October 13, 1992
The Tuesday Tipplers, or at least a select few, successfully orienteered their collective way through the alleyways of affluent west London housing estates to Warbler Woods for the October meeting at maison Finnie. Those present were - your congenial host (me), Abbott, Anderson, Flanagan, Heizer and Lobb. Regrets received from Batson (confused, tired and emotional), Lee (relentless pursuit of culture) and Mansfield (where is the Deerhurst Inn anyway?) Harasym still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner party? Ron had a headache.
While we awaited stragglers, a glass of Tasmania Wine Co. Chardonnay 91 ($16.10) was served to provide light refreshment. The first Tasmanian wine sampled in the long and distinguished history of the Tipplers proved surprisingly agreeable, with a clean pleasant flavour and not too much of the obtrusive oak. At this point, the evening began to descend into ribald jocularity as Ian produced minutes of the previous meeting. In flowing iambic pentameter, the Celtic bard (aided no doubt by the frequent inhalation of diverse recreational gases) had chronicled the previous months festivities within an epic rhyme of breeding and sensitivity to rival the great William McGonagall in his heyday. Once the Dionysian dithyramb had received appropriate adulation, the evening proceeded on a more restrained note. The original intention had been to have an "Evening on Provence" theme, inspired by the excesses described in Peter Mayle's best selling paperback. Unfortunately, no potable Provencal wines could be located by yours truly so an alternative them was quickly cooked up.
A blind tasting of paired New and Old World red wines was proposed, with the assembled members asked to identify each of the three grapes and speculate as to the region of origin. True to established form, the rest of the evening descended into anarchy, innuendo and little in the way of intelligent speculation, although there was some inspired guesswork, Frank kept mysteriously asking for an eraser and Peter made a lot of noise.
The first pair of wines were examples of Pinot Noir - a Jaffelin Santenay 89 ($24.35) and a Knudsen Erath Oregon Pinot Noir 89 ($14.10). The group clearly favoured the Oregon version, finding the burgundy rather lifeless, especially when the price differential was revealed. There was a distinct lack of consensus about the grape, other than a rather reluctant concession that it might be red.
We then proceeded to sample a pair of merlots - Chateau Les Templiers Lalande De Pomerol 85 ($19.30) and Bidwell Long Island Merlot 88 ($15.70). The Tipplers were unanimous in expressing their preference for the New York State version here and truly appalled to discover that some pervert was actually making wine (quite good, actually) in a locale hitherto associated only with the New York Islanders and nuclear disasters. The boys did quite well on this pair, except that most thought they were drinking cabernet sauvignon and nobody could tell Old form New.
The final pair proved to be the hit of the evening, although it is just possible that by now the unfortunate Tipplers had slipped into the "judgmentally challenged" category. The hermitage grape was ably represented by Les Meysonniers Crozes-Hermitage 89 ($16.10) and Rothbury Estate Hunter Valley Hermitage 84 ($19.17). Not much of a challenge here, though, as the Ausie proved to be as seductive as a blonde in a billabong. This is unfortunate as the bottle in question was the last of the genial host's personal collection of the genre. However on a brighter note the spectacularly constrained consumption of the happy few meant that large quantities of the stuff remained for judicious blending, recorking and subsequent quaffing by the genial host over the next 48 hours.
Nothing of substance having been established in the course of the evening other than that we all like red wine and don't seem to care much about its origin or pedigree, we concluded with generous servings of Apple Bavarian and Chocolate Angle Food Cake accompanied by coffee. The option of desert wine was wisely declined by the now vertically challenged Tipplers, in order that a final assault on the residual reds might more effectively be prosecuted.
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