2019 President’s Annual Report

8 May 2019

It is indeed my privilege to present to club members the Cellar Club’s annual report for the year 2018 – 2019.

I want to stress that the club is first and foremost about you.  It is you as active members who make the club as vibrant as it is.  Maintaining membership at a sound level is the key.   Thank you for your support for events and meetings during the year and attending tonight’s AGM.   Our monthly meetings continue to be well attended, in fact the average number of members attending monthly meetings relative to the club’s subscription membership has perhaps never been better.  Total numbers attending tastings again exceeded 300 during this last year (at 9 meetings) but we have noted that guest numbers were a little down and this may need to be addressed if we are looking to build on our membership.

In particular the numbers attending the two club dinners in July and December 2018 were also at a high (the 2 dinners were collectively over 90) and as these dinners are highlight events for members we will continue to prioritise efforts to choose the right venue, creating a chance for you to share good wines with your table and to enjoy some of the first class cuisine that Wellington restaurants do provide.

May I add that this report, rather than being printed, is posted for your interest on the club’s website.

Keeping the membership levels up and ensuring meetings are well attended is a prime objective to ensure the club remains viable and we can sustain the costs that running the club incurs.   You will see from the financial report prepared for the AGM that the club’s finances are in very good shape thanks particularly to the diligence and astute budget management of our long serving treasurer.

These club’s finances and fixed costs are manageable but do require active attention.  Venue hire, licenses for the club website and the council’s liquor requirements, presenter gifts and the costs of the wines are the key points of focus.   With healthy finances we are able to subsidise the annual BBQ and dinners, sustain a club cellar and provide those cellared wines at dinners and the AGM tonight.  We are fortunate that occasionally the wine presenters either heavily discount the wine or are prepared to donate their wines.  This can be unpredictable but where it eventuates we are grateful and it allows the benefits to flow back to members.

This is often a function of the size scale of the wineries or their subsequent response to your level of orders.  It is worth noting that the presenters cover their own travel, visiting and accommodation costs and for some this is substantial.  In those terms I want to thank members most sincerely for their preparedness to order on the night and many of the presenters particularly comment on both their orders and naturally express a willingness to return to the club.  I know that is not always true of some other wine clubs where they have different arrangements and expectations.  Our club’s operating model is not unique, but where other styles of club operations put some pressure on presenters and wineries, our model ensures good relations are maintained with wineries, our financial viability is ensured and door charges and subscriptions remain affordable.

Therefore, the level of support from members suggests the formula may be right but I want to stress that meeting your interests is paramount.  We would want to hear both suggestions for meetings and ideas and options for events that are planned.   Each member of the committee is only too willing to talk with you to seek and explore ideas to ensure the club remains in good heart and is delivering what members want in terms of wine education, quality wine experiences and a good social atmosphere at meetings and amongst members.

As members you have excelled with the help you provide with meeting logistics.  Looking after the glassware, setting the venue hall up and helping stack tables and chairs away, assisting with pouring when requested, being inclusive at tables and helping with distribution of wine orders does ease the pressures involved in meetings and covering the necessary tasks and it is appreciated.

It is pleasing to reflect that the club continues to thrive as Wellington’s pre-eminent wine society established and operating since 1980 expanding from a local suburban focus to a membership residing from across the city, the Hutt Valley to the Kapiti Coast.  Your continuing involvement has ensured this longevity into our 40th year.

The programme over the last year was varied and well received.  We visited Hawkes Bay [Unison Vineyard, Clearview Estate and Askerne Wines], tasted internationally from France [Maison Vauron with cheeses], Portugal [Confidant Wines] and Australia [Yalumba with Negociants], tasted Marlborough [with Villa Maria], looked at quality wines under $25 with Joelle Thomson and dined at Saigon Van, at Juniper and the traditional January BBQ (courtesy of life member Derek Thompson).

My thanks go also to an outstandingly willing committee.  This is a group that is dedicated, reliable and affable.   The portfolios are well shared and the committee’s focus is sustained membership, managing costs, providing publicity and information, and promoting wine education.   It is pleasing for me to note that the current committee members have all expressed a willingness to continue in their involvement.

