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

Wine 101: How to Save Leftover Wine

See the Wine Spectator video, How to Save Leftover Wine

Have some leftover wine from your last dinner party? It would be a shame to let it go to waste—and you don’t have to! Learn the best ways to store leftover wine and the most important preservation factors to keep in mind in this quick tutorial.

OK, so for most of us in NZ, all we do is return the screw cap to the wine bottle. But if you want to reduce the rate of oxidation, then I would recommend you click on this link and watch the video from Wine Spectator. I especially liked the Pro tip at the very end of the item.

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Joelle Thomson – April tasting

Joelle hardly needs an introduction. She is well known through her significant contribution to wine literature in New Zealand. She has featured in many news and other publications as well as being a regular contributor on Radio NZ. Among her other activities, she is the Wine Programme Director and teaches wine courses at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington. She also does courses at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine in Auckland.

The theme for the evening will be “Top Drops under $25” Having such a well-established expert introducing good wines in the more affordable range will be welcomed by members. More next month, in the meantime, put in your diary.

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Have you heard

A man walks into a bar and ordered a glass of white wine. He took a sip of the wine, then tossed the remainder into the bartender’s face. Before the bartender could recover from the surprise, the man began weeping. “I’m really sorry. I keep doing that to bartenders. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to have a compulsion like this.”

Far from being angry, the bartender was sympathetic. Before long, he was suggesting that the man see a psychoanalyst about his problem. “I happen to have the name of a psychoanalyst,” the bartender said. “My brother and my wife have both been treated by him, and they say he’s as good as they come.” The man wrote down the name of the doctor, thanked the bartender, and left. The bartender smiled, knowing he’d done a good deed for a fellow human being.

Six months later, the man was back. “Did you do what I suggested?” the bartender asked, serving the glass of white wine. “I certainly did,” the man said. “I’ve been seeing the psychoanalyst twice a week.”

He took a sip of the wine. Then he threw the remainder into the bartender’s face. The flustered bartender wiped his face with a towel. “The doctor doesn’t seem to be doing you any good,” he spluttered. “On the contrary,” the man said,” he’s done me a world of good.”

“But you just threw the wine in my face again!” the bartender exclaimed. “Yes” the man said. “But it doesn’t embarrass me anymore!

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Why amateur wine scores are every bit as good as professionals’

By Mark Schatzker and Richard Bazinet | Updated May 25, 2018

Article summary

Few consumer products offer as staggering a range of choice as wine. You can buy a bottle of Dark Horse Big Red Blend for $8. Or for around $500, you can get a 2012 bottle of Sloan Proprietary Red. Yet for each bottle, the same question applies: Is it any good?

The rise of the wine-rating crowd

Cellar Tracker online
 Cellar Tracker online

In 2004, Eric LeVine — then a group program manager at Microsoft — launched CellarTracker, a site where amateur wine enthusiasts can rate wines. Today, CellarTracker is the web’s most popular “community” or “crowdsourced” wine review website, containing 6.3 million reviews from 113,000-plus users for more than 2.2 million different wines.

Amateur and professional wine scores correlate very tightly

How similar? We ran a statistical tool called a Spearman correlation and got a figure of 0.576. A perfect correlation is 1. An utter non-correlation is 0. A score of 0.576 may not sound impressive at first, but it can actually get worse than 0 — a negative correlation, which is what you would see if you compared, say, shortness with the likelihood of playing professional basketball.

Amateurs appear more expert than the experts

It looks very much like the enthusiasts actually do a better job of agreeing with the experts than the experts do with each other. That might sound odd, but out of thousands of wines we analyzed, only a handful contradicted this pattern. Simply put, if you want to know what the experts think, the best place to look appears to be, of all places, CellarTracker.

The better the wine, the more experts agree with the amateurs

How do wine enthusiasts compare with the experts like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson? Very well. Javier Zarracina
How do wine enthusiasts compare with the experts like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson? Very well. Javier Zarracina

There is also a tendency for scores to converge as wines improve in quality. This is evident in the arrow shape of the clusters in figures comparing CellarTracker with Wine Advocate and CellarTracker with International Wine Cellar. Average scores, furthermore, are high. On Wine Advocate, the average score was 89, on International Wine Cellar it was 91, and it was 17 out of 20 for Jancis Robinson. On CellarTracker, it was 89. This tells us that experts and enthusiasts alike don’t seem to be spending a great deal of time scoring mediocre wines.

Read the full article

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Have you heard – The Bottle of Wine Parable

Huang Chan was a very rich man who was deliberately tough on his farmhand, Wong. Huang Chan gave Wong a bottle and said, ‘Buy me a bottle of wine.’ Wong, the poor farmhand enquired, ‘How can I buy you wine with no money at all?’ Huang Chan replied disdainfully, ‘Anyone can buy wine with money. It takes real skill to buy wine without money.’

Time elapsed and Wong eventually returned with the empty bottle. He handed the bottle to Huang Chan and murmured, ‘Enjoy the wine, please.’

