Wednesday, 9 April 2014

An amazing weekend in Oxford

As my regular blog readers know I love organising events and holidays - recently for Aimetu's Stitching which was great fun.

Anyway I have been a member of Tesco Wine Community for a few years, a great place to chat with fellow wine lovers and Tesco offer many tasting opportunities which have helped improve my wine knowledge. We have visited 7 or 8 of their annual Wine Fairs but have never managed to meet the other members so I decided to offer to arrange a 'meet up'.

I emailed various hotels, who whilst offering great room rates for staying over and had wonderful meeting rooms, quoted prices as high as £25 corkage a bottle for us to try our wines !! Thankfully Jackie, another TWC member, is a PhD student at Oxford University and arranged a meeting room for the afternoon and guest rooms for our stay - it was a really lovely venue.

The plan for the day was to meet everyone, follow Jackie on a short tour of Oxford grabbing a tum lining lunch, share and discuss wines we had each brought along, Chinese meal and bed !! All was planned and we were ready to go.

However I was then amazed to receive an email from Trivento Wines offering us a tasting of some wines from their range, along with their Cono Sur, Bonterra and Casillo del Diablo partner wines. An amazing offer which I gratefully accepted.

So after excitedly greeting the other TWC members, the planned tour of Oxford with lunch (more later), Jackie showing us to our rooms and the wonderful meeting room, we didn't have long before Ben from Trivento arrived accompanied by these lovelies:

Trivento selection
But before expanding on these I must add a few notes: wine needs cheese and nibbles so I also brought along biscuits, cheese, pate, walnuts and 'replacement' antipasti. It was replacement because I had bought a lovely platter from Lidl's new range - not far from leaving home, just as we hit the main country road out of town, Hubby casually asked 'did you put anything on the roof' - the antipasti platter - last seen flying off down the road behind us !!

Dave and Agnes 'safely' bought along some Spanish meats and cheese, and Ed, Clive and Julie brought some goodies too - making quite a platter.

Oh can you spot the 'large' bottle of Lanson? Helen McGinn author of The Knackered Mother's Wine Club had met Steve and Steph at a previous event and kindly sent on this lovely bottle of bubbly to get us going - it certainly met the challenge.

Lanson White Label - gift from Helen McGinn

So back to Ben and his lovely range of wine; 3 whites and 3 reds. They were lovely and it was such fun sitting together to sample them, comparing colours, noses and tastes. I have unfortunately mislaid my tasting notes - good excuse to try them again - so the notes are from memory, just hope I've not mixed any up, pinot noir is a white wine isn't it?

Casillero del Diablo Devil's Collection Reserva - this was a new wine to me, Casillero del Diablo but with a striking new label 
Cono Sur 20 Barrels sauvignon blanc it was so interesting to learn how the brand got it's original name - 20 barrels left so the vintner made a new wine. Being a sauvignon blanc fan this was my favourite.
Bonterra chardonnay - I can't remember it really, maybe I was refilling the water karafes in the kitchen :)
Cono Sur Bicicleta pinot noir a light red in colour - plenty of notes on their link
Trivento Malbec Reserve a crimson colour which looked like velvet in the glass, lots of blackberries with a hint of spice and vanilla
Trivento Malbec Grand Reserve this was everyone's favourite, deep red in colour, dark fruits and a lovely warm smooth finish.

From the left: Hubby Nick, Clive, Julie, Steph, Steve,
Jackie, Dave, Agnes (hiding), Ed and of course Ben
Jackie has kindly forwarded his notes which I have added as a separate page - Trivento at Oxford.

We spent a lovely hour chatting away - a great group. To thank Ben (and Jackie for the venue) I had put together a little goody bag each - Hobgoblin beer and chocolate. It was quite difficult to think of a gift for a man but not give wine - you'll see why Hobgoblin later.

So now to our wine and all those nibbles. I have to confess here that I cannot remember everyone's wine, hopefully we will be emailing each other as it would be great to find them again to enjoy at home.

We took it in turns to present our choices - Jackie is a member of the Oxford Wine Society and has learnt quite a lot in his time at the University, he presented these two lovely wines from his cellar.

German Riesling
Pinot Noir 
These two wines were lovely, however quite a surprise. I'm not a Riesling fan, either Old World or New World but this German wine was so smooth. The other wine was a surprisingly dark coloured pinot noir, full of flavour and body.

