The 10th of February marked our biannual Trade Tasting at the Lansdowne Club in London's Mayfair. The event this year coincided nicely with the UK launch of The Michel Rolland Collection and our latest agency - Hartenberg Estate from South Africa. Although Michel Rolland was unable to stay with us for the trade tasting his able representatives in the UK, Lahcène Boutouba and David Lesage, guided visitors through these remarkable wines.
On the neighbouring stand, Huibré Hoff, the irrepressibly enthusiastic Export Manager for Hartenberg, made sure nobody passed by without tasting the whole range. Despite the breadth of wines from the estate, the quality remains impressively high. The reds in particular have received numerous plaudits from critics in the UK and overseas and are sure to take the UK market by storm.
We were also graced with the presence of Laurent Juillot from the legendary Michel Juillot estate in Mercurey. As ever his wines drew plenty of interest, not least because of the sensational Corton Grand Crus on show. No doubt a day in London's frenetic West End must have come as a mild culture shock to Laurent, used to the tranquillity of the Côte Chalonnaise!
We are always honoured when winemakers can take time from their busy workloads to talk to customers about their wines. It creates a real sense of authenticity when people can pick the brains of the person who created the wines they are drinking. Their infectious zeal for their craft is captivating and adds real sense of provenance to the product.
After an intensive day of talking and tasting we were glad to put our feet up and enjoy a few pints at the nearest pub. Winemakers, however, are a hardy bunch and usually insist on seeing the sights of London well after most of us have sneaked off home. We're sure they'll be back for the next tasting in the autumn!