COSTA BLANCA WINE SOCIETY
Minutes of the AGM held on January 17, 2019 at Hotel Sol y Mar, Calpe.
President Maureen Holliday called the meeting to order at 18.30 with 43 members present.
- Apologies for Absence were received from:
Judith & David Goodall
Rosemary & Alan Murdoch
Caryl & Gordon Sellars
Andrew & Kathy Johnson
Bill Ingram & Phylis
Joan & Fergus Fitzpatrick
Pauline & David Welpton
Paul & Helen Nicholls
Debbie & Keri Theophilus
Debby & Bruce Cowen
Val Dixey & Peter Ketteringham
Vicky Dryden Wyatt & Neil Robertson
Linda & Kevin Smith
Margaret & Malcolm March
- Approval of 2019 Minutes
The minutes from the previous AGM were approved unaltered. Proposed by Rod Anderton & seconded by Joan Easter
- Matters Arising
- Presidents Report
Maureen Holliday presented the President’s report for the year.
Introduction and Organisation
I’d like to thank you for electing me as your President in January last year.
I have been very lucky with the support I have received from you all and especially the Committee. Talking of the Committee it’s been a challenging year and I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every committee member for their support. To give you an idea of the challenge, there are nine members of the committee but this year we have had seven changes!
We started 2019 with Tim Fawle (who had just replaced Debbie Theophilus) retiring as Secretary to be replaced by Paul Smithard. Shirley Sloggie was replaced as Treasurer by Mike Granville. Colin and Sue, responsible for Menus and Venues, were replaced by Sue Blewett who is supported in the role by Netty when needed.
The Membership Secretary, Tony Cabban handed over to Ron Watson. When Gaby died, in the summer, John Sloggie took over maintenance and updating of the Website. As Vice President I took over from Paul Nicholls as President and Tim Fawle was elected as Vice President.
So, our only remaining Committee members were Sandy Fawle, responsible for Tables and seating on the tasting evenings and Penny Floodgate, who covers bookings and scores.
I have named the committee members who retired along with the new committee members as I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work in making our monthly meetings and our trips run so smoothly and be so enjoyable. Please put your hands together to thank these members.
While mentioning our committee, it was with great sadness that we lost Gaby in July. He was a long established member of the society at all levels during his time with us. As you will note he had responsibility for the Website, so his loss, as well as being personal, was also logistical. Fortunately John Sloggie has taken on that role and will continue this year.
Our membership is now 120 plus and we have a great committee in place so I’ll be handing over the reins to a society in good shape!
Our financial position is sound and I’m sure Mike and the committee will ensure it continues.
That’s a resume of the workings of the society which I hope you can see has been able to maintain a good position throughout the last year.
But the Costa Blanca Wine Society is you, the members! The atmosphere of this group is friendly and happy which is what we’re all about. When this membership are all onside, it combines very well with the events we hold so we can socialise, while eating good food and tasting a variety of fine wines, whether it’s our monthly tastings or our trips.
All our tastings and trips are reported on the website, but to give you a variety we experienced last year I’ll give you a short summary.
During 2019 we’ve had some excellent events, starting in January at the Abiss in Calpe after the AGM with my first presentation I hosted as President. The wines were from Bodega Seleccion in El Campello. This was an interesting assortment of wines I had tasted at various events in the past.
In February we met at the Restaurante Amanecer in Javea where we had last been in 2011. This was our first Bodega visit of the year, appropriately we chose one from our local DO, Alicante and enjoyed some fine wines from Bodega Francisco Gomez. We were offered the opportunity to buy on the night and our members spent 1000€+, so that tells you something about the wines!
In March we had a great presentation by Kathy and Andrew Johnson at Restaurante El Cumbre. The tasting was entitled A case of mistaken identity and they introduced us to the subject of Ampelography. This is where experienced botanists can identify grape varieties by sight. We heard some interesting and amusing stories about the wines we tasted.
In April as was usual, we visited Ca La Iaia in Moraira and the wines were from Bodega Los Frailes in the Valencia DO. Due to previous commitments the Bodega did not send a representative so the wines were presented by Tim Fawle and Keith Pacey, who both did a great job.
The May tasting was based at the Restaurante Punta Negra at Hotel Les Rotes, Denia. Our guest speaker was Ed Adams who is a ‘Master of Wine’ and has a wine business based in the UK so the presentation had a different emphasis from the usual ones where the presenter is typically a Spanish owner of a bodega here.
