Thu 06 Dec 2012

All I Want for Christmas is a…


… half bottle of delicious, delectable, unctuous sherry.

Williams & Humbert 'As You Like It' Amontillado

Williams & Humbert ‘As You Like It’ Amontillado

Once you’ve worked at The Society for a few months it dawns on you that much of your hard-earned income is going to be transferred straight back to your employers.

‘I didn’t see any point in bringing you a bottle of wine’ is a phrase you get all too familiar with as yet another friend turns up at your doorstep with a bunch of flowers and, er, little else. Or worse, they think it highly amusing that they bring a bottle of the latest gimmicky, confected high-street plonk in order to ‘keep me real’, before making great inroads into my prized, but far from bottomless, cellar (if that isn’t making a bit too much of my cupboard under the stairs).

The trouble with working here is that friends and family expect you to blow them away with the wines you provide. ‘Should be easy given your privileged position,’ I hear you cry. Employees of The Society are in constant search of the ‘wow’ bottle with which to woo friends.

Subtlety and elegance, I’ve found to my cost, don’t really do it. ‘You’ll be amazed at the refinement of this godello from north-west Spain’ doesn’t always cut the mustard with guests who rarely shop outside the supermarkets and think that I drink Meursault for breakfast*.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my rundown of winners that don’t disappoint or necessitate re-mortgaging the house:

Wacky: for non-geeks. Chateau Musar is always a revelation and well met. ‘Lebanon? Wine? Who knew?’ and it’s delicious. Equally, Moroccan syrah.

A flavour of the unknown: Kiwi pinot. Though, strangely (and I don’t know why), this works better for men than women. Women, in my experience, seem to prefer a heartier brew.

A flavour unknown II: good Madeira is always a winner – and this is more for women than men I find.

Maturity: Marcel Orford-Williams released some ten-year-old Alsace riesling last Christmas for under £20 that was a big hit.

So that brings me, at last, to the sherry, which fulfils majestically and deliciously all criteria.

Everybody say: ‘Ahhhhh…’

Never before have I seen such a room full of usually loud opinionated people becalmed by a mince pie and a glass of amber liquid as I did this week.

And what a liquid. It was Williams & Humbert As You Like It Amontillado, a wine I first noticed when I saw that buyer Toby Morrhall said that it had ‘bowled him over’. That takes some doing. But I completely see what he means. The wine is now about 30 years old and the ageing process has mellowed the beguiling dried fruit and nutty flavours making them gloriously rich, complex and just oh so irresistible. It’s a wine to sniff and savour and luxuriate in. The palate doesn’t disappoint either: adding a welcome freshness to the rich flavours. We tried it with mince pies, but piquant Cheddar or perhaps even a strong blue cheese would, I’m sure, work just as well. Or just savour a glass by the fire. At £22 per half bottle I grant you that this isn’t a cheap wow – but it’s Christmas and such is the richness and intensity that a little goes a long way.

Friends and family please note that this is now top of my Christmas wish list, and my new favourite wow wine. Anyone turning up at my doorstep clutching such a bottle is guaranteed a very warm welcome indeed.

Paul Trelford
Head of Copy

* For the record I don’t … OK, there was that one time but that was very much the exception.

Categories : Fortified, Spain


  1. Jerry W says:

    “I didn’t see any point in bringing you a bottle of wine”

    Ha ha, I get that too, and I just like drinking the stuff! Sympathy..

    I also agree that you can’t sell subtlety. With friends round for dinner a big new world wine beats my beloved white burgundies and clarets and similar every time, in terms of favourable comments received. sad, but there you are..

  2. Robin Gray says:

    What fun!

  3. Dan says:

    “Subtlety and elegance, I’ve found to my cost, don’t really do it.”

    LOL So true!
    Great piece.

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