Join the club
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