This is a group notable for their collective efforts and backing each other up.  The committee deals with a plethora of issues, with finances and organising the annual tasting programme being a focus.   There certainly is an extensive timely email flow amongst the committee and we always have a quorum at monthly committee meetings.   Planning and being flexible are the keys, although occasionally there is pressure on the scheduled monthly programme.  Invariably we manage to come through and frequently achieve stellar presentations.   Our secretarial support, the newsletter and our website as our “shop windows”, licensing and venue realities, catering and balancing our books all require dedication and effort.  For this collective endeavour I am grateful to committee members.

The club is about sociability, extending wine experiences and broadening horizons.   We are always looking for the means to increase our membership.  It is always a pleasure when you bring along guests to meetings and functions as prospective members and we are happy to make incentives for you to do so.  With guest numbers a little down of late there is a real interest to encourage your friends and acquaintances who may wish experience a tasting evening and perhaps to join the club.  Specifically, how we can increase younger membership is one of the challenges going forward.

Thank you for your support and active involvement and hence I raise a glass to you one and all and trust we will continue to do so for the year ahead and to mark the club’s 40th year.

Murray Jaspers
President
The Cellar Club Inc

2018 Portuguese Wine & Food Tasting Recipes

Thanks to those requesting recipes from last November’s Portuguese wine & food tasting.

Pão frito (fried bread)

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 grams (14 ounces) bread cut into slices
  • 100 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Coriander (to taste)

DIRECTIONS Put the olive oil and unpeeled crushed garlic in a frying pan and saute over low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bread, season with pepper and chopped coriander and fry it on both sides over medium heat until golden brown. Turn off the heat and serve this delicious appetizer before the main course.

Figos, presunto e queijo de cabra (figs, ham and goat cheese)

Hands-on time 10min. Cooking time about 10 min. Makes 20. INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • Vegetable oil, to grease
  • 5 figs, cut into quarters
  • 10 slices Parma Ham, sliced in half lengthways
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) hard Goat’s Cheese

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Mix together the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small bowl. Grease a baking sheet and place the figs skin side down onto it, then drizzle over the balsamic mixture carefully covering each fig. Roast for 10min. Allow to cool slightly. Cut cheese into small pieces and top each fig with a piece of cheese. Wrap each fig in a length of Parma ham. Serve at room temperature.

HINTS:

We can use Melon if figs are not in season. Can also substitute blue cheese or parmesan if you can’t get a HARD goat’s cheese Part of the joy of this dish is the balsamic vinegar pairing with the parma ham.

Camarão alho (garlic shrimps)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Ibs shrimp, raw and peeled, no tails
  • 1/2 cup margarine (or butter)
  • 6 garlic cloves, fresh and crushed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (can use white cooking wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon (need about 1 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees For two pounds of raw, peeled shrimp, saute one stick margarine (I use butter) with six cloves of crushed garlic, slowly on low heat, do not burn the garlic! Then add 1/2 Cup dry white wine (can use cooking wine), 1/2 Crushed Red Pepper, 1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice Place raw, peeled shrimp in a 21/2 quart casserole dish and pour the sauce over the shrimp, cover and bake 20 minutes You’re done! Serve over yellow or white rice or alone with plenty of bread

HINTS

2lb is almost a kilo of shrimps, although I would use peeled and tailed prawns – but frozen from the supermarket. 350 degrees is a fraction under 180 C Bring in a dish that we can warm in the oven and then spoon out into the serving dishes and send out with toothpicks

Bolas de frango com molho de piri piri (chicken balls with a piri piri sauce)

Suggest you go to the supermarket and buy pre-made chicken balls and a bottle of Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce. Then simply fry the chicken balls in a ½ inch of oil heated medium-high
Turn occasionally to ensure browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken balls to bowl. Add sauce and toss until covered then serve with toothpicks.

