Christmas Lunch 2014

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The Christmas Lunch, the final HMWS wine event of the year is not only a convivial social gathering but an occasion to drink some really good wine. This year it was on Sunday 7 December at the Masonic Hall in Harrogate and was attended by 40 Members (61.5% of the membership & 69% of the attendees) and 18 guests.



1. Champagne Théonot NV


Champagne Thiénot was founded in 1985 and is based in Taissy, near Reims. It is part of the Alain Thiénot Group, owner of different brands such as Canard-DuchêneJoseph Perrier and Marie Stuart. Vineyards span 27 hectares, of which half are classified as Grand Cru and Premier Cru:

2. Chamonix Reserve White 2012, Frenschhoek, South Africa

“Eat your hechamonix_reserve-5.jpgart out, Pessac-Léognan. I tasted this wine blind while researching my article Oaked Sauvignons – what works? and would not have been remotely surprised if it had turned out to be a wine of the calibre and appeal of a Ch Smith Haut Lafitte or Pape Clément, average price approx £50 and £80 a bottle respectively.

Franschhoek and Sémillon is a great combination, as Boekenhoutskloof’s varietal Sémillon has long shown. At Chamonix the must is cold-macerated on the skins for up to 24 hours before being fermented in French oak barrels, about half of them new  – but there is no heavy-handed oak influence in the wine. The wine is then aged on lees for 11 months.

The 2012 is a little richer than the 2013 and is over 14% alcohol but certainly isn’t heavy and has a beautiful smooth texture. There is none of the oily oakiness that can mark some of the less accomplished white Pessac-Léognans. This Chamonix white blend would make a great first-course wine for a grand feast – and is probably too substantial to be drunk as an aperitif. Pure class – and value. For what it’s worth, I gave the wine a score of 17.5 and reckon it should continue to provide great drinking over the next five or six years. I note that Chamonix’s own website, from which this beautiful image is taken, suggests that the wine reaches its peak at five years old. Chamonix has tourist accommodation, a game farm, hosts weddings and all that caboodle.” – Jancis Robinson MW, 22 August 2014

3. Seresin Rachel Pinot Noir 2011

3750-05_NVThe fruit comes from the clay rich hillside Raupo Creek vineyard and the alluvial shingles of Tatou vineyard as well as the Home vineyard. Each vine is thinned to carry one bunch per shoot. Clones are 115, 777, 5, 667

After hand-picking, the fruit was hand-sorted before being de-stemmed and cooled. After a pre-fermentation soaking period the juice was allowed to warm and fermentation started with wild yeast. During fermentation the caps were hand-plunged daily. The wine was then left to sit on skins for two weeks for post ferment maceration; a total of four weeks was spent in contact with the skins. It was then drained and lightly pressed before being transferred to French barriques, approximately twenty percent of which were new. The wine went through natural malolactic fermentation during 12 months spent maturing in barrel, before being bottled unfiltered and without fining. The finished wine has an alcohol of 14.0 percent, pH of 3.65, and 5.70g/L titratable acid.

The nose exhibits aromas of black cherry, truffle and chocolate. The palate is concentrated and full with savoury, spicy herbal notes and underlying fruit power. The tannins are fine and mouth-coating, the finish persistent. This wine is delicate yet powerful and can be drunk now until 2024.

4. Torres Mas La Plana 2009

Banner-MaslaPLanaIn this small (29 ha.) vineyard only the most select Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown. These are used to make strictly limited quantities of Torres’ most prestigious red wine, now known to connoisseurs all over the world. In the Paris Wine Olympiad, the 1970 vintage triumphed over some of the most famouswines in the world, including Chateau Latour. This success has been repeated on several other occasions, with Gran Coronas Mas La Plana notching up numerous other international awards.

5. Blandy’s 10 year old Bual

s_3008_Bual_10_YOMade from the Bual grape, Blandy’s 10 year old Medium Rich Bual underwent fermentation off the skins with natural yeast at temperatures between 18°C – 21°C in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After approximately 3 days, fortification with grape brandy takes place, arresting fermentation at the desired degree of sweetness.

Blandy’s 10 Year Old Bual was aged for 10 years in seasoned American oak casks in the traditional ‘Canteiro’ system, whereby the casks of this wine are gradually transferred from the top floors of the lodge, where it is naturally warmer, to the middle floors and eventually to the ground floor where it is cooler. During this totally natural ageing, the wine underwent regular racking before finally being bottled.

 Specifications are: Alcohol 19% ABV, pH 3.47, Baume degree (20oC) 3.4, Volatile Acidity 0.60 g/l.

