A Spanish dinner and some Brazilians
Last night’s dinner was indeed black tie. It was the Twenty-Fourth Investiture Dinner of the Gran Order de Caballeros del Vino, to give it its full title. I’m not quite sure what the Gran Order de Caballeros del Vino are, other than that three more people joined their ranks last night; that they are almost exclusively male and middle-aged; they have made or promoted or sold Spanish wine to a level at which they are invested by the mysterious ‘Order’; and they get to wear funny hats and red capes at this event each year. Tim Atkin, Charles Metcalfe and John Radford are the journalists I spotted among their ranks.
Anyway, the speeches and general silliness (there was a loyal toast, for example) were kept to a minimum, and it was a really nice dinner with about 300 people in attendance. The wines served were:
- René Barbier Brut Reserva Cava (OK – pretty typical Cava)
- Williams & Humbert Alegría Manzanilla (bright, fresh, delicious)
- Martín Códax Viña del Alba 2006 Rías Baixas (wasn’t as fresh or aromatic as I was expecting)
- Storks’ Tower Sauvignon Blanc Verdejo 2007 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León (really vibrant, grassy and fresh)
- La Paz Tempranillo 2006 La Mancha (quite bright with nice fruit expression)
- Legaris Reserva 2003 Ribera del Duero (nice fruit, but a sweet, oaky, rich style)
- Luis Cañas Amaren Reserva 2002 Rioja (this was nicely balanced with focused fruit)
- González Byass Noé Muy Viejo Pedro Ximénez (deliciously rich, quite complex, ultra sweet)
I didn’t leave until almost 2 am, and then had a horridly early start which meant catching the 0810 Stansted Express to visit HwCg at their offices in Bishop's Stortford, close to the airport (their olde worlde tasting room is pictured). My brief was to taste and make notes on the 80 wines that retailer wines4business have just listed, which is actually quite an arduous task, especially when you’ve been up to late the night before. I got there just after nine, having retrieved my coat that, in my sluggish state, I’d left on the train. Phew. It was still there. The 80 wines took just under three hours to taste, and then I had to hurry back to London to taste some Brazilian wines.
Junior Vianna is a Brazilian living in London who is doing his MW dissertation on whether Brazilian Merlot has potential for the UK marketplace, and he needed some help. A crack team of seven of us, including Jo Aherne, Sam Harrop, Peter McCombie and John Worontshak tasted through 17 Brazilian Merlots blind, and then discussed our opinions. It was quite an in-depth session, lasting three hours. The conclusion? Not yet. So ends day three of my freelance life. I think I’ll take it a bit easier tomorrow.