The June tasting which rounds off the first half of our year’s tastings, was, as usual, held at Puerto Blanco in Calpe. We broke with tradition at this event, as we served Cava and the presentation was by lady members of the society.
In September we resumed our tastings once again, this time at the Restaurante La Senia. It was a beautiful evening and we sat in the garden for this and our Wine Trip Team offered us some of their favourite wines. It was a really enjoyable evening where we were able to catch up on each other’s news in great surroundings.
In October we were at the Hotel Les Rotes once more where Tim Fawle introduced Rafa Poveda from the MG Wine Group. This was a very informative and enjoyable Bodega visit.
In November we had a lively presentation by Thamar from Casa del Vino at a new restaurant to us, The Restaurante Canali in Javea. She made it fun, using her feminine wiles and great knowledge to great effect!
In December we finished the year with our Christmas tasting at A Bordo, formerly Nau Nau, at Club Nautico, Javea. This was an informal evening where we had a light hearted and fun time tasting a variety of wines we had enjoyed throughout the year.
At the December tasting we selected the Wine Taster of the Year, based on the scoring of wines each month. The prize went to Gillian Ashworth, with Keith Pacey and Helen Nicholls as runners up.
I decided that 3 people were to receive a prize in appreciation of their presentations in June. However, as none of them were there their prizes still await them. They are the Cava Queens, Carole, Penny and Sue!
May and October are the months we have our annual trips. The May trip was for 4 days based in DO Somontano, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The October trip for one night was local and centred on Utiel Requena in the Valencia DO. Both these trips were very successful and enjoyed by everyone.
Conclusion and Thanks
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support during 2019, it has been my privilege to be your President and I wish everyone in the society a happy and healthy 2020.
- Membership Secretary’s Report – Ron Watson
Good Evening Everybody
As you will appreciate, the committee are keen to have a stable number of participants at our wine tasting events, in order to have the correct information in discussions with our chosen restaurants.
Additionally, we know from experience how many members are needed at each venue to ensure that comfort, atmosphere and favourable conditions for the speaker are taken care of.
Unfortunately, attendances the last two years have been lower than previous years. Even June and September tastings, which have traditionally been our most popular, suffered.
With this in mind we agreed at last years’ AGM to move the membership ceiling from 120 to 130.
During 2019 we added eight new members to our membership lists, but unfortunately these were outnumbered by those leaving.
I will hasten to add that the reason for the members leaving the Society was solely health or age related.
The number of members as of 31st December was 121.
I have some facts and figures which clearly illustrate our situation.
In 2019, 46% of our members attended 3 or less wine tastings, compared with 30% just 4 years ago.
The number attending between 4 and 7 tastings is quite similar i.e 44%.
The attendees for 8, 9 and 10 tastings are respectively 6%, 2% and 2%.
There are no prizes for guessing the identity of the couple with a 100% record, but Pat and Keith Pacey plus Renate Pluis followed the Fawles with an impressive 9 tastings each.
Obviously we have many swallows among our members and appreciate that they can never manage to attend as often as they would otherwise have liked.
This in mind we would ask you to invite your wine interested friends to join us and help boost the membership number nearer 130.
It is worth noting that the Menus and Venues team have found new restaurants to supplement the existing favourites for 2020. This I am sure, will make every Tasting event an absolute MUST.
- Treasurer’s Report – Mike Granville
The Financial Report was distributed.
The Society made a profit for the year of €666 from a slightly reduced Membership income, expenses similar to 2018 but a reduced subsidy for the wine tastings because of lower attendances.
The assets now include the money received for the Wine Trips (as this is Member’s money) and it is then reversed out to recognise the liability. There was also €136 recorded as ‘overpaid members’, recognising that some members had erroneously paid their 2020 subscriptions twice.
As at the end of the year the Society held £2225 of net assets, that is to say money in the bank and held in cash less the wine trip balance and the 2020 subscriptions paid in 2019. Mike said he had emphasised to the committee the need not to let this balance grow unnecessarily.
Mike Granville thanked Colin & Sue Donadio for their help with collecting money at Tastings whilst Mike was away.
The accounts have been audited by Keri Theophilus and a signed copy was handed to The Secretary for safe keeping.
The financial report was unanimously approved by the members.
- Election of President
Maureen Holliday advised that it was customary for the Vice President to become President and that there were no other nominations. This was proposed by Rod Anderton, seconded by Colin Donadio and unanimously approved by the Members.
