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

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

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.

Related news

Committee request, Yalumba tasting, Saigon Van Grill Bar

Committee request

A couple of messages for members:

  1. It would be a great help to meeting organisers if members responded when asked if they will be attending tastings. For events like the Maison Vauron tasting and the upcoming November meeting, where some catering is required, it is a great help for the organisers if they have a reasonably accurate idea of numbers attending. Your assistance in this regard would be appreciated.
  2. We would like to be able to create a roster around looking after the club’s glasses. We are working on reducing the number to a smaller tray than the current two but would like some offers of assistance from people who would be prepared to take the glasses home, clean them as required and bring them back to the next meeting. This would not be onerous if we had a number of members willing to help. Let us know if you can assist.

Yalumba tasting

In researching information for the Negociants/Yalumba tasting this month it is apparent that space in this newsletter does not allow for the inclusion of all the information we might like to pass on. Wayne has been “surfing” and found some interesting stuff on the Government of South Australia site. I include two links here which you might be interested in looking at. The first is about Yalumba Wines while the second is a Wine Quiz. Have a look.

Saigon Van Grill Bar

We have been talking to Saigon Van Grill Bar after many members were disappointed over the July dinner. They had offered a voucher, presumably for use at their establishment, but the committee thought that this might be difficult to use appropriately. We have been negotiating for something more feasible but are having little joy at present. We will keep you informed. In the meantime, some of our members will remember that the site now occupied by Saigon Van (201 Cuba Street) was occupied by Orsini’s, a top Wellington restaurant. We have uncovered some snippets of Orsini’s history which are included in “In the News”. Makes interesting reading.

Cheers
Robin Semmens
Editor

Related news

Maison Vauron – Sept 2018

Maison Vauron is a family story born 19,000km from Auckland, in the charming city of Saint Etienne, 50 km southwest of Lyon, in the Northern Rhone. Everything started in 1879 when Antoine Vauron began his business as a wine merchant. As Obélix, the famous French cartoon character, his great-grandson Jean-Christophe Poizat, fell into it when he was young and perpetuated the family tradition.

In 1991, Jean-Christophe took the opportunity to travel to New-Zealand to learn more about NZ wines. Six months after arriving he would meet his future wife and some years later, his business partners, Peter & Scott. The influence of family has always been strong, with siblings of both JC and Peter involved in various parts of the operation and are still involved today, likewise the partners of both JC and Scott work in the business.

Mention of JC may stir up religious thoughts in some. The theme this time though is fine wine and cheeses, so heavenly still comes to mind. A tasting not to be missed, more in the next newsletter.

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Through Rose Coloured glasses – February 2017

Maison Vauron owners, Scott Gray & Jean-Christophe Poizat
Maison Vauron owners, Scott Gray & Jean-Christophe Poizat

The committee felt that the tasting went well and it was a lovely, pleasant evening. A record number for a February tasting attended. Will Brunel-Morvan, Maison Vauron, was an entertaining presenter. He enjoyed the evening and is keen to present again with a more substantive range of French wines including cheese matches. The committee will look at this option for a future meeting.

As an aside, on arrival to prepare for the meeting it was found that the Community Centre had changed the locks to the hall without advising us. This led to some confusion but was sorted out quickly enough not to have impacted on the evening. The Centre have apologised for the oversight.

The tasting included an Introductory Quaffer: Fazi Corsica rosé 2015, followed by an Embruns Sable de Camargue rosé 2015; Miradou Cotes de Provence rosé 2015; Château de Fesles Anjou rosé 2015 and Prieuré de Montezargues Tavel 2015.

We compared these French Rosés with a couple of New Zealand offerings. The Hunters (pinot based) and Hawkes Bay Estate (merlot). Great variety in colour and style.

N.B. Anne reported that there were 2 wine glasses left behind which she now has. Can members please check that they have all their glasses.

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