Carne vinho d’alhos (beef in a wine and garlic marinade)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to4 clove fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Portuguese paprika [I used smoked]
  • 1 tsp coarse salt or to taste
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp Portuguese olive oil
  • 1 c red (or white wine or equal amounts of both.
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced crushed red pepper.

METHOD

Using your chef knife (or any knife smash the garlic cloves and finely chopped. ADD all dry ingredients one at a time. BLENDING well, drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil .  Then RUB the meat with the spices mixture and place in a nonreactive dish. POUR the wine over the meat to partially or entirely cover it, depending on the recipe. MARINATE the meat, turning occasionally, for several hours. It’s best to marinade overnight in the refrigerator or even 24 hrs for better results

HINTS:

For the meat, I used Rump Steak which marinated well. Sirloin would also have been OK. Be sure to pat dry before grilling or frying else you risk poaching the steak because of the excess marinade liquid. I used the BBQ which gave an extra smokiness. Watch your cooking time as it will vary depending upon the thickness of the steak. I had the plate super hot and did just under 2 mins a side. For one of the thinner pieces, it was about 90 secs a side. If not sure, I suggest trying a small sample first. The aim is for a hint of pink in the middle but obviously one can adjust to personal tastes if doing this as a meal. Be sure to rest the steak. Slice thinly if serving as hors d-oeuvres. The dish name literally means meat in wine and garlic. More often, the recipe uses pork and white wine, but our choice is just as valid.

Confidant Wines present the wines of Portugal – Victor Kattenbelt

A great evening of Portuguese wines with food matches. The wines included:

  • Casa Santos Lima WOP (Wines of Portugal) Sparkling
  • Valcatrina Rose 2016
  • Pluma Vinho Verde
  • Casa Lima Alvarinho (Albarino)
  • Confidencial 2015 (a Portugese multi blend red)
  • Galadoro Red 2016
  • Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva 2015
  • Ximenez Iberian Sherry

The food matches included:

  • Pão Frite (Fried Bread)
  • Figos, presunto e queijo de cabra (figs, ham and goat cheese)
  • Camarão alho (garlic shrimps)
  • Bolas de frango com molho de piri piri (Chicken balls with Piri Piri sauce)
  • Carne vinho d’alhos (Beef in a wine and garlic marinade)
  • and by no means least Bolo de Nata (Christmas Cake).

Related news

Another great year

As I sit to prepare this newsletter Celine Dion is singing “Another year has gone by” in the background. Surely not, I say, but it is so. Where has it gone?
We can start by reviewing our year. We began with our summer BBQ at the end of January. The usual excellent occasion and thanks to Derek for continuing to make his premises available. February saw us heading on a “Summer Romance – a love affair with Wine” where some of your committee members presented their favourite summer wines. In March Mark and Susan Haythornthwaite presented some of their “Haythornthwaite” wines and told us of the success they have had adding platters to the tasting experience at their premises.

Unison Wines

In April Simon Bell from MacVine took us on a tour of Europe embracing France, Italy and Germany. May was the usual AGM then in June Unison Vineyards from the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay presented some lovely wines. July was something of a disappointment when we went to Saigon Van Grill Bar. The meal was lacking, particularly in quantity, and subsequent efforts to redress the problem have been futile. Never mind, we were back on track in August with a great tasting from Clearview.

September saw a continuation with European wines when Maison Vauron gave us a taste of French wine with some cheese matches. Then who could forget Negociants presentation from that iconic Barossa winery, Yalumba.

The tastings for the year finished with a return to Europe, this time Portugal with Confidant Wines, and some great wine with food matches. All this travel and we haven’t had to leave home.

As I finish this Celine has moved on to “Holy Night” and is singing about a night divine. I can’t quite work out if she means Christmas Eve or the December Dinner at Juniper. You be the judge.

Cheers
Robin Semmens, Editor

Related news

A visit to Portugal with Confidant

Continuing our theme of visiting the wines of established European countries, in November we will head to Portugal with Victor from Confidant Wines. Detail is still being worked on and will include some food matches to continue the celebratory theme of November tastings.

More detail next month. Suffice it to say it will be another great tasting from an established wine country.