I'm not even sure who went next but Dave bought two Spanish wines - one actually from Spain. I was very pleased he had as my main experience of Spanish wine is rioja which is not always to my liking. I enjoyed both these Spanish bottles and will now maybe start to look at others.

A Spanish one from Dave and Agnes

Reds on the table - the whites were resting in the fridge

A beautiful white from Clive and Julie - it was a 2005
that he'd laid down
Loire Valley white and red brought over
from our holidays in France
I didn't get photos of Steve and Steph's wines or Ed's but all the wines sampled were very, very good - we counted up and overall there were 19 bottles which for just 10 people made a 'nice' ratio hic hic

It was a brilliant afternoon of sampling, eating, chatting, laughing - as you can see from the nibbles after shot.
Yum Yum
A few days before the event Tesco sent on a case of their wine for us too. Unfortunately with Trivento visiting and all our own wine already chosen it was just impossible to include these in our tastings - so we divided the case up and had a couple of bottles each to take home and enjoy. The case was the Finest Party Case Mixed Dozen which contains three bottles of each 4 wines. Resting in our cellar is now a Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, and a Mundulla Shiraz from Australia. It was a nice gift to take home, thanks to Tesco Wine Community.

My Tesco wines to enjoy at home
Back tracking to our visit into Oxford - we had time for a quick stroll round looking at the beautiful Cotswold buildings before enjoying a lunch. It's a beautiful place.

Small windows with intricate carving

A massive outside wall of identical panels

The most important church in Oxford - if you
live more than 3 miles from here you cannot
study at the University
On our tour

Old square church tower, intricate clock and bells
with a hexagonal building next door
Oxford has some amazing architecture
Wolfson College, where we stayed, is on the banks of the River Cherwell and our meeting room had glorious views of the river watching punters go up and down. There was plenty of wildlife too with a pair of nesting swans and some Canadian geese. Hubby and I enjoyed a coffee sitting on the college patio on Sunday morning before meeting up again to say our goodbyes. A beautiful setting complimented by gorgeous wines shared in really great company - cheers !
Beautiful view
Everyone (just) survived our very 'full' Saturday and Sunday morning we went our separate ways; Jackie to work, Ed, Steph and Steve set off home; Dave and Agnes went back into Oxford for the day; and Clive, Julie, Hubby and I moved over to Witney, just 20 minutes down the road - another beautiful Cotswold town. The main reason for our visit was Wychwood Brewery - home of Hobgoblin beer (remember the goody bags)

Witney market place

Witney church and cross

Cotswold high street
After a lovely lunch at Café Rouge arrived at Wychwood for their afternoon tour. Hubby and I have been before but it was Clive and Julie's first tour of a brewery. The Tap is a small bar room on the ground floor where we were greeted and offered a half pint of Hobgoblin or other Wychwood beer. A 45 minute very informative tour followed, including tasting the barley at various levels of roasting, and although as I said we've been before (and to other breweries) there is always more to learn. The smell as you go around is amazing. It's quite a small brewery still brewed in the traditional way with many of the original vats and equipment.

After the tour we returned to The Tap to sample their range - well not quite all the range but at least 6. As I was driving Hubby had double samplings - no complaints though ! My favourite in their range is Black Wych a lovely stout and Ginger Beard. They also produce Brakspear beer and we all enjoyed a sample of their Triple III.

Behind the bar - me, Hubby, Julie and Clive
Hubby and I also popped into the Majestic in Witney - we don't have one near us. It was very similar to the store at Calais with a great range. We did bring a case home but made up of three wines of our choice -

Paul Mas Marsanne, The Ned Sauvignon Blanc and Paul Mas Syrah-Viognier

An absolutely amazing weekend, everyone played a part in making it such fun to meet for the first time (although after five minutes you'd have thought we were long lost friends)
One to be repeated I'm sure - thank you everyone x x


  1. Looks like all went well, I bet you'll be having more of these wonderful tastings to come in the future.

  2. Sounds like you had a great time.
    I've tried the two Malbec wines and they are lovely :-)


I'm so pleased you're enjoying my travel and wine ramblings - I love reading your replies too, thank you for posting a comment