The Greatest Show on Earth (well, almost)

POSTED ON 16/11/2009

“Great show on Saturday. The crowd were really switched on and, as I said, I thought the pace of things was just right”.

“Just wanted to say what a fantastic tasting you organised on Saturday. It was really well organised and there was a fantastic atmosphere. The consumers who attended were really interested in wine and it was great to take them through some of the wines in our range”.

Wine walking at VinopolisWine walking at Vinopolis

“A big thanks for a wonderful day at Vinopolis for your first Wine Gang event. You must be really pleased with the way things went and there were many positive comments from others there”.

“ Well done for a great first wine show, it was brilliant. Lots of excellent wines, not enough time or stamina to taste them all! Looking forward to the next one”.

These were just a few of the comments that we, The Wine Gang, received after our first ever Christmas wine fair, which took place at Vinopolis on Saturday. I would say it wouldn’t I, but our inaugural event was heartening, uplifting and very good fun, if standing on your feet welcoming your guests and taking them round from 10.30 am until 6 pm can be described as fun. Music and wine walks along with plenty of animated chatter combined to give the great brick railway arch halls a terrific atmosphere. There were around 600 wines to taste and my only regret was that I didn’t get to taste more of the amazing wines on offer.

Somehow, between the wine walks and the meeting and greeting, I did manage to taste some unbelievably good wines, among them 2005 Pichon Lalande Reserve de la Comtesse, Lodovico Antinori’s 2006 Pino di Biserno, the excellent Le Mesnil 2002 Champagne, the 2004 Contino Rioja Reserva, Petaluma’s fine 2008 Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Riesling, a delicious 2007 Château Clos Cantenac St.Emilion Grand Cru from Château de Sours’ Martin Krajewski, the 2008 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir, Dirk Niepoort’s 2005 Redoma and many more delights.

Pours for thought: Martin Krajewski, Château de SoursPours for thought: Martin Krajewski, Château de Sours

There was a really good mix of big retailers, among them M & S, Majestic, Oddbins, Tesco and Waitrose, smaller independents of the calibre of Corney & Barrow, The Wine Society, Adnams, and Wines of the World, specialists like Colasanti (Italy), Eclectic Wines (Greece), importers (Enotria, Liberty, Maison Marques et Domaines, Louis Latour, Hatch Mansfield), producers (Château de Sours, Concha y Toro, Codorniù, Penfolds, Wolf Blass) and the generics of Chile, Oregon and Washington and Portugal. All in all a fantastic blend and we hope to make it even bigger and better next year (provisional date Saturday 6 November 2010).

Gongs AwayGongs Away

In the afternoon we gave 10 awards to wines that had done particularly well in the Wine Gang’s regular tastings as well as some wines that each of us picked as representing one or other fun aspect of Christmas. And so, cue drumroll, at the presentation ceremony in the afternoon session, the inaugural Wine Gongs, announced by Olly Smith were:

Best White Under £10: Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007 /2008, Casablanca, Chile, Co-op, Majestic

Best Red Under £10: Domaine Vistalba Viñalba Malbec/Syrah 2006, Patagonia, Argentina, Asda

Greatest White Over £10: Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin Blanc 2007, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Waitrose

Greatest Red Over £10: Craggy Range Bannockburn Sluicings Pinot Noir 2007, Central Otago, New Zealand, Majestic

Best Sparkling Wine: Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 1999, Champagne, France, Corney & Barrow

Making an exhibition of themselvesMaking an exhibition of themselves

Olly’s Most Romantic Wine: Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, Laithwaites

Tim’s Cheveux du Chien Wine: 2007 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, Berry Bros & Rudd

Jo’s Santa’s Seduction Wine: Marks & Spencer Vintage Port 1994, Douro, Portugal, Marks & Spencer

Tom’s Queen's Speech Wine: Ridgeview Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2004, Sussex, England, Berry Bros & Rudd

Ant’s Christmas Pudding Wine: De Bortoli Old Boys Shiraz, Australia, Oddbins

Check out the Video of the event at:

Hospices de Beaune

This year’s Hospices de Beaune sale takes place this Sunday, 15 November. Christie’s who have been conducting the sale recently call it ‘the result of more than six centuries of history’. Thanks to generous endowments of vineyards over the years the hospital in Beaune has been able to put up 44 wine cuvées of the new vintage wines for auction. The wines are bought in barrel, not bottle, by a combination of local wine merchants hoping to look magnanimous, restaurateurs looking for prestigious wines to put on their list, and keen collectors for whom the cachet of a barrel of Hospices de Beaune burgundy is too much to resist.

According to Christie’s, ‘superb quality, young Burgundy wines - vins primeurs – can be acquired, at prices to suit all budgets, and it is possible to customise the bottles with your name, or that of your business or organisation, being printed on the labels’. Of course you expect the hard sell from Christie’s website but I was a little taken aback to hear burgundy expert Anthony Hanson MW and auctioneer David Elswood, both of Christie’s wine department, promoting the charity auction with such gusto at a recent tasting at Christie’s St. James’s’ put on for the event that they sounded more like enthusiastic timeshare salesmen keen to drum up business than pin-striped wine auctioneers.

Hospices RedsHospices Reds

I must admit I had been rather hoping that the tasting would be a preview of the 2009s, especially as they’ve been much talked up, but instead we were shown a selection of older vintages, both red and white. There was surprising variation across the board with the 2003 reds showing disappointingly, but not unexpectedly because of the hot year, a disaster for pinot noir, thick, alcoholic and hot. By contrast the 2005 reds were almost all glorious with lots of pinot noir fragrance and classic red fruits, the star of the show the fabulously seductive 2005 Clos de la Roche, Cuvé Georges Kritter. There were some magnificent whites too, a 2006 Meursault-Genevrières, 2005 Meursault-Blagny and 2006 Corton-Charlemagne in particular. All in all, the tasting demonstrated that the quality of winemaking at the Hospices is so excellent today, albeit much depending on vintage, that if you can pick up a barrel (around 300 bottles) at a decent price, it’s a pretty sound investment. As I have yet to taste a 2009, I can only say at this stage, caveat emptor, and, since I hope to be in Adelaide, I shan’t be sticking my hand up for a barrel this year.

Our sponsor