A busy day of tasting, with some memorable wines
Crazy day, but very enjoyable. It began with a seminar at the California tasting on the Napa Valley. Really well judged: an introduction, plus seven wines to taste, delivered at a rapid pace. I sat next to Neal Martin, and after a quick taste of some FMV wines (Ridge, Qupe, Au Bon Climat, Ramey), we set off together for a rather special lunch at the Ledbury.
I'll write up the wines from this lunch in detail, because they were remarkable. Keith Prothero was the host, and the occasion celebrated the visit of Chris Mullineux, who is making wines with Keith as a partner in the Swartland region of South Africa. Nigel Platts Martin, Lionel Nierop, Jim Budd, Neal Martin, Jamie Hutchinson and I were the lucky recipients of Keith's wine generosity, including La Mission Haut Brion 1978, Haut Brion 1982, Jaboulet La Chapelle 1991, Beaucastel 1981, Roumier Bonnes Mares 1994 and Yquem 1986. [Pictured are Jamie, Nigel and Lionel.]
Lunch finished at 5 pm, and then I headed over to natural wine bar Artisan and Vine in Clapham Junction I'd been meaning to visit for ages. This new venture, owned by Kathryn, an Aussie ex-management consultant, has a wonderful range of natural wines complemented by a good selection of wines from the UK. Again, more on this later.
After this I was off to another natural wine bar, Terroirs. It was for a dinner with market-leading Languedoc producer Jean-Claude Mas. Jean-Claude was a little delayed, so we started proceedings with a bottle of Boisson Rouge (the sparkling Loire red I reported on here a while back). Jean-Claude's wines are really good, and the food (small plates) was fantastic.
Also present were Tina Gellie, Guy Woodward, Joe Wadsack, Paul Stratford, Naomi Cook and Stuart Peskett. It was a jolly crowd. It turns out that Paul Stratford and I grew up in the same Buckinghamshire village: Tylers Green/Penn (going to the same junior school, but he's 8 years older than me). Now it's bedtime.