Staring at the empty bottle with some dismay, Huang asked, ‘There is no wine, how can I enjoy this?’ Wong replied to Huang Chan, with a straight face, ‘Anyone can enjoy wine if there is some but it takes real skill to enjoy wine when there is none.’

(Not sure that this would be a skill I would seek to develop. Ed)

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Science says wine and cheese make you fit and smart

If you needed another excuse to have some cheese with your wine tonight, we are hooking you up!

Because it turns out that cheese may not be so bad for you after all…

A recent study by the Global Dairy Platform, Dairy Research Institute and Dairy Australia has found that consuming cheese doesn’t increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“There’s quite as widespread but mistaken belief among the public that dairy products in general can be bad for you, but that’s a misconception,” Ian Givens, a nutrition professor at Reading University told The Guardian. “While it is a widely held belief, our research shows that that’s wrong.”

And red wine, in moderation, can help your heart and your brain, according to a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

The study showed that when wine residue passed through the gut it has the ability to prevent cells from dying, and therefore delay potential neurodegenerative diseases.

Good to know!

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In the News – Wine boss kickback trial begins

peter-scutts
Peter Scutts is shown here in a file photo from 2008. Photo / Tim Cuff

By Brendan Manning, Monday, 4 May 2015, The NZ Herald

(I thought it quite pertinent bearing in mind the recent revelations about FIFA. We can hold our own with scandals as well.)

Former New Zealand Wine Company chief executive Peter Scutts played a “double game”, receiving kickbacks from a wholesaler the company was supplying wine to, the Auckland High Court has heard. In a case brought by the Serious Fraud Office, Scutts is facing 16 Crimes Act charges of dishonestly using a document and one Secret Commission Act charge of receiving secret reward for procuring contracts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During her opening at today’s High Court trial, Crown prosecutor Rachael Reed said Scutts played a “double game” in early 2011, working for the New Zealand Wine Company (NZWC), which he later became chief executive of, while also receiving kickbacks from Australian-based wine wholesaler Liquor Marketing Group (LMG). Scutts received AUD$1 for each case of wine supplied, the kick-backs ultimately totalling AUD$53,000, Reed said. NZWC did not know of the reward paid and it was in direct conflict to his role with them.

In his contract with NZWC, Scutts was able to provide services to other companies, provided that they did not conflict with the business of NZWC. However, the contract stipulated he was to inform the company if any conflicts of interest did arise. NZWC first supplied wine to LMG in May 2011 and Scutts proceeded to invoice LMG for what he recorded on the invoices as “marketing services”. The invoices were in fact “thinly disguised brokerage payments” which were hidden from NZWC, Reed said.

Scutts told SFO investigators that LMG had asked for photographs of the head NZWC winemakers, but they had refused, so an agreement was come to where a photo of Scutts’ son Oliver was used instead for a fee of AUD$1 per case sold. The explanation defied logic and commercial reality as it was common practice in the industry for wine makers to provide marketing materials and wine tastings for free. It also contradicted the evidence, as Oliver Scutts’ image only appeared on marketing materials for six months, yet Peter Scutts invoiced for 15-months of “marketing services” from May 2011, Reed said.

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French winemakers furious at Internet administrators

NZ Herald | 24 June 2014

Winemakers say the decision to open up access to .wine and .vin domain names will make it easier for unethical wine sellers to deceive customers about the origin of their goods. Photo / Thinkstock

Just one month after Mother Nature defeated Jeff Bezos in a battle for the .amazon domain name, a new conflict is fermenting in these Internet suffixes. This time around, the hotly contested properties are .vin and .wine, and the broad-based attack is being led by a very rankled France.

Winemakers in Europe, Australia and California are protesting a decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to move forward with the introduction of .vin and .wine as so-called top-level domains – the familiar appendixes to Web addresses like .com and .edu.

The problem, as fine winemakers see it, is that opening up access to .wine and .vin will make it easier for unethical wine sellers to deceive customers about the origin and quality of their goods.

Geography is a big deal when it comes to winemaking and the European Union has strict rules that govern the use of “geographical indications” in marketing and labeling.

The best-known example of this is how in the EU and many other countries the word champagne can only be applied to bubbly beverages from the Champagne region of France. Made anywhere else in the world, it’s simply called sparkling wine.

The concern France shares over domain names with other winemakers around the world is that a company could register a Web address like champagne.wine but not sell the authentic product. “Internet users could indeed be deceived into believing that they are buying a genuine product with specific qualities and characteristics, when they are in fact getting an imitation,” Linda Reiff, president of the Napa Valley Vintners, wrote in a letter to ICANN that was cited by the Wall Street Journal.

France has gone so far in the debate over .wine and .vin as to demand an overhaul of how ICANN is structured and run. The French have said that proceeding with the domain names could “imperil” talks on a trans-Atlantic trade deal between the EU and the US.

– Slate

 

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