Wine Bottle Trivia . . .

Bocksbeutel - design is said to be copied from a goat’s scrotum.
Bocksbeutel – design is said to be copied from a goat’s scrotum.

Bocksbeutel – An 18th-century flat flask from Franconia in Germany and Styria in  Austria, still popular in these regions although rarely seen in the export markets. Its design is said to be copied from a goat’s scrotum.

Bouteille – the French word for bottle, of which there are over 50 known shapes and sizes in France alone.

Fassle – a German wine vessel, sometimes made of leather, from which the contents are squirted into the mouth. Now used only at festivals and other celebrations.

Flagon – a wine flagon is usually made of green glass, unlike the better-known brown ones for beer or cider. It is a large, flattish bottle often used in New World countries to hold inexpensive wine.

Fiasco – Italian bottle contained in a straw basket
Fiasco – Italian bottle contained in a straw basket

Fiasco – many wine guides simply describe fiasco as an Italian bottle or flask,
sometimes contained in a straw basket. Here’s how it came by the name . . . When the Etruscans began to develop glass production in the 4th century BC, they discovered that it was possible to blow a bottle in the shape of a round bubble. However, when the buddle cooled and they tried to stand it upright, it fell over – it was a fiasco, a failure. To correct the problem, the asked their women to weave flat straw bases into which the bottle was inserted. The fiasco can still be seen in Chianti and Orvieto.

Fillette – a slim half-bottle which is still widely found in the Loire Valley.

Flute d’Alsace – a tall, slender bottle used for Alsace wine.

Porron – a Spanish flask
Porron – a Spanish flask

Jug – a large bottle with a handle. It measures one US gallon and usually contains pasteurised wine of a basic quality, a favourite purchase of President Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas.

Porron – a Spanish flask with an extended neck or spout, often made of kid leather or wood. It is popular in the Basque region and regularly seen on sporting occasions when it facilitates the swift consumption of wine.

Pot – also known as le pot de Beaujolais, this is a half-litre, gently curved bottle still found in restaurants. Piat, the prominent Beaujolais negociants, have their own 75cl (centilitre) version.

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Alan Evans tasting in review – August 2020

It’s excellent now we’re in COVID19 Level One! Well done everyone!

“One of the most prestigious tastings in the 40 years of the club’s existence”. That’s what the Independent Herald wrote in their 17th September issue when reviewing last month’s tasting. And what a night it was. For those of you fortunate enough to attend our second (and last?) meeting under COVID Level 2, I am sure you will agree it was impressive.

Celebrating 40 years of tastings 2001 Penfolds 389 1991 Te Mata Estate Coleraine

Presented by Life Member and former President, Alan Evans, this carefully curated (by Alan and Wayne) selection was sourced from Alan’s temperature-controlled cellar and the Club’s cellar. This is what they came up with:

  • 2016 Ogier Cotes du Rhone Blanc
  • 2016 Askerne Semillon
  • 2017 Dom. Vincent Careme Vouvray Le Clos
  • 2011 Penfolds 389
  • 2001 Penfolds 389
  • 1991 Coleraine
  • 2017 Troplong Mondot St Emilion Grand Cru

It is difficult to pick favourites as all the wines were superb. However, there was some consensus at our table, so I will highlight a couple. Of the whites, the Ogier Cotes du Rhone Blanc was our pick. This bargain-priced (under $20) blend contains five grapes: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bouroulene, Roussane and Viognier. Produced without any oak at all, it showcases the region’s fruit above all else. Alan has become an expert in that region since, as he explained, at the Magnum Society the popular areas of France, i.e. Bordeaux and Burgundy, had already been taken. No one wanted Cotes du Rhone, so he took it!

