Tuesday, 9 December 2014

100 Wine Challenge - Grande Finale

I cannot believe we actually achieved this - when I heard my voice say 'I'll do a wine tasting of 100 wines' I did think ...... impossible !

However we did it - 5 events filled with fun, laughter and of course wine. If you missed my previous blogs catch up with the story here:

There are many many companies and individuals that have helped along the way: mentions and links are in my previous blogs and I will be including a few more today, but I have to say a massive thank you to.......

my hubby Nick

as without his support this challenge would not even have been started - thank you Nick.

Grande Finale ready, steady, GO!!
Round 3 was a little light on tasters and so I moved 6 wines to the Grade Finale making it a 26 bottle wine tasting, no-one seemed to mind - and so we started with......

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne - donated by ourselves but available in most UK
supermarkets. We love this champagne with it's biscuity taste, small fast flowing bubbly and lighter dryness than some bubbly. We've visited Nicolas Feuillatte in Epernay, France.

Symington Family Estates White Port - donated by Kay & Colin Jacks. This was a first tasting for everyone, served well chilled it makes a lovely aperitif.
Being the festive season we continued with bubbles - two bottles both made in the traditional method but for opposite sides of the world.

Yellow Tails Bubbles - Calais Wine - an Australian fizz filled with lively bubbles, tropical fruits, and a slight sweetness.
Freixenet Cordon Negro - donated by Freixenet - a Spanish bubbly filled with lemon,      pear and peach flavour.
Sparkling wine is said to go really well with fish and chips and the bubbles cut through the oil and salt. That being said we had crisps to try with these sparklers; ready salted and salt & vinegar. The salted crisps worked really well, the vinegar ones not so much.
Moving on to try 8 white wines - all ready to be opened after chilling for a few hours in the fridge. The ladies always prefer the whites, the men the reds but over the 100 there have been a few of each that the opposite sexes have enjoyed.
Il Papvero Pinot Grigio   - available from Laithwaites but donated in honour of Ron Mellor who was the stalwart of both groups for over 60 years. He would have loved the 100 celebrations that have happened over the year; especially the wine tasting.
McGuigan Classic Pinot Grigio 2014 -  Tesco - due to being opposite side of the world this wine was produced in 2014 which is our northern hemisphere seems early, our 2014 grapes will not be on the shelves until 2015... confusing?
Hardy's Varietal Range Chardonnay  - Pidou - this Australian wine with its melon and peach flavours and crisp, dry finish was a favourite with the ladies.
 Retsina - Tesco - this wine was one saved from our Europe round. Retsina is an acquired taste and can be superb in the summer heat in Greece, it didn't work quite so well in Nuneaton in November !
Beberana Carta de Plata - donated by Tesco - no longer available this white was a Spanish wine which was light and fruity,
Castillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc  - Pidou - a favourite brand from Chile, the Devil's Cellar produces great wine, this sauvignon blanc being one.
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc  - Calais Wine - this fine example of New Zealand wine was a favourite with some of the men as well as the ladies. It's nose is full of gooseberries which follow through in taste along with lemons and limes.
Pouilly Fume Sauvignon Blanc - donated by Gill and James Platt - this superb wine from the Loire Valley, France is one of the best in theTesco finest range. As with all sauvignon blancs it has a gooseberry and lemon nose but it's taste is creamy with a smokey edge.

A wonderful variety of white wines from around the world, higher in value and taste than some of our previous rounds, definitely worthy of our Grande Finale, and to finish off the other part of our 100 Challenge it was time for our last 20 cheeses.
Our final  20 selection of cheeses
It's been quite a challenge to source so many different cheeses over the 5 tastings, it certainly helped being able to bring back the French cheeses last time and for this tasting the Christmas fruit varieties were available. I have added a page at the top of my blog of all the 100 cheeses and a separate page for the 100 wines.  After enjoying such a spread it was time to move onto rosé wine.
Yellow Tails Pink Moscato - Pidou - a slight fizz with natural sweetness and strawberry flavours with hints of sherbet, a huge hit with the ladies.
Marques de Carano Granache & Shiraz 2011 - Tesco - a Spanish rosé which was slightly dryer, flavours of grapefruit and cranberry.
As this was a special tasting we included a dessert wine - not something we drink often but is a must in out house at Christmas or when having a special meal. It really does finish a meal off perfectly and none so better than this.
Brown Brother's Orange Flora and Muscat - Co-op - full of orange blossom and tangy fruits, it's like melting marmalade and perfect for desserts. On the recommendation of Olly Smith we tried it with Cadbury's Crunchie - wow it was delicious.  

