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Halliday - - Mail -

In Novem­ber 1973, the first meet­ing of the Joy Or­chard Wine Tast­ing Group was held. It com­prised six neigh­bour­hood cou­ples with young fam­i­lies, lim­ited in­comes and an in­ter­est in wine. Some ba­sic guide­lines were agreed. The aim was to have a reg­u­lar wine tast­ing evening – to taste and en­joy dif­fer­ent wines, com­ment on each, and gain an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of wines. Mem­ber­ship would be lim­ited to seven cou­ples. As the num­ber of tast­ings per bot­tle is lim­ited, at­ten­dance would be no more than 16; the host cou­ple hav­ing the right to in­vite two guests. Evening meet­ings would be held each month by ro­ta­tion in mem­bers’ homes. The host would se­lect a theme and ei­ther pro­vide the wines or ask each cou­ple to bring a bot­tle. Seven cou­ples, seven wines: an in­ex­pen­sive night out. An an­nual din­ner out also be­came part of the group’s pro­gram with the best wines from the year en­joyed.

La­bels have been kept in books with de­scrip­tions and rat­ings. Our first wines in­cluded Ben Ean Spe­cial Moselle, Kaiser Stuhl Rosé, Houghton White Bur­gundy, McWil­liam’s Mount Pleas­ant Rhine Ries­ling and a Rouge Homme Claret.

Many in­ter­est­ing and ob­scure wines have been tasted, in­clud­ing clas­sics such as the 1972 Hen­schke Hill of Grace (pur­chased at cel­lar door for $3), the 1973 Yalumba Re­serve Claret Wyn­d­ham’s Blend,

1972 Pen­folds St Henri Claret and 1970 Pen­folds Grange Her­mitage Bin 95 (both were sam­pled on the same evening), and more re­cently, the 2006 Cullen Diana Made­line. At an all-white evening, two Vic­to­rian favourites were tasted: the 2004 Ni­chol­son River Chardon­nay and 2004 Wan­tirna Es­tate Is­abella Chardon­nay (both were rated as ex­cel­lent). Last month, our 469th meet­ing was held. The for­mat is still the same, pho­tos of grand­chil­dren are cir­cu­lated, some mem­bers have moved on and others have taken their place. The rat­ing sheet has been up­dated, but re­mains lit­tle changed, and the dis­cus­sion on the wines is cer­tainly more knowl­edge­able. Most im­por­tantly, the in­ter­est in wines con­tin­ues and longterm friend­ships have been re­tained. Bob Gilder Mel­bourne, VIC

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