2017 Highlights Tastings

Hi Nowt, thanks for the feedback and tips.

The 3 sparklings we were showing last night were served blind. The members seemed to enjoy the experience and the results of the “preferred wine” were interesting. (I will write up a review at the conclusion of the four The Highlights events)

Your suggestion of mini master classes or break out sessions is something I recently ran past the buyers and plan on implementing later in the year.

Unfortunately adding food is a tricky one due to Health and Safety laws and various restrictions the venues place on us. But I’m striving to find ways we can introduce elements that turn our events from a wine tasting into an experience (sorry for the cliche) and food is an obvious way of doing that and I will continue to explore all options.

Keep the suggestions coming and hopefully will meet you at an event soon.


Hi Cerberus.

The comment I’ve heard the most since starting in November is “there should be more tastings in …”

Thus I’m certainly aware of the sense that there is a bias towards Stevenage and London at the expense of other regions.

Clearly these two locations dominate our calendar but one of my briefs is to ensure we provide all of our members the opportunity to participate in the tastings program of events. Thus I’ll be working hard to ensure we reach as many parts of the country as possible.

To that end I’ve spent significant time analysing venues used for the past 4 years and will be using this analysis to make decisions for locations for all events from July.

Whilst I can’t promise we will be able to reach everywhere straight away, I hope you will shortly see a more varied range of both event formats and locations.


Ah well 2 out of 3 ain’t bad as they say! As mentioned, the tastings have been very good so these are all cherries on err the wine cake! Mmmm wine cake…

1 Like

In the specific case of the Highlights series, the wines were late to appear as it was the first event I was responsible for putting the wines and their accompanying notes together and it took longer than I expected. So I take full blame for that and can only say sorry.

Generally, as Robert mentioned we tend to favour accuracy over haste and have to wait until we get the green light from other departments before we can acquire stock for our events. Obviously this varies from event to event but we usually have the wines confirmed 7-10 days prior to an event and on the website at least 7 days prior to an event.

However based on your feedback I’ll be asking members whether they would prefer us to post a list earlier, that may not be as accurate and is “subject to change”. So in the absence of an ideal world where we have the wines listed months in advance let me know what you’d like to see and I’ll see what I can do.


Some idea of the wines (producers, number of wines, particular highlights) from the beginning. Then, a reasonably complete list by (say) a week before the deadline for cancelling a booking, combined with an email to all members who have booked to tell them that the list is available. We all understand that minor changes may happen, but after one disappointing lunch I do want as much information as possible.


This seems to be the logical compromise and what I plan on introducing.

We have in fact already implemented changes with confirmation emails and updates now sent in the lead up to an event and further tweaks will be made in the coming weeks.

Thanks to significant help from my colleague Maria and the rest of the team I hope you will see the result of these changes in any events you may be attending in the next few months.


It’s not quite Truro but we are heading to Plymouth and Exeter in May as well as Cardiff in Feb. Hopefully we might be able to see you at one of those events.

1 Like

Can i also raise the idea of more weekend tastings? It’s more than a little awkward trying to get back from work, get ready and out into a train then get to a venue across the country on a week night! If the tasting is in my home city it’s still a bit tricky, let alone half way across the north! @Tim_S

@Nowt_in_my_glass , I think this is a great idea. Nobody rushing about too much and getting to the venue nice and relaxed ! However , I’m not sure how the TWS staff would feel about forfeiting their weekends on a semi regular basis to fulfil our preferred tasting nights ! We can but hope :blush:

1 Like

@Leah it’s probably the families who would be upset more than the team.

But in all seriousness between staffing issues and extra costs for venues, accommodation etc weekend events outside of HQ are indeed difficult.

However we are running bottomless brunches following sparkling wine workshops in London and Brighton in May. If they are successful we will take them on the road north in Q3.

However we are running bottomless brunches following sparkling wine workshops in London and Brighton in May. If they are successful we will take them on the road north in Q3.

Wow , that could get messy 'up north but interesting tactic for sales :wink: (just kidding)!
I think it’s commendable to be offering any weekend tastings given time taken from family. I say that as an “oil & gas” widow where family time for us is less than 5 months of the year . But that aside… babysitters are easier to get hold of on the weekends :rofl::wink:! Its all about balance and I’m sure TWS will be well supported by the members whenever they decide to run their tastings :+1:

1 Like

We have posted the provisional list of wines for the Rising Stars event today…


Hopefully there are a few there that will pique your interest and should be a nice range for your newbie friend.

