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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-Duchêne, Joseph 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 heart 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
The 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
In 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
Made 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 5NEPhone:01423 504473
- 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