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The Wine Society Press Tasting

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The Wine Society held a press tasting event on 21 March 2024 in London, showcasing a curated selection of about 100 wines. This introduced the newest wines and vintages within their core range, alongside a special 150th range designed to commemorate the Society’s 150th anniversary.

These are the wines that particularly stood out for me together with my notes:

Black Chalk Classic English Sparkling 2020
and
Black Chalk Rose 2020
These English Sparkling wines from Hampshire, from a classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes have an ABV of 12.5% and have been aged for at least 18 months on the lees. They deliver a delightful mix of apple, pear and floral notes with a biscuity finish. The Rosé variant offers a slightly sweeter taste with red fruit flavours. In the tasting, when compared with two Champagnes, these wines not only competed admirably but had more taste and body, showcasing the rising status in the production of English sparkling. £43.00.

Generation Series Orvieto Classico 2023
The Barberani winery in Umbria, Italy, creates this wine made entirely from Grechetto grapes, with a 12% ABV. This wine merges grapes from two parcels, harvested two weeks apart. The vines sit on ancient alluvial deposits that add depth to the wine’s character. It features vibrant citrus notes, complemented by robust floral aromatics, including green apple, pear and a slight pineapple taste. Part of the Generation Series 2. £12.95.

Generation Series Tokaji Furmint 2021
A dry style Furmint from the Pajzos Winery with a 14% ABV, distinguished by its partial barrel maturation, which adds weight and complexity beyond the typical profile of dry Furmint. It features a rich aromatic blend of lime and toasted notes, complemented by the flavours of dried apricot and minerality, culminating in a long, satisfying finish. Part of the Generation Series 2. £13.50.

Domaine François d’Allaines, Santenay Blanc ‘Les Bras’ 2020
This wine, made from 100% Chardonnay with a 12.5% ABV, skillfully combines a slight citrus and stone fruit flavours with delicate oak, a nutty essence and a creamy texture. It boasts a rich, ripe profile with a lightly buttery finish, all while maintaining excellent balance. £25.50.

Domaine Jérôme Fornerot, Saint-Aubin Champ Tirant 2020
This 100% Chardonnay wine, barrel fermented and matured for 12 months, offers appley aromas and taste, with a good length and 13.5% ABV. The barrel fermentation and maturation process enhances its complexity, richness and body. £29.00.

Generation Rioja Blanco Reserva 2018
This wine from Bodega Hacienda Lopez de Haro, with a 12.5% ABV, blends indigenous Rioja grapes, predominantly Viura, along with Malvasia, Tempranillo Blanco, Garnacha Blanca, and Turruntés. It features a strong floral aroma complemented by a rich, fruity taste, leading to a good finish. Typically, I find white Rioja challenging to enjoy, but this one has won me over. Part of the Generation Series 2. £13.95.

Rose d’Anjou Grolleau-Gamay, Famille Bougrier 2023
The 80% Grolleau and 20% Gamay Rosé from the Loire with an 11% ABV stood out among the six Rosé wines I tasted, impressing with its pale raspberry colour, aromatic presence and off-dry profile. Dominated by fruity aromas and crushed strawberry flavours, it leaves a lasting impression. £8.25.

Alma de Cattleya Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2021
Produced by Alma de Catteya in California, this 100% Pinot Noir, with a 14% ABV, captivates with its perfumed aroma and flavours of fresh red-berry fruit, complemented by restrained oak and a slightly spiced finish. Again, I am not usually drawn to Pinor Noir but loved this one. £32.00.

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Classica Gran Reserva Rioja 2005
This wine, a blend of 82% Tempranillo and 8% Garnacha with a 14% ABV, comes from old vines and has been aged for 3.5 years in French oak, offering a distinctive oaky aroma. It features a well-rounded taste of black fruit, tobacco and cedarwood, complemented by a smooth, mellow and spicy profile with medium, well-balanced tannins. £36.00

Generation Series Australian Cabernet Merlot 2022
From Bleasdale Vineyards, this wine with a 13.5% ABV showcases red berry, black olive and plum flavours, tasting more like Merlot part than Cabernet and actually, for me, more resembles a good Carménère. Part of the Generation Series 2. Excellent value at £9.50.

Whistler Wines ‘Shiver’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021
This wine, with a lower than typical 13.7% ABV for Shiraz, is uniquely crafted through foot-trodding and wild fermentation, offering a contemporary Shiraz style that emphasises freshness over jamminess. With a flavour profile marked by black pepper and juicy blackberry notes, it delivers a dynamic taste and a strong finish. £21.00.

The Generation Series 2 from The Wine Society is shaping up to be an exceptional range, offering a unique collection of wines that pay tribute to its storied history. This innovative series is being unveiled in four distinct stages, with each part representing a 50-year period of The Society’s legacy. The final part will, intriguingly, offer a vision of the future.

The Wine Society is reporting a notable success with sales exceeding expectations by 14%, highlighting its popularity and improved operational efficiency. It offers an expansive range of 1600 wines, available for exploration on their website. The completion of a new warehouse enhances their distribution capacity, supporting growth. The Wine Society features a great selection of wines priced under £10, catering to a wide audience seeking quality at an affordable price.

The Wine Society, established in 1874, is the oldest member-owned wine community, emphasising member interests over profit. Members, including myself, found services like online tastings especially beneficial during the pandemic. Membership is acquired through a one-time fee of £40, granting a share in the society and offering £20 off the first order. Members enjoy access to exclusive tastings and events, and a standout benefit is the free UK delivery on all orders, even for one bottle.