At this stage, Maureen Holliday handed over the chair to the new President, Tim Fawle, who thanked Maureen for all her hard work over the year and presented a gift of a Wine Cooler and Decanter that Gaby’s sons had wanted to be passed on to a CBWS Member in recognition of Gaby’s appreciation of the CBWS.
- Election of Vice President
There were no nominations for this position and Tim Fawle highlighted that this Society was ‘Our Society’ and that we needed to find ways to handle the absence of this position, especially as 75% – 80% of the Membership were now ‘Swallows’.
- Confirmation of the remainder of 2020 Committee
Everyone else on the current Committee had agreed to continue in their positions and Tim had invited a new member, Neville Richardson, to join the Committee because of his great knowledge of wines. Neville had studied for some 600 hours to achieve the WSET Diploma, which is just below the ‘Master of Wine’ qualification and the Society could benefit from this skill & expertise,
All of the above was proposed by Martin Bentley and seconded by Sue Donadio.
- Proposed Budget 2020 – presented by Mike Granville
The 2020 Budget shows a similar level of Membership and an intentional deficit of €332, as the Society continues to plan for members to enjoy good wines and meals whilst keeping a contingency reserve.
11 Proposed Programme 2020
The President outlined his programme for the 2020 year, which can be found on the web site by clicking HERE.
To develop a varied and interesting programme of tastings throughout the year with an increased emphasis on guest speakers and a smaller number of in-house presentations.
Sandy and I have been members for 26 years now and we are aware that our membership profile has changed over time and so has the attendance. So this year I am step changing our programme to make our Society more interesting, improve membership and taste great wines
We anticipate that this will create a better attendance and commitment from members.
January 16 – Restaurante Abiss, Calpe
AGM Tasting hosted by members of the Committee and new President.
February 20 – Restaurante La Senia, Denia
The role of the Sommelier in a Michelin Star restaurant.
With the General Manager of Bon Amb, a well known Michelin star restaurant in Javea, we have secured their cooperation in organising an interesting evening. This is the first time we have had a Sommelier present to us and I have high expectations of an informative evening.
March 19 – New Venue! Restaurante Los Amigos, Javea.
This venue has had excellent reports from members.
John Davis, Wine Expert, London
John Davis, who has presented to us on several previous occasions has a solid background in the wine industry encompassing top-of-the-range wine trading, wine list management and advice, wine tastings, wine cellar stocktaking & auditing. He is the U.K. representative for a number of European wine estates and is President of The Association of Wine Cellarmen [member since 1967]. He will be giving us an informative presentation on how blends of the same grape varieties produce different results throughout the DO’s of Spain.
April 16 – Restaurante Canali, Javea
We are returning to this restaurant which we visited for the first time in November when the general consensus was very positive.
Meet Andrew Black from Bordeaux – MEMBERS ONLY
Andrew is based in Bordeaux and has spent 30 years in the wine business there. He is a Wine Educator and Journalist and teaches English to the directors of many famous bodegas and also translates wine courses and information to them. He has also extended this to Spain where again he is involved with many bodegas here.
At this tasting Andrew will introduce some interesting Bordeaux wines and may surprise us with comparisons between French and Spanish wines.
I have expectations that Andrew could be a good partner for CBWS and in our initial meeting and mail he has already come up with 10 good subjects for future tastings.
Wine Trip to Mallorca May 3 to May 6
The Wine trip this year will visit Mallorca where there are some excellent bodegas producing quality wine. In total 30 people are participating and we are looking forward to an enjoyable time.
May 21 – Restaurante Punta Negra, Denia
This is a favourite spacious venue in an idyllic setting.
Meet Mario Ruiz from Bodegas Marques de Arviza
Mario is an interesting winemaker working for his family business who have wineries producing quality wine in Rioja, Rueda, Rias Baixas and Valencia. Apart from winemaking he travels extensively in China and the US promoting their wines.
June 18 – Puerto Blanco, Calpe,
The South African Connection, how do the South Africans organise their Wine Groups?
A first hand explanation from member Bill Ingram followed by an interesting presentation from a visiting South African winemaker, Jeremy Walker, Director of Grangehurst Wines based in Stellenbosch, Western Cape.
