Grapevine Archive for July, 2010

Thu 29 Jul 2010

The Albertopolis Wine King

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Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook live on BBC Radio 3 from the cellars of The Royal Albert Hall

Via a fascinating BBC Radio 3 broadcast during the Prom concert last night (28th July), we were able to delve deeper into the facts about the man who founded The Wine Society – Major-General Henry Darracott Scott.

‘Twenty Minutes’ – the programme that happens every night during the interval of the concert – focused on the architect and builder of the Royal Albert Hall who was also Secretary of the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and hence organiser of the International Exhibition from where we draw our full name (The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society). The insufficient publicity behind the event led to there being an awful lot of wine left in the cellars of the Hall and the rest, as they say, is history.

Presenter Christopher Cook and producer Michael Surcombe are both members of The Society. I was invited to speak on behalf of The Society and, along with other guests, featured in the programme which you can listen to here on the BBC iPlayer (until Tuesday 3rd August).

Whether you heard the programme live last night or have listened online since, please do let us know your impressions by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Categories : Miscellaneous
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Wed 14 Jul 2010

A taste of things to come …

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Putting together the programme for our tastings and events in October, November and December is quite demanding, and so often we can’t see the wood for the trees. Standing back now, however, with a pristine copy of the new leaflet in hand, and watching the tickets go live on the website this morning, we’re starting to get excited.

Paul Draper

Paolo de Marchi

To meet such luminaries as Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, John Kolasa of Château Rauzan-Ségla, Jorge Muga of Bodegas Muga, Paolo de Marchi of Isole e Olena, food & wine matching expert Fiona Beckett, not to mention a host of winemakers at our UGCB, Portuguese, South African and Spanish tastings, and to be able to organise events for Society members where we can all benefit from their experience and knowledge, is quite simply a privilege, and one I and the tastings team would like to share with as many of you as possible.

You can view the full programme of events at

Categories : Wine Tastings
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Thu 01 Jul 2010

Ribera Del Duero, Coca-Cola & Rafael Nadal

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Rafael NadalThe picture quality may be poor, but here is No. 1 tennis player Rafael Nadal enjoying a glass of the excellent Bóhorquez, Ribera del Duero, at Cambio de Tercio Restaurant in London.

Drinking it alonside a bottle of coke bemused me somewhat, reminding me of a Japanese customer who regularly purchased Château Margaux 1982 (at London merchant Berry Bros when I worked there) because his wife loved adding coke to every glassful! At least Rafael has the decency to use a separate glass.

Categories : Miscellaneous, Spain
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Thu 01 Jul 2010

Peas Please Me with Pinot Gris!

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Peas PleaseI’ve been overdosing on asparagus since the Morris Men dusted off their bells in April, and I’m not wholly sorry to wave them off for another year. Not in the least tempted by the sprue, sorry-looking spears outstaying their welcome at seasonally-challenged supermarkets, I’m now wolfing down home-produced peas and broad beans. For them, I invariably reach for sauvignon blanc, but a much more exciting match I have found this summer is Kiwi pinot gris.

This hard-to-pin-down style, that often scores 3 or 4 on The Society’s sweetness scale can vary from soft and ample to unattractively sweet, and one reason for that is vine age. My colleague Pierre Mansour, who buys The Society’s New Zealand wines tells me that younger vines – and many of New Zealand’s pinot gris plantings fall into this category – tend to produce grapes with less concentration and more acidity, which has to be countered with residual sugar, making the resultant wines taste awkward and unbalanced. It’s the subtler sweetness in the drier, more concentrated styles our Pierre seeks out that resonate best with the sugars in the peas. I also find in Kiwi whites a uniquely leguminous quality which, unless it’s totally out of balance (what we call “asparagussy”), works brilliantly here too. Try a glass of Kumeu River pinot gris with a summer risotto, pea or bean purees (lovely with grilled lamb or fish), or the classic pasta sauce of broad beans, bacon, sage and cream.

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