and 4th Chris
The meeting noted that Peter R. was wearing a tie. However, this was not just to prove he had one! As Peter explained, having (at last) achieved NAWB Master status he felt compelled to wear the appropriate tie!


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August: Annual BBQ
18 members, 2 ex-members and 1 guest, attended the annual club BBQ, which was hosted this year by Mary and Colin. The weather stayed dry, although rather dull and not very warm. Everyone sat outside, under the gazebo, for the afternoon.
Colin did his usual grand job of bbq-ing the chicken, sausages, and spare ribs. Various salads and desserts were prepared by the members.
Thanks to Mary and Colin for hosting the event, and to everyone for preparing the food. Also thanks to Robert and Susan for taking most of the photos.

Photo Gallery

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August: Annual Computerised Wine Drive, run by Elaine and Peter R
13 members participated in this year's Annual wine drive, with 10 bottles entered.
The members were mostly split into teams of 1 person with a couple of teams of 2 people. The aim is to 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 evening had an element of confusion as David is not very mobile at the moment, so he stayed put all evening, and the other teams had to come to him. The results are then entered into the computer and a league table develops with the results. This year's commercial wines were Tesco Everyday Day Spanish white and rosé in litre cartons at £3.95 each.
The results were as follows: 1st Commercial white; 2nd Kevin; 3rd Peter B; 4th Commercial Rosé; 5th Elaine; 6th Colin; 7th John; 8th Peter R; 9th Graham S; 10th Graham B.
Most of the scores were 2-1, suggesting that the wines were extremely similar in quality. Well done to everyone.
The trophies and certificates from the recent Annual Show were presented by the club president - John.
The evening was rounded off with carrot and walnut cupcakes, provided by Graham B.

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July: 35th Annual Show
The club held its 35th Annual Show at Place House in Ware (Ware Arts Centre had been double booked). 15 competitors, including 6 from other wine & beer circles, entered 98 bottles in eight wine classes and 56 bottles in four beer classes. Two food classes were reasonably supported with 8 entries. The bottles entered in the show prior to the day arrived extremely promptly, as did the 5 judges which included Peter R. Judges and stewards enjoyed an excellent salad lunch after judging.
Thanks to the judges and the stewards. Well done to all the winners who will be announced at the August meeting.
Unfortunately the usual evening get together had to be cancelled due to low attendance.

Click here for results and trophy winners.

Photo Gallery

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July: Talk and tasting of Grenache around the world by Mark Duce
23 members and 2 visitors attended. The meeting welcomed guest speaker Mark Duce whose subject was the Grenache grape variety. Mark brought 7 sample bottles, 6 wines and 1 fortified wine.
Grenache (or in Spanish, Garnacha) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world (although there are “white” green skinned Grenache related varieties). It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions where the grape benefits from its tolerance to heat and drought. Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and color, and is usually blended with other varieties to compensate.
It is generally spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate and produces wine with a relatively high alcohol content. Characteristic flavours include red fruit flavours (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note. Grenache wines are prone to oxidation, can show brown colouration and take on more leather and tar flavours with aging.
Sample wines were as follows:
1. Monrouby 2013 – French fresh crisp white wine, Grenache Blanc grape, 12½% at a cost of approx. £8.99
2. Boulevard Napoleon 2012 – French from a Grenache Gris grape variety, slightly oaked, 14½% at a cost of approx. £17.00
3. Willunga 2014 – Australian dry rosé with cherry rose petal flavour, a hint of tannin, 13½% at a cost of approx. £9.99
4. El Circo Garnacha 2013 – Spanish Red (Deep Purple Colour), no oak, 13% at a cost of approx. £9.99
5. Willunga 100 2013 - Australian Red, subtle oak, 14½% at a cost of approx. £12.50
6. Cien Y Pico 2009 – Spanish using both American & French oak, 13½% at a cost of approx. £14.50
7. Maury 2012 – A French fortified wine, 12 months in oak, deep spicy flavour stated to be “good with chocolate”, 16½ % at a cost of approx. £14 per half bottle.
Peter R. poured the wines as carefully as possible having overcome the initial shock and nerves generated by the average cost per sample bottle compared to the Treasurer’s standard budgeting. President John raised a few eyebrows by expressing a preference for the Rosé sample as opposed to the overall meeting preference for the red selections. The meeting showed it’s appreciation to Mark Duce.