Of the reds, it was the two Penfolds 389’s, their classic and much sought after Cabernet Shiraz wine, that was favoured at our table. Opinion differed as to which was the best but to me, it was 2001. Deep colour and very concentrated, it showed the benefits of keeping this wine for almost two decades. Alan explained that Bin 389 is often referred to as ‘Poor Man’s Grange’ or ‘Baby Grange’ because the wine is said to be matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange. Interestingly 2001 was under cork while 2011 had a screw cap. Alan gave us the latest thinking on screw caps where there have been some disappointing results for cellared wines: the sulfur dioxide levels can be too high and produce rotten egg aromas. Some producers are returning to cork now that they can get guaranteed taint-free products like the Diam. The majority of Penfolds’ top-end red wines are now 100 per cent cork-sealed. They are also looking into the use of glass closures. Alan’s tip on removing that sulphur rotten egg smell: dip a copper penny into the wine and it will convert it to odourless copper sulphide!

This meeting was a highlight of our 40th Anniversary year and was a good opportunity to taste older cellared wines. A huge thanks go to Alan who indicated he is happy to do a similar tasting at some stage in the future.

Author – Terry Friel 

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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
The Cellar Club Inc

European wines presented by Simon Bell, Colab Wine Merchants Limited

Members may recognise Simon’s name. He presented to the club back in April 2018 but has recently moved to a new company in wine and spirit wholesaling, Colab Wine Merchants Limited.

This company is interesting in that its 2 principal shareholders are 2 well-known wineries:

But of equal importance to us, Colab also handles 3 South Australian brands:

As you can see, all 3 of these areas are in the state of South Australia which is one of the iconic new world wine regions and so we are really looking forward to tasting some great wines from this area.

More details next month.

News just in

CoLab is now presenting a range of European wines from their portfolio. The wines to be presented include:

  • Alpha Domus Collection Sauvignon Blanc, NZ
  • Vivanco White Rioja, Spain
  • Guerrieri Rizzardi Pinot Grigio IGP Veneto, Italy
  • Domaine Dupre Bourgogne Chardonnay, France
  • Vivanco Rioja Crianza, Spain
  • Vivanco Rioja Reserva, Spain
  • Chateau Mauciol Cotes du Rhone Villages Red, France

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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.

Robin Semmens, Editor

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Maison Vauron – Alexandre Patenotte – Sept 2018

Another great meeting. This meeting of French wines with some cheese matches recorded the second highest attendance with 42 members and 2 guests attending. The meeting was characterised by both great wines with great cheese.

Alex’s presentation style suited the meeting format. During the pouring of the wines, Alex chatted to various tables in turn, allowing time to taste and chat about the wines. 62 bottles were ordered from Maison Vauron with mostly 2 or 3 bottle orders. Great feedback was received from club members.

The committee thanked Anne for organising this meeting and preparing the cheeses for the meeting.

PS You may be able to purchase some of the cheeses offered at this tasting (amongst many other exotic things) from Ontrays, 38 Fitzherbert Street, Petone.

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RSVP, Local beer over NZ wine, Next trip


We would be grateful if you could give Anne an indication as to whether or not you are likely to be attending the tasting. This will ensure that we can share out the very nice cheeses as evenly as possible. You wouldn’t want to miss out now, would you? Anne’s email address is

Local beer over NZ wine

As I prepare this newsletter our President is also trying for some balmy weather, though in Bali rather than France. What he will not be doing though is matching the warmth with some good New Zealand wine. He reports that at a restaurant a bottle of Matua Sauvignon Blanc (generally available for about $13 a bottle on our supermarket shelves) was on offer for the NZ equivalent of $80.00 phew. He and Dinah have been reduced to drinking the local beer.

Next trip

We will be visiting the wines of France, Australia and Portugal over the latter part of the year. Much to be enjoyed.

Robin Semmens

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A tour of Europe through wines – Macvine International – April 2018

A ghastly night weather wise and a long list of apologies through autumn ailments meant that the turnout for this tasting was a little lower than we had hoped for. Despite that, those who braved the conditions enjoyed an excellent presentation and some great wines. Simon Bell and Craig O’Donnell from Macvine International presented for this tour around Europe. The tasting was a little different from the usual but was done with great style and enthusiasm. The wines presented were not necessarily well-known wines from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. Simon and Craig enjoyed the evening and expressed a keenness to return in the future.