Blandy’s 10 year old Bual is fined and does not require decanting. It is a fine accompaniment to dessert dishes, especially fruit, cakes, rich chocolate puddings and cheeses. It has been bottled when ready for drinking and will keep for several months after opening. It is a clear, amber colour with tinges of gold on the rim. The nose is complex with great intensity, revealing a bouquet of dried fruits such as figs and prunes, with notes of almonds and oak and subtle hints of toffee and vanilla spice. The palate is sumptuous, medium sweet and very smooth with a superb balance of coffee and fruit flavours with a clean and sharp acidity. Lovely persistent aftertaste.


Balsamic beetroot and goats cheese tartlet
Cured herb salmon, horseradish creme fraiche and granary bread
French onion soup with croque monsieure

Traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings
Seabass with julienne vegetables, Pernod and herb butter
Slow cooked lamb shank with mashed potato and madeira jus

Traditional Christmas pudding and rum sauce
Sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream
Vanilla cheesecake with berry compote


Tea/Coffee with Torres 10 Brandy


  • Harrogate Masonic Hall, Station Ave, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 5NE
  • Doors opened at noon
  • Tables were for 10/12
  • Some members brought their own Riedel glasses and extra wine. The Society covered corkage
  • The cost of the event was £47.50 for Members of the HMWS and £52.50 for guests

18 thoughts on “Christmas Lunch 2014

  1. Good morning from New Zealand! What lovely news… I hope your tasting is most enjoyable and suitably festive! Wishing you all the very best” – Kat (Wiggins), Seresin Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand, 10 November


  2. Dear Dr Bernard Dias,
    Thank you for your huge compliment.
    It is a wine that is not generally very well understood in the new world!
    May it bring great joy to the rest of your distinguished tasting group at the Harrogate Medical Wine Society Christmas tasting lunch.
    Warm Regards.
    Jeremy Karsen
    Chamonix Estate, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa


  3. Thanks again for organising a brilliant Christmas lunch yesterday. Superb wines, of course, and excellent food and service – all enjoyed in great company.
    We had a very quiet evening after that!
    All the best to you and Ramani.

    Tony and Sian (Gamble), Harrogate


  4. Excellent Meeting of Friends on Sunday! Good food – super Wines – and the Best of Company!! I certainly had a very happy time. And what did I do to deserve such a wonderful bottle of wine?? Thank you very much Bernard for organising such a “do ” and for all the time and effort you give to making HMWS such a successful Society.- Gwynneth (Owen), Leeds, 8 December


  5. Excellent wine, excellent food and excellent company, what better way to start the Christmas season.
    Thank you Bernard for all your hard work over the year to make the HMWS so enjoyable.
    Best Wishes
    Tony & Renna


  6. Another superb occasion. Many thanks for all the thought which you put into the selection of superb wines in generous supply, to accompany the well presented menu choices. Overall a “vintage” luncheon, the hallmark of HMWS.
    Many thanks Bernard


  7. Thank you,once again Bernard for starting Christmas celebrations with a quite exceptional lunch, superb food, lovely company, excellent wines and wonderful atmosphere. If you missed this event with HMWS, book now for next year!
    Best regards to all for Xmas from Tony and Jackie (Stanier)


  8. Just to say another wonderful start to Christmas, enjoyed it all so much, good food, good wine and most of all good company. Thank you for all your efforts on Sunday and over the past year, its all very much appreciated.
    2015 looks good too, a programme of delights.
    – Jane Greenwood, Leeds


  9. Dear Bernard, Thank you for an especially enjoyable Christmas lunch, put together with your usual style and panache; hope we can include the dancing bit it as part of next year’s celebration too!!
    Gail Bent and John Armstrong


  10. Charles and I both thoroughly enjoyed the HMWS Xmas party on Sunday. Excellent food, delicious wines and company, who could want for more. You always put on successful events and we all look forward to further adventures with you travelling and tasting good wines and eating nice food.
    – Ann & Charles (Joslin), Harrogate, 9 December


  11. Our sincere thanks for the good fellowship and fun we all enjoyed at the Christmas Lunch last Sunday.
    The expert matching of food and wine was an excellent way to end the Society’s year on a high note.
    We can now look forward to another exciting programme in 2015. – Alisdair & Elma (Stewart), Harrogate


  12. “Once again we all had a great end to the year with the HMWS lunch. The venue lends itself to a great time and the staff are quietly effective in plating the well cooked and tasty food. The wines were all great memories from the last year or so. Whilst not the most expensive the Chamonix Reserve White, with its extra Semillon, was outstanding, it shows how a maker moving outside the normal rules can produce an exceptional wine, the many letters which I have read show how the members value the Society and appreciate the many hours you put in on our behalf. Many thanks for a great Sunday meal with good friends, good food and superb wines. We look forward to Spain in March and June, and possibly Chile at the end of the year.” – Stephen (Cameron), Pick Hill


  13. “Thank you for organising such a lovely lunch on Sunday. We enjoyed all aspects food, wine and company. My family all want to add their thanks too. A really good start to the Christmas season. Thank you for all your hard work. Best wishes” – Carol ad Peter (Murphy), Ackworth


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