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June: Wales & West 51st Annual Festival
The Wales & West 2015 Festival was held on 19th-22nd June at the TLC Group Derwent Hotel, Torquay with five members of Ware attending, Elaine, Peter, Kevin, Chris & Carol, as well as Lynn.
Elaine, Peter and Kevin judged various classes and Chris and Lynn assisting as stewards. Elaine, Peter, Kevin, Chris & Carol, and also Robert, entered the show.
Peter continued his successful year by becoming the Wales & West Master Brewer for the first time, as well as beer judge with the most points. Peter achieved 3 1st places, 4 2nd places, 1 3rd place, 1 4th place, 1 5th place and 3 6th places. Elaine won 3 3rd places and a 4th place. Kevin won 1 1st place, a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 2 6th places. Robert got one 1st place and one 2nd place, Chris got one 1st place, two 2nd places, two 5th places and one 6th place. Carol put Ware on the map for one of the cookery classes by achieving a 6th place for her homemade jam. The club won 2 5th places in the circle classes. As a club, Ware were the most successful non-affiliated club for the first time. Once again a very enjoyable weekend.
Next year's show will take place over the weekend of the May Day Bank holiday.

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June: Visit to Forty Hall Vineyard, Enfield
16 members and 1 guest, plus dog, attended the visit during which we were given a guided tour by two volunteer managers.
Forty Hall is a non-profit making organisation with staff managers continually bidding for funds. There are 10 acres of vines producing still and, from this year, sparkling wines although the sparkling wine will be of limited release. The grapes are grown naturally, with as little intervention as possible, so that the wine produced reflects the environment. Five types of grapes are grown, Ortega, Baccus, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
The guides informed us that no synthetic fungicides, herbicides or fertilisers are used. This encourages sustainability, biodiversity and natural balance. The vines grow in a living soil, free of chemical residues, drawing optimum levels of minerals from the soil, becoming stronger with better natural resistance to disease. These vines will produce fruit for years to come. Pests are controlled by biological methods such as the planned release of ladybirds which eat vine aphids and spiders. Mildew problems may also be managed with salts such as copper sulphate and elemental (not man-made) sulphur; the use of these sprays is carefully controlled and limited. Weeding is said to be the greatest problem facing the 185 volunteers and 3 team leaders.
Forty Hall’s winemaker is Will Davenport in Kent. In 2013 production was 185 bottles however in 3 years this is expected to exceed 13000.
The visit was enjoyed by all and associated discussion continued when we met afterwards at the nearby pub, The Pied Bull.

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May: Quiz Nite with Dave and Sue
Only 12 members (rest on holiday or otherwise engaged!) took part in the annual quiz nite with Dave as the quiz master. The quiz seemed a bit harder than last year but there were some very interesting questions to tax our brains. The scores were quite close for much of the evening; one team scored full marks on one round. But the ongoing round was the decider - items found in a village shop. The winning team was John, Reg and Graham Speller.
Well done to the winning team and thanks to Dave and Sue for organising the quiz.
Kevin reminded members about the Annual show in July, which will now be in Place House as the Arts Centre is double-booked.

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May: Beds & Herts Federation Show 2015
Peter, Elaine, Chris, Robert and Kevin entered the show this year; Peter, Elaine and Kevin judged, and Chris and Robert were stewards. Elaine got four 1st places and 15 other places; Peter got three 1st places (all beer) and 14 other places; Kevin got two 1st places and 11 other places; Robert got one 1st place and 1 other place; Chris got two 1st places and 4 other places. Chris also won the National Trophy for most points in the dry table and after dinner classes. Elaine was lady with most points in the wine classes and was also the overall winner of the trophy for highest points in the wine classes, with Kevin 3rd. The circle won the 3 bottles of wine for dinner class, and was the guild with most points, for the second year, with 323 points.
Full report and results on the NAWB web site.

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April: AGM followed by second round of Countries Wine Challenge
22 members (2 apologies for absence) attended the AGM. The Chairman’s report noted the club’s successes through the year quoting positions, points and trophies gained at Beds & Herts and at the National. Most notable were Peter gaining the NAWB Master Trophy and Elaine the NAWB Lady Winemaker. The club was the most successful club of the show. The report concluded with thanks to the committee and Eddie. Treasurer’s report confirmed the club’s continued healthy financial position and that once again no increase in the club membership fee was necessary. Competitions Secretary’s report thanked all members for the level of support received. Kevin announced the winner of the Founders Trophy as Peter Robinson.
Election of officers was nominated en bloc as currently standing, proposed by John and seconded by Reg and subsequently accepted by the attending members. John was nominated for the position of President and accepted unanimously. John thanked the meeting. Peter proposed a vote of thanks to Wendy (outgoing President) for her work and all members expressed agreement.

The countries for the second round of the Countries Wine Challenge were Italy & Spain. All wines were purchased from Sainsburys within a price range of £4 to £8. Click here to view the wines.
Kevin added up the scores and Spain won very convincingly. Thanks to Kevin for getting the wines.
The members were reminded about the Annual  Show, which is in July. There is a special recipe class included. Click here for the recipe. Entry forms can also be found via the Annual show page. Members were also reminded about the Beds & Herts show on May 9th.

