Trade fair day one
So I rock up to the London wine fair at about 2 pm. I have a few moments spare, so I taste through the Symington portfolio of Douro table wines (Altano much improved in 2005, as is Chryseia and Post Scriptum) and Ports, before heading up to the seminar rooms where I was chairing the Closures debate.
This year the focus was on retailers and their involvement in closure development, with a star-studded panel made up of Andy Gale (Tesco), Howard Winn (Sainsbury), Jenny Bond (ex-retailer, now a consultant) and Ian Rogerson (consultant who works with Co-op). Before we get going, Sam Harrop pops in to let me know the preliminary findings from the faults clinic at the International Wine Challenge. More on those in a few days.
We kick off. Last Thursday I stayed up to watch Question time to get some tips on how to run a panel debate from the master himself, David Dimbleby. While closures is a hot topic, it's not nearly as contentious as the subject matter Dimbleby deals with, but I got some useful pointers: most significantly, don't let questions hang in the air - always direct them to someone. So I reckon I did a better job this year than last, and the panel were great.
Afterwards it was time for a quick beer with James Gabbani (of Cube, organizers of the debate), Andy Gale and the Oeneo guys, before a quick stop at the Cube party. James had to explain to the bouncers not to be too rough with any drunken guests (apparently last year a wayward reveller got their face a bit mangled when they were dropped onto the concrete floor outside from a height), and Scott Burton runs after Murray McHenry (of McHenry Hohnen) to tell him that, yes, he can come in even though he doesn't the required wristband, the lack of which has led to him being refused admission. Then we get some beer. Had a nice chat with Jack Hibberd, Stuart Peskett, Christian Davis and Graham Holter, but then it was time to head off.
Dinner was with Dirk Niepoort, Swiss journalist Chadra Kurt and Cloudy Bay viticulturalist Siobhan Harnett at RSJ restaurant near Waterloo. RSJ has an incredible wine list that is almost exclusively from the Loire. We chose a 2004 Savennieres Clos de Coulaine by Claude Papin and 2005 Saumur Champigny Domaine des Roches Neuves by Thierry Germain. Dirk bought some wines: 2005 Charme, 2006 Niepoort Pinot Noir and a 1978 Colheita, all of which were great. Siobhan brought the 2004 Te Koko and a late harvest Riesling. I'll be seeing Dirk again tonight for the official 2007 Dirk Niepoort annual dinner.
Pictured is the view from the balcony of one of the waterfront rooms at Excel. Canary Wharf is visible in the distance.