Time had finally arrived for the final 11 - all red with plenty of punch. As mentioned before my Dad would have really enjoyed the 100 year celebrations and I know would have been so proud of everyone in the group; all the Leaders, Committee Members, friends and family work so hard - all volunteers giving their time, money and dedication - all very much appreciated by the youngsters judging by the laughter and noise at any meeting night, activity or camp. The first red was again in honour of Dad; this was his favourite red, in fact his favourite wine overall.
Il Papavero - Laithwaites - an Italian full of ripe red fruit with lots of character
Hardy's Varietal Range Cabernet Sauvignon - Pidou - an easy drinking Australian red, full of dark fruit with a slight oakiness. A regular choice of some of our tasters.
Castillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon - Pidou - this Chilean cabernet is smoother with more blackcurrant and cherry flavours. It's finish has hints of coffee and chocolate.
Yellow Tails Shiraz - Pidou - this wine variety is always a favourite with the men with its spicy kick. It's a deeper wine with dark fruits, spice and a hint of liquorice. To go with it's spice I served gingerbread; mixed opinions on the matching but it was fun to try.
McGuigan Classic Shiraz - Majestic - another deep red which we also tried with the gingerbread. As well as the deep fruit, spice, liquorice this shiraz is oaked with slight tannins.
Astrale - Morrison's - this Italian blend was one from the Europe tasting. We have tried this wine before and were very taken with it - quite a smooth red considering it's 14% depth.
Cepa Lebrel Rioja - donated by Derrin Stupmanis - this is available in Lidl and is a good example of this popular Spanish wine. I served it with chorizo again as the spicy sausage brings out the spicy richness in the wine.
Chianti - Lidl - another wine saved from the summer round, this was a good example of Italian chianti, not heavy which some of the ladies surprised themselves and led them to like a red wine.
 Villa Cafaggio Chianti 2010 - donated by John Hook - black cherries and nutmeg were dominant in this Italian red. I had decanted it (along with the rioja and the final two reds) for 24 hours before the tasting which smoothed out the tannins making it a comforting wine perfect with Christmas Cake which I served with the final three.
Tesco finest Chateauneuf-de-Pape - donated by Sarah and Ian Maycock - Tesco finest classic southern Rhone red is full of fruit and spice. It definitely benefitted from being decanted and is most suited to being served with food; perfect with a roast beef dinner.  
Stobi Vranec - donated by Dave and Agnes Cronin - our final wine was a first for everyone as it was a wine from Macadonia. It was by far the deepest wine in colour, inky purple and had a great nose full of cherries with hints of coffee and liquorice. It was full of blackberries in flavour with smooth tannins after being decanted. A favourite with most.  
And so that was it - 100 wines tasted, enjoyed (or not) and remembered for many reasons. It has been great fun to do this challenge, hard work in finding wines for the budgeted price, challenging to write the tasting sheets without tasting the wines, and tricky to present wines when also tasting -  it's not easy to explain about red wines when you've already sampled 12 whites and roses !!

Nick and I were surprised with a presentation of a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a new wine man to add to our collection - quite unexpected and we were very touched by the gesture, thank you.
Next ...... yes there will be more. Everyone has enjoyed it so much the wine tastings will continue, not 100 and hopefully a little higher in budget. Our first tasting in 2015 will be the top 20 from this year - if I can still get them as some of the favourites were donations.
To everyone .....


  1. A wonderful achievement, well done to you, such a lot of organisation went into this.


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