Grapevine Archive for Bleasdale

Mon 21 Nov 2011

‘Tis the Season!

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Emma Howat

Ironically, Christmas is often seen as a period of intense stress: be it how to get the whole family round the Christmas table, or indeed even in the same house, who to invite over for your New Year’s Eve bash, or (as I found to my horror last year) the last-minute realisation that the turkey won’t fit into what you realise belatedly is an unfeasibly small oven. In amongst all this chaos it is very easy to forget one of the most important components of a successful festive season – the wine!

The ‘Tis the Season tastings were designed to take the stress and hassle out of this time of year. In a break from the usual formats of The Wine Society’s tastings, the events were divided not by style or region, but by festive event: aperitifs – Champagne, Cava and Sherry – were followed by the party wine section in which we suggested crowd-pleasing reds and whites on a more modest budget which can be drunk in any occasion.

The Christmas Day selection recongised that this day is always the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to something a bit special, whilst the Boxing Day and beyond section showcased wines to liven up those inevitable turkey leftovers. Finally we showed some fortified and sticky wines with which you can curl up on the sofa; perfect for when everyone has finally gone to bed, and you have a moment to sit and engage in the quiet contemplation of a box of chocolates.

The Bradford tasting was a relaxed and informal gathering, and with only 45 members there, all had ample opportunity to try all the wines and discuss their relative merits at length. There was a great atmosphere and everyone seemed to find at least one wine that they really liked. Following the tasting the three of us from The Society went in search of a good curry, never hard to find in Bradford, and I am pleased to announce that following some rigorous testing, the 2009 Bruno Sorg Gewurztraminer is indeed a good match.

It’s been a few years since we were last at King’s Lynn, and it was great to see such a good turnout of members, all of whom again seemed to be enjoying themselves. We held the tasting at the Town Hall’s Assembly Rooms, a beautiful venue which whilst being on the cosy side, made the tasting all the more friendly!

Bleasdale's 'The Wise One' Tawny once again showed its festive credentials

We try and get up to Scotland every six months and so on this occasion we chose Perth and Glasgow. The Perth tasting was a nice gentile affair for the most part; the venue was the Concert Hall, an amazing modern building right in the centre of town, with unsurprisingly fantastic acoustics. The wines showed well. The Champagne Marc Hébrart was a winner on both nights, albeit not the overall winner – that accolade went to the McHenry Hohnen Rocky Road Zinfandel. This lovely anomaly (it is Australian rather than Californian) has ranked amongst the members’ favourites in every tasting it’s been shown at so far and its impressive stuff.

Glasgow’s tasting took place in the Trades’ Hall in the Merchant City, in a beautiful old, wood-panelled hall. There were 150 of us in all and the evening was much more raucous than Perth (in a good way of course, being members of The Society!). Here the noisiest vote went to the Bleasdale’s ‘The Wise One’ Tawny. This fortified wine is another example of what fantastic wines are being produced in Australia, albeit with a slightly scary label (if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean!).

Thanks to all members who attended. We had a fantastic time and hope you found some great wines to enjoy this festive season.

Emma Howat
Tastings & Events Co-ordinator

Categories : Wine Tastings
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Mon 24 Oct 2011

Uncle Dick: ‘The Wise One’ of Bleasdale

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'Uncle Dick' Potts, as depicted on the label of The Wise One 10 Year-Old Tawny

Bleasdale’s The Wise One 10 Year-Old Tawny, which is exclusive to The Society in the UK, has become quite a talking point since its release. Mostly (and quite rightly) concerning what’s inside the bottle.

This delicious Aussie fortified wine stopped me in my tracks at the winery last year and I bought it immediately. It’s made in the style of a Tawny Port using grenache, shiraz and verdelho before being aged in barrels placed next to the winery’s hot tin roof. It will appeal to fans of Port, Madeira and sweet wine, and critics such as Jancis Robinson and Fiona Beckett have already reviewed the wine favourably.

However there has also been some conjecture about the rather quirky label, which depicts Bleasdale’s own ‘Wise One’, Richard Potts, better known as Uncle Dick. We asked Bleasdale to give us a little more information.

Uncle Dick was the youngest of Bleasdale founder Frank Potts’ eight sons. He left school at the age of 12 and claimed never to have worked a full day in his life, funding his various (rather eccentric, it would appear) pastimes with his inheritance. He died in 1956.

His purported prowess is detailed in the autobiographical song ‘Oh, Drinkin’ (Don’t mind if I do)’. Feel free to sing along should you wish, and do try The Wise One. I think it’s the perfect Christmas drink, and for £10.50 for a full 75cl bottle, you get a lot of wine for your money.

This is the story of old Dick Potts,
The wise one if you may,
He left school at the age of 12
and he never worked a day.

He’d open his umbrella to the wind,
to propel his bike along.
In his very deep baritone voice
he’d sing his favorite drinkin’ song.

Oh, Drinkin’ (Don’t mind if I do).

While those around him sweltered,
In the relentless summer heat,
He’d pour cold water in his knee high boots
and walk proudly down the street.

He spent his life at the winery
that he inherited from his pop,
To keep the old Dick warm in the winter
he’d put his mattress on the boiler top.

Oh, Drinkin’ (Don’t mind if I do).

Categories : Australia
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