A Great Lunch Courtesy of Ridge
Located on the San Andreas fault line, barrels of Zinfandel used to jump around the winery during the 1970’s, or maybe it just seemed that way to the dope smoking, free thinkers of Ridge Vineyards who revolutionised the way this grape was seen through their masterfully complex Geyserville and Lytton Springs bottlings. To celebrate the 40th year anniversary of Geyserville, the importers of Ridge and president, Don Giesson, held a small series of lunches in London, pouring past and present vintages of the wines to an appreciative group of sommeliers, merchants and journalists. Our dinner was held at the Farringdon bistro, Vinoteque, where we escaped from work to enjoy some superb food and wine matches, culminating in a brilliantly slow-cooked lamb paired with the prodigious Montebello 1997, a wonderfully mature specimen of this outstanding terroir, full and elegant with a St-Estephe-like palate of mineral and spice. Don proved a very amiable host, with an almost evangelical zeal for the wines, and why not? The 2005 vintage we tasted from was one of the best for a long time, and we heard how the Santa Cruz was described by winemaker Paul Draper as being ‘as good as the top third of Montebello’s’, high praise indeed but certainly warranted by what we tasted in the glass. After some quality cheese and a top up, it was multiple espressos all-round and a dash back to work for a decidedly woozy-headed afternoon’s work from the participants.
It’s Finally Official – Roberson is the Best in London
It’s amazing what a good suit will do for you. With poise, confidence and good bearing, a well-chosen suit will give you form, tuck you in and show you at your best. None of that happened with the motley clothes worn by myself, Cliff and Mark at the annual IWC awards dinner at the Grovesner Hotel in Early September. Between us we shared a hired Moss Bross dinner jacket, an early 1990’s ill-fitting number and an eye-catching purple designer suit. Getting to Park Lane early for our photos and canapés, we mooched around chatting to some other nominees before being ushered into a room with Derek Smedly, surely one of the more unusual looking members of the wine trade, for a rather awkward photo, as we both searched for some appropriate small-talk. Photographic duties done, and a couple of glasses of champagne to the worse, we talked about our chances for the evening. Nominated for London Merchant of the Year, Independent Merchant of the year and Burgundy Specialist, we felt that we had a great chance for the London Merchant, a slim chance on the Independent Merchant, and the slimmest of slim chances in the Burgundy Specialist category. Cliff was in good form happy with Vinalba winning Best Chilean Wine, a great achievement for his new Chilean agency. Mark and myself were in good spirits, having discovered the oenomatic machine pouring multiple measures of Cepparello. Taking our places we were thrilled to win the London Merchant of the year award, ahead of Handford, Lea and Sandeman, Berry Brothers, Uncorked and others. Unfortunately the speech I had loosely outlined turned out to be unnecessary, which was a bit of a shame as I’m sure some of my ‘bon mots’ would have propelled me to the forefront of the wine-related comedy scene. All that was left was a gradual sliding down our chairs as more award-winning wine was consumed over the next three hours of awards, speeches and assorted back-slapping, sitting up briefly to see Michael Broadbent winning a much deserved lifetime achievement award to a standing ovation, which he furnished with a lovely speech featuring that hoary old anecdote about drinking old wine being like making love to an old woman, an anecdote that I would guess Mr Broadbent has told more then once. With that over, taxis were boarded, the hardcore were left to polish off the remains and I got back at about one to dream about tommorow’s meeting with Cliff on margins and stock-control, to tuck the tuxedo safely away, ready for next year, more awards, and maybe, if I put on a little weight, a better fit.
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