Dinners, Favourite Posts

End of Year Stocktake 2012

‘Actually, I rather like birthdays. It is a good reason to talk to yourself, to ask yourself what you have been doing, what you are doing and what you will do. Girls who can’t go off and talk to themselves stay girls and never become women. Women who can’t take stock turn to drink, take pills or worse, but I can take stock. I can send for the bill of life and add it up too. If I ever feel depressed I consider what I have done and what I have accomplished — starting from nothing and arriving now with so much happiness.” – Sophia Loren

The dreaded stock take! A necessary evil in restaurants or retail is to count up all the bottles at the end of the month and see if they tally with the sales. This post stocktakes all the bottles and conversations over the year. Looking back, 2012 seems to add up to a fine balancing act between bling and natural wines. Here are some of my highlights from the first 6 months:


Starting the year as we hoped to carry on with a bottle of 2006 Ca’ del Bosco Dosage Zero Franciacorta, my favourite sparkling Italian wine made in the Champagne method. Sadly, within weeks, we hear the artist of the Veneto Giuseppe Quintarelli passed away leaving a large space in the wine world. The last time I had this same feeling of loss was when Didier Dagueneau left the realm.

January is a big month in the wine trade for work and also catching up with friends. After hours it was all plus craze 07 Domaine Daniel Dugois Arbois, 06 Zidarich Vitorkska Friuli and 09 Morgon Cote du Py Foillaird

Rene Papin’s 2010 Clos de Coulaine Savennieres as @willielebus says he imagines the food match would be with a beautiful grilled snake.

Thus spake Hugh Johnson at Bibendum’s Annual Tasting. Only a master could sum up the whole wine industry in two perfect sentences:

“Wine has messages, resonances like no other commodity. It’s a precise record of place and time.”

Speaking of messages in a bottle, I found this treasure, a 1959 Rivesaltes, digging through a friend’s cellar – one of the most underrated sweet wines on the planet.

Ragazze with Venegazzu: the month ended with dinner at the River Cafe with Emily O’Hare, Willie Lebus, Paul Pujol (Prophet’s Rock, NZ) and a bottle of 1979 Venegazzu with plenty of dimethyol sulfates – in other words the smell of the sea and oyster.

Walking home from the River Cafe I saw a fox on Main Street, Hammersmith. He had a bowtie on I’m sure, cheeky thing.


There’s nothing like a Dom Perignon launch to lift the mood of February. Especially when the “dark revelation” tasting was hosted by the pleasantly provocative Douglas Blyde. Winner of the Best Choreography for a Tasting 2012.

Here I am trying to keep it together talking about Crystal Head vodka (and Margaux and Niagara wine) with Dan Ayckroyd.

 After the flashiness of the first part of the month, the last half was dominated by low-key natural wines. One of the most interesting wines of the year: Ludwig Bindernagel Jura (Chardonnay/Savagnin) bought in Paris. A very rich moment – is this when retro is cool? It made me feel a bit uncomfortable so I loved it.

Bien-etre. Winter sun, a glass of fantastic Pierre Overnoy Arbois, great company with Donald Edwards @donalde at brilliant Bistro Paul Bert in 11e Paris.



After the honeymoon with Natural wines in February, the contrast could not be greater: March was all about Parker re-releasing the 2009 scores, which he announced on twitter IN ALL CAP LETTERS.

The 2009 points release made this year feel like Bordeaux En Primeur started very early. And at 12:15 on 6th March I was  wondering whether it was going to be another long En Primeur campaign. And as Linden Wilkie asked, “Am I the only one who went straight to #Schildknecht’s Mosel report?”

On March 22nd I organised a Pichon-Lalande dinner for Sylvie Cazes and private clients at Quo Vadis in Soho. Thrilled to bits to find 1975 Pichon-Lalande is fresh, lively and an amazingly young colour. The gent next to me asks, Has anyone got a cigar? The menu was very simple with lamb three ways with Montgomery cheddar with Lalande Reserve and Grand Vin 03, GV 00, 96, 86, 75.

@nealmartin Superb Pichon Lalandes ce soir. 1975 a little gem to finish. 


Lost on the Rocade. In Bordeaux for En Primeur, my Fine Wine Director Ben Collins’ note once we finally got to Haut Brion, “The wine was wonderful. Ps driver sacked.”

Entendu cette semaine “en fait les primeurs, c’est la fashion week du vin” – @HugoMarcade

The big question we were debating at time: Did Robert Parker deliberately want to knock the stuffing out of Lafite prices. Or was it purely the taste of the wine?

The last time I see the view from Latour now Latour has dropped out of the En Primeur. My wine of 2011 Bordeaux En Primeur this year:

The month finished with tasting the latest vintage of Krug released from cellar in February. Like a new born baby, I believe it will grow fast and fatter by next April.



At Oz Clarke’s book launch for his re-release of his book on Bordeaux, a 1982 La Lagune from out of nowhere. Magic.

May is Nebbiolo Prima time. Not all of the 2008s were great but this vintage put the great producers on the map.


On with the winter coat.

The big news in June was the whole region of Burgundy had moved according to the Daily Mail:

It is always fun to catch up with my italian friends at Wines of Italy tasting. This year I found a Molise wine leading the pack like a marathon runner at the Olympics with no shoes. Powerful 100% Tintilia from Azienda Agricola Cinfagna.

In other Italian wine news, the Consorzio of Brunello di Montalcino announced its new president – Fabrizio Bindocci of Il Poggione.

The Jura love affair continues with a bit of a splurge on Cotes du Jura Savagnin Presse from Etienne Thiebaud from 259 Hackney Road.

Toasted the summer solstice with a bottle of 1988 Dom Perignon with @benxwine but the sun still was still not happy and didn’t show up. We were happy, though.

And finally, Google directed a search to this website to the query, “What to wear to bordeaux vineyard?” Philip White (Drinkster) recommended: “In Medoc I’d wear a thoroughbred and hunters; St Emillion the company of my thirstiest old lover with a proper gutful of laughs.” Thank you, Mr White. This blog tries to be helpful with vineyard style tips.

The first half of the year had all the glitz of Champagne and Bordeaux balanced out by stand-out natural wines from the Loire and Jura. The next half of the year was only to become more intense with the Olympics in town.



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