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March: National Show at Mercure Hotel, Hull

Peter and Elaine R, Kevin, Robert and Susan, and Carol went to the 57th National show at Coventry. See the NAWB website for the full results and photos.
The Circle had fantastic success at the recent National Association of Wine & Beermakers(NAWB) annual show, held in Hull. The 5 members entering between them achieved one third of the points available in terms of places in the Show. This is a record win by any Wine Circle at this show. The Circle was awarded 17 trophies!
Peter Robinson, after 16 years of trying, won the Master Winemakers Cup as most successful winemaker and the NAWB Master Trophy, as overall champion with the most points in the wine and beer classes. To make it a family success, his wife Elaine was champion lady winemaker. Three other members: Kevin Martin, Chris Evans and Robert Fergus were all successful with their entries and contributed to Ware’s winning of the Amateur Winemaker’s Shield for the most successful Circle in the show. The Circle also won the Sweet ‘N’ dry cup.
Peter, Elaine and Kevin are National wine judges. Judges can enter special classes; Elaine won the Cedric Austin cup for best in Judge’s wine class and Kevin won the Sybil Hill cup for best in judge’s beer class.
Kevin took most of Peter and Elaine's trophies home!

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March: Fruit Syrup Wines by Kevin
20 members and 1 guest were present. A warm welcome was extended to John, attending after a period of ill health.
Before the judging of the wines began Peter B presented a brief summary of the Save The Southern Maltings Group meeting on 11th March 2015. The SSMG proposal is to convert the building into an arts centre housing permanent arts and crafts studios on the ground floor with rooms on the first floor available for hire. The group have until mid-July ’15 to put forward a viable, financially assessed business plan to East Herts DC the success of which depends upon the group securing both sufficient funds and professional input. Failure to achieve this target is likely to result in East Herts selling part of the building. Peter pointed out that should the proposed conversion go ahead there would be a degree of disruption to our club.
Kevin thanked Peter and took the meeting forward into the judging of the fruit syrup wines. At an earlier meeting Kevin had provided bottles of assorted Polish fruit syrups (blackcurrant, raspberry, strawberry & cranberry) to ten club members along with the recipe for a medium dry rosé. Ten entries had been received and Kevin thanked the members for the response.
The bottles were anonymously labelled A to J and standard format judging sheets distributed. Members sampled the wines one by one and allocated points for clarity, colour, bouquet and flavour/balance. Upon collection of the judging sheets Kevin announced the top four places as follows:
First: Colin; Second: Peter R; Third: Chris; Joint Fourth: Robert, Kevin and Peter B.
Thanks to Kevin for organising the evening.

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February: Mudlarks Community Garden by Victoria Hobson (written by Chris)
Eleven members attended the meeting with a number of members on holiday and two apologies for absence due to other commitments. Vic Hobson, the guest speaker, presented a slide show and spoke about Mudlarks, a Hertford community gardening charity. Vic explained that their aim was to integrate people with learning difficulties and mental health issues into the community through gardening. The project has progressed from acquiring unmaintained Hertford Council allotments in 2008, gaining approval from social services and developing to a present day fully functional organisation harvesting fruit and vegetables for distribution to deserving local elderly with the surplus produce supplying Mudlarks own vegetarian café in Hertford. Vic went on to explain that social & therapeutic horticulture has proven successful in giving people a “sense of flow” and a reason to get up in the mornings. In addition, with the aid of staff and external volunteers, the organisation has won the Hertford Town Council contract for public gardens and has a community team offering gardening assistance to local residents.
Kevin thanked Vic for her talk and commented on behalf of the club that Mudlarks efforts were for a very good cause.
In conclusion Kevin reminded members of future competition and show dates and issued a selection of recipes for the September competition.

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January: A Chardonnay World Tour Winetasting by Kevin (written by Chris & Kevin)
13 members attended the meeting on a cold January evening, fewer than usual due to holidays. With both the Chairman and Treasurer gathering essential overseas wine and beer experiences, Kevin, our Competition Secretary, took control of the meeting. Kevin presented a selection of Chardonnays from around the globe which he had purchased from his local Lidl and Tesco. These wines were tasted by members in order of ascending price which ranged from £3.99 to £8.99 and preferences were discussed. By majority vote one of the lower priced wines, i.e. South African Cape Peak Chardonnay at £4.49 from Tesco, was considered to be the best value for money.
The members also enjoyed a small quiz on Chardonnay, had find as many words as possible from an anagram of Chardonnay and enjoyed reading two pages of wine humour and quotes.
The wines were as follows:
Cimarosa, South East Australia 13% Lidl £3.99
Vineyards, Chile 12.5% Tesco £3.99
Cape Peak, South Africa 12.5% Tesco £4.49
Chevalier de Fauvert, France 13% Lidl $4.99
Corte Del Drago, Italy 13.5% Lidl £8.49
Chablis Yonne Burgundy, France 12.5% Lidl £8.99


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Last updated: 03/01/17
Copyright: 2001 WWBC