Shortly before South Africa announced it was looking for a new coach to help its footballers side make a fist of things as World Cup host nation next summer, a group of singers crooned ‘happy birthday to you’ (South African wine was 350 years old) and offered cup cakes an champagne to the slightly bemused visitors to the mega Wines of South Africa tasting at Earls Court last week. The wines certainly seem to be doing a better job than the footballers.
Following Tory Party chairman Eric Pickles’ lead in imposing a champagne ban at the Tory Party conference in Manchester, a Tory government will increase taxes on champagne and, in an effort to crack down on late-night licensing, bring in stringent new anti-crime measures members to stop Tory party members getting drunk on bubbly and stealing bottles of champagne.
No blog last week, I’m afraid. My computer expired or rather the back light went, which meant a new computer and retrieving files and folders that hadn’t been backed up. A new machine was long overdue as the old one was playing havoc with my patience, always slow, constantly sticking and generally leading me a merry dance.
If you’re a woman who loves wine, you can only dream of hosting a dinner table with such living legends of wine as Anthony Barton, Michael Broadbent, Angelo Gaja, Baron Eric de Rothschild, Hugh Johnson, Serge Hochar and Nicolas Catena. The dream came true last week for Decanter Magazine’s publishing director Sarah Kemp, who surrounded herself with past Decanter Men of the Year at a posh dinner held in honour of Nicolás Catena.
I was in Le Marche last week on a trip organised by the knowledgeable Italian specialist Michèle Shah. BBC.co.uk/weather’s gloomy forecast had been for heavy showers Wednesday to Saturday, so I took my umbrella. Just as well because it was gloriously sunny and warm for most of the time, although it did rain for 5 minutes when I was in Serrapetrona, whose quirky red spumante, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, was Le Marche’s first DOCG. Not that this small Adriatic region halfway down Italy’s eastern seaboard has a huge number of DOCGs.
Twit or twitterer? I succumbed to the twitterverse recently in a belated attempt to find out more about the social media phenomenon. So when asked if I’d like to attend a Twitter tasting at L’Anima, Peter Marano’s Italian restaurant tucked between Moorgate and Liverpool Street, I had my doubts. Not because of l’Anima but because I had no idea what a Twitter tasting was or what it was for.
Next week Decanter Magazine unveils the results of its World Wine Awards, in which Croatia is hailed as a major force in wine because it won more gold medals than more established rivals, among them the United States, New Zealand, Portugal and Argentina. This is a major achievement of course, but it will come as no surprise to the Croatians themselves, who’ve been making excellent wine over the past couple of decades.
I was pleased to see recognition for Croatia in the Telegraph online today. The article underlines the growing importance of this exciting wine country and I feel sure that once the UK wine trade has got its head around just how good these wines are, we’ll start to see a Tesco Finest Graševina, an Asda Extra Special Malvazija and a Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Plavac Mali. On second thoughts, don’t hold your breath.
Applied together, the words living and legend should be used sparingly, but in the case of Peter Lehmann the two go as naturally together as jam and doughnuts. Described by the late Len Evans as ‘a cheerful light heavyweight with a face like a dried mudflat’, Peter Lehmann is the man who held the wine industry together at a time when the white wine revolution and vine-pull scheme of the 1980s threatened to blow the Barossa away.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.