So it was off to Selhurst Park yesterday, the home of Crystal Palace FC. They were playing ‘my’ team, Manchester City, and I’d been kindly invited along by Palace co-chairman Stephen Browett, who is also head of Farr Vintners.
This was a crucial game. We’re coming to the end of the premiership season, and City were still in with a chance of winning the title. But only just: Liverpool, who were playing Chelsea just before the City/Palace game, were hot favourites. The equation was simple: only a Liverpool defeat, against a weakened Chelsea side, would give City any hope. Should Liverpool lose and City win, then things would be interesting – win their last three games and City would almost certainly win the premiership, even if Liverpool were to win their remaining two games, by goal difference.
I met up with chairman Browett in Crystals, the nightclub next to the ground, for a quick pint, and then it was off to the box. It is pretty cool to be able to meet with the chariman of a premier league football club before a game! Alastair and Ed of Farr looked after us very well, with some great wines. These would have made for a superb afternoon on their own, but the joy was multiplied by the football: Liverpool had already lost by the time our game kicked off, and City scored early, going on to win comfortably, 2-0.
FX Pichler Riesling Reserve M 2001 Wahcau, Austria (magnum)
Wow! This is remarkable. It’s really complex, with some toasty notes from age combined with bold crystalline citrus fruits, some spicy apricot that hints at a touch of botrytis, and a sweet honeyed edge. It’s not totally dry, but it’s not sweet, either. Such a fabulous rich, yet expressive Riesling. 94/100
Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2007 New Zealand
One of New Zealand’s best Chardonnays with a bit of age on it, although it’s still zippily youthful, with taut minerally character, some spice and a hint of matchstick, as well as pristine lemony fruit. What a superb wine – screwcapped, this will last for ever. 94/100
Jamet Côte Rôtie 2009 Northern Rhône, France (magnum)
A fabulous wine. 2009 isn’t my favourite northern Rhône vintage, but the wines are approachable now and quite delicious. This brooding Syrah shows notes of spice, meat, olive and herbs complementing the sleek black cherry fruit, with a savoury tapenade character as well as some raspberry freshness and a mineral streak. Quite fabulous. 95/100
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago, New Zealand (magnum)
Sealed with cork (luckily, a good one), this is showing very well now. It shows lovely meaty, ripe floral cherry fruit, and there’s a sappy brightness, as well as a sweet generosity to the fruit. Just lovely. 93/100