Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The London Vintage Festival Part I



I’m invited by friends to the London Vintage Festival 2010.

I have been before of course.

It always begins, and ends, the same way. For some, an ambulance is never far behind.

If you haven’t been before, you must go. If you have been before, you must go back. It’s a quite wonderful day out. If you like wine. And drinking. And don’t mind getting drunk.

I prefer the mid-day sessions rather than the evenings. The staff seem to over-indulge on the Saturday night – whereas on Saturday afternoon you get to wander innocently out into the streets of Westminster, where the dazzling April brightness of it soon sends you scurrying for cover into the Army and Navy stores, a most excellent English institution where they will happily relieve you of what sanity you have left by way of pickpocketry masquerading as retail therapy. I like it.

If you haven’t been, I suggest you make a plan.

Mine goes roughly like this. Seek out quality bubbly to start – Champagne, Pelorus from the Kiwis, or my favourite, something English, from the chalk-rich Sussex Downs. I prefer RidgeView but they may not have it. Anyhow, do ensure you have two glasses, strictly for comparison purposes.

Then head for the Meursault. I rarely commend any wine as highly as I do Meursault. For me it is Ambrosia. Today at least. They’re tasting measures, so remember to have two glasses, strictly for comparison.

This is where you may begin to get drunk. Spittoons are provided, but who’d be that wasteful?

Work your way ‘down’ through the quality whites. Historically you wouldn’t find great vintages, just good representatives of the best wine styles from all around the World, but this year so-called fine wines are also being made available.

I’m very much an Old World kind of drinker – ale rather than lager – Scotch not Bourbon, so would veer towards a top heavy Chablis; Hugh Johnson prefers Premier Cru to Grand Cru so see if you agree with him, compare and contrast, maybe add in a smoky Pouilly Fuissé.

Then you have your Sancerre to consider and a chance to take in a top notch Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, strictly for comparison purposes.  

Jancis Robinson wouldn’t forgive me if I neglected Riesling, so I shan’t. I myself love that petrolly madness – no wonder the Germans gave us the speed limitless Autobahn, their heads are forever swimming in Riesling fumes.

Rosé? If you must. You’ll have to seek it out. In France I buy the Floralies, if I’m 100% honest with myself, mostly for the bottle. It has a woman’s curves.

You’ve probably had a dozen half glasses of top quality wine by now. And a glass of rosé.

Time to take time out to explore the food offerings – the pies are splendid – if you’re to have the stomach to tackle the reds. 

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