September 17 – La Senia, Denia
In house event To Be Decided
October 5th (pending confirmation) Autumn Wine Trip
Overnight visit to a local wine region visiting 3 bodegas
October 15 – Punta Negra, Denia
Meet Eduard Morell of Bodega Vinyes del Terrer from Tarragona
Eduard will be presenting his selection of high quality wines which always achieve good points with Parker and Peñin
November 19 – Restaurante Al Bordo, Club Nautica, Javea
In house event To Be Decided
December 10 – Restaurante Canali, Javea
President’s evening and Christmas event MEMBERS ONLY
How can we improve communication and interest within CBWS? Nowadays Social media is playing a bigger role in our lives for quick communication on many many topics.
We are proposing to you that we open a Wine Society Facebook page which is a closed group to members only.
How will it be used?
If you taste an outstanding wine share your comments and a photo of the bottle you have tasted or any wine experience you think would be interesting to members. For example if you come across an interesting article copy the link and post it.
A ‘show of hands’ indicated that approximately 50% of the Members used Facebook and all agreed it was worth ‘giving it a try’.
Wine Tasting write ups Each month we will be asking a member to write a report.
We want to encourage our members to help out when help is needed and in this case write a wine report of the evening.
Our resident paparazzi photographer Martin Bentley has kindly offered to take photos during each tasting he is attending and John Sloggie has kindly produced a simple template to help in this regard. This will be available on the web site.
- Proposals for A.O.B. had been received from Hugh Epsom & Gillian Ashworth on 10th January as follows:-
They asked that these be taken as constructive suggestions as the Committee does a great job, but they and others felt that there could be room for some changes.
Point 1. Find smaller restaurants and limit attendance to 50.
It is felt that several of the restaurants used over the last few years have not been really up to standard. Either the service has been poor, or the food has not been as good as normal, or the seating arrangement has prevented clear line of sight for all to the presenter. The choice of restaurants in the past has always been limited due to the need to accommodate up to 80 people.
Rationale: Assume only half of the current membership will attend the tastings on average.
Much easier to find suitable venues for 40-50 people!
Tim Fawle, on behalf of the committee, responded that we had already moved in this direction with Restaurante Canali. We also have La Senia in Denia where we have 2 Tastings per year. There is also an ongoing review by the ‘Venues & Menus’ and generally by the committee.
Point 2. Try some Tapas Nights in place of the normal three courses. Omit
Desert. Wines at a cheaper cost
The cost of tasting has increased to the point that many members may be reluctant
to attend on a regular basis. It is felt that we do not need to be a gourmet club, and that we could budget for cheaper meals in future.
Rationale: Increases likelihood that members will attend more tastings.
Tim Fawle, on behalf of the committee, responded that it has been commented many times over the years that the wine society events are something special taking place in nice locations with good food but with the emphasis on the wines. All restaurants have increased their prices and we look for cheaper menus and venues providing the quality of the evening dos not suffer.
In the past we have looked at ‘Tapas Nights’, but it is as time consuming, if not more, to produce tapas, therefore we would not get it at a lower cost. We are looking at doing a test in one restaurante this year. Some people enjoy a postre so we have to cater for all tastes.
If we were to offer just cheaper wines we might not be meeting the criteria of a ‘Wine Society’, and we always have a variety of wine prices at a Tasting whilst keeping standards to avoid complaints that the wines were not to the expected quality!
Point 3a. Replace the current annual wine tasting competition with one that
actually rewards our members for judging the wines correctly (say
closest score to the Penin, or Parker? This could be a monthly
competition with a simple bottle of wine prize), or drop the competition
The format of the CBWS tastings has perhaps become a bit stale – it is felt that some changes could be introduced to make the events more interesting.
Rationale: Something new and fresh would be welcomed!
Tim responded that this has been discussed several times in the committee meetings and it can be seen from this year’s programme that we have many more guest speakers and are always looking for new innovations.
When wines scores were introduced, it was to establish the overall consensus of the group on the score of that wine and a wine taster of the year was introduced as a bit of fun. Parker or Penin are a guide to a wine’s rating but many small bodegas do not subscribe to these publications and we often taste wines from these bodegas. We will study this proposal but the scoring system should stay for reasons mentioned.
The competition is a bit of fun anyway.
Point 3b. Introduce more fun nights similar to “Whose Wine is it Anyway?”
We would welcome any suggestions and help in introducing a new idea
Point 3c. Subsidise expenses, or pay costs, more often to encourage better presenters to come and talk to us about good wines.
This has been already implemented in this year’s programme.
There being no other business, President Tim Fawle closed the meeting at 19.45.
21st January 2020