The tour included the following wines:

Andre Delorme Methode BDB (France)
Pazo Cilleiro Albarino (Spain)
Bernard Defaix 2015 Cote de Lechet Chablis (France)
Cantina Terlan Lagrein (Italy)
Dourthe No 1 Rouge (France)
Alpha Zeta “V” Valpolicella Ripaso Superiore (Italy)
1994 Burgermeister Lauer Drohner Hofberger Riesling (Germany)

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USA biggest wine market as French drinkers cut down

Monica Edwards shops for wine at Central Market in Shoreline, May 29, 2012. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante/Files


The United States became the world’s biggest market for wine last year, beating France into second place for the first time as consumption slides in the country long seen as its natural home and Americans develop a greater taste for it.

U.S. consumers ‎bought 29.1 million hectoliters of wine in 2013, a rise of 0.5 percent on 2012, while French consumption fell nearly 7 percent to 28.1 million hectolitres, the International Vine and Wine organization OIV said on Tuesday.

U.S. drinkers are, however, still way behind in terms of consumption per head.

According to per capita figures that date from 2011, the average French person still gets through almost 1.2 bottles a week, about six times more than the average American. Nevertheless, the downward trend in consumption through recent years is fairly dramatic in Europe’s wine-drinking heartlands.

“In countries such as France, Italy and Spain, people used to drink a lot of wine, but consumption habits are changing,” OIV director general Jean-Marie Aurand ‎said on the sidelines of a news conference in Paris.

“We drink less wine by volume, more quality wine. And there is also competition from other drinks such as beer.”

“In the U.S., it is different, and they are starting from a lower level per capita, so they have a tendency to consume more and more, notably quality wine,” he said.

A wine bottle is seen on display in a cellar at the winery of Vassilis Panagiotou in the city of Markopoulo, east of Athens October 12, 2013.  REUTERS/John Kolesidis
A wine bottle is seen on display in a cellar at the winery of Vassilis Panagiotou in the city of Markopoulo, east of Athens October 12, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

France, the world’s third largest wine producer behind Italy and Spain, saw its consumption per capita fall more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2011 to 46.4 liters per year, he said.

Over the same period, U.S. consumers raised their consumption by nearly 17 percent to 9.1 liters per person per year.

The OIV said the sharp fall on the French wine market last year was exaggerated by an adjustment in its statistical data.


The Paris-based organization estimated last year’s wine consumption in China down 3.8 percent to 16.8 million hectolitres after a rapid growth over the past 10 years, but Aurand played down the fall, saying this was likely due to large stocks built up in the previous years.

Without official Chinese data, OIV calculates consumption by adding estimated output and imports minus small exports.

Overall, world wine consumption last year fell by 1 percent to 239 million hectoliters after four years of near stability.

“The long-awaited recovery that will mark the end of the financial crisis, which began in 2008, is still to take place,” Aurand said.

World wine production last year rose 9.4 percent to‎ 279 million hectoliters ‎helped by record output in Spain, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand, the OIV said.

International trade in wine fell 2.2 percent by volume to 98 million hectoliters, but higher average prices in 2013 led to a 1.5 percent rise in sales to 25.7 billion euros ($35.4 billion).

French exports shed 3 percent by volume, mainly due to low 2012 output, keeping the country behind Italy and Spain in the ranking of world wine exporters, but it remained the world’s top wine exporter in value at 7.8 billion euros ahead of its two main competitors.

“Things should move a different way in 2014 when you look at 2013 output, especially for Spain, which has a record harvest,” Aurand said.

For 2014, the OIV warned of a likely sharp fall in output in the southern hemisphere due to adverse weather conditions.

Initial estimates pointed to a fall of 20 percent in output in Argentina compared to 2013 and a drop of 10 to 20 percent in Chile after last year’s hefty production. Australian production could also fall slightly, the OIV said.

Overall output in the main countries of the southern hemisphere, also including South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand and Uruguay, could fall to between 49 to 53 million hectoliters this year, down 10 percent on 2013, the OIV said.

(Editing by Andrew Callus and David Evans)

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