If you think there is a glaring omission let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

1 Like

Looks ace thank you! Is there any fizz?

Not at this stage. However our buyer Freddy B is on the case and there may be a late addition.


@JReed any tips for Aberdeen?

Driving in this afternoon in preparation for Tuesday. First time so any must see/do/eat/stay places?

Aberdeen city centre is a very long street with granite buildings and a few shopping centres with union square probably the best one but full of the usual shops and restaurants.
For eating out there is a Sicilian restaurant caked Rustici. I recommend the seafood pasta. The wine list is ok.
There is a lovely Belgian beer bar called 6 degrees north and has a lot of different styles of beers on tap. There are 2 brew dogs too but I prefer six degrees.
There is a beach which you can walk to but would advise driving there where a brisk wind of the sea can clear your head.
The bar next to the Douglas hotel where the tasting is is called malones has a nice atmosphere too.
Enjoy your staff and I will say hello on Tuesday


Oops the Italian is called Rustico

Will there be a tasting route as per normal?

Funny you should mention that, I literally just asked if that is something we usually do when proof reading the tasting notes for this event.

The issue with suggesting a route is it can create backlogs and congestion if everyone tastes in the same order. However for some events a guide is really worthwhile and I think this is one of those. When you haven’t even seen a grape name before, let alone know how to pronounce it, it helps to have a guide so these will be provided.

Following up on Robert’s request in the initial post to give feedback on these tastings and the wines shown…

I attended the one at Glasgow Trades Hall last night - great venue and just over 100 at it.

Overall, I found the reds more satisfying than the whites. Much to my surprise my wife did too, as she usually drinks nothing but white wine. I think that the whites lacked a little balance as a group as there were no sweeter wines, and indeed the nearest to even off dry was the Mas de Daumas. An Alsace white or German Riesling would have been a nice counterpoint.

I’ve commented on some but not all wines, though if anyone has any questions on any I’m happy to give my views.

There was a blind tasting of 3 sparkling wines. The Tasmanian and Hambledon were very good I thought - I was surprised by the ‘body’ of the Hambledon. They were better than many NV champages, though this is reflected in the price. Cava was ok but lacking in body. A lot cheaper though.

Among the whites, I liked the Cour Cheverny for being a bit different. The Santorini was a very textured wine with quite a long finish. Not sure it’s a Chablis alternative though as the tasting note suggests.

The St Aubin white was good, but a bit young still maybe. Prefer the 2011 Lamy I have at home, but it’s a fair bit dearer too.

Mas de Daumas white was lovely, but I think there are comparable Rhone whites a fair bit cheaper. My wife didn’t like it.

The Italian rose was, I thought very good, especially for the price. This despite a weird bouquet which was like caramelised earth to me if that makes any sense. The taste bore no relation, and had plenty of flavour and enough acidity. It would be a great and versatile summer food wine.

The Exhibition Fleurie was lovely - if I had one very minor criticism it was that the palate didn’t quite match the nose for intensity. Made me wonder why I haven’t bought more Beaujolais for a while.

The Aussie Cab Merlot has a very good price to quality ratio. Not a fruit bomb. My wife didn’t like it but probably a bit too heavy for her taste.

To my surprise, I was a bit underwhelmed by the Guigal CdR. First taste of the 2014. Thought it was still a bit dry and tannic, and lacked the fruit that I am used too from them. I understand that there may have been a bit of bottle variability there. Maybe better after decanting, or even in another year or so?

The Chianti was superb, with balance between the fruit and savoury aspects. Good acidity too, and a great and versatile food wine.

Rioja Alta Ardanza 2008 tasted older than the 05 I have at home. Very old school Rioja - more so than the 05. If you like that style you will like this. I did, but probably prefer the 05 for fruit.

The Graticciaia was also good, but not really my bag - verging too much towards a fortified wine for me. That’s personal taste though.

Rutherglen Muscat was great. So much flavour. Ideal to finish with before going out into a cold Glasgow January evening! My wife loved it despite preconceptions to the contrary.

Thanks to WS team for hosting very efficiently. Main comment would be - do more events in Glasgow, and get the whites selection a little more balanced.