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Decanter Magazine Wine Encounter

As a follow up to our 25th Wedding Anniversary French extravaganza, we took the EuroStar train from Paris to London in order to participate in the "Decanter" Magazine annual Wine Encounter.
The event took place during the weekend of November 22-23 at the beautiful Landmark Hotel in London, where we settled ourselves in great style for three days.

"The Decanter Wine Encounter" consisted of three venues:

  • A wine exhibition. Some 40-50 winemakers from all over the world came to present their ware.
  • A series of eight Master Classes given by the relevant star winemakers themselves.
  • A gala dinner pampered with good wines, each presented by its producer.

    The Wine Exhibition

    Unfortunately, we had very little time to spend there as the Master Classes took all our time... I did pop in once for half an hour. Lined up in small stalls, winemakers from around the world offered a taste of their wines. I actually spent most of my time there chatting with Monsieur Henry-Thomas Moillard, whose winery in Nuits-St. Georges I visited last year.
    The list of names is long (and mostly unfamiliar to me). Among the better known there were:

    France: Moillard, Lynch-Bages, Chapoutier, Gosset
    Australia: Penfolds, Rosemount, Petaluma
    USA: Robert Mondavi, Stag's Leap
    Italy: Bava, Ceretto, Avignonesi
    Portugal: Fonseca, Quinta do Noval
    Additionally there were wines from Germany, Austria and Spain

    The Master Classes

    There were eight Master Classes, four on Saturday and four on Sunday. Each Master Class lasted about an hour and a half and typically involved tutored tasting of 10-14 different wines.
    Almost all the sessions were sensationally exciting, highly educative and very tasty too...
    The format for all Master Classes was similar. About 60-80 people were seated along eight rows of long tables. On the tables, in front of each participant, was a paper-cover with glass-fitting black circles and the respective wine names printed on them. With a few exceptions, the glasses were all filled with the wines beforehand. Pre-printed sheets of papers were provided of course for personal notes for each wine.
    Most of the luminaries that presented their wines are extremely fascinating 'types' in their own right. Whether they are traditionalists or innovators, conventional or controversial - they all share one thing in common: It is evident they all strive (and succeed!) to make the best wines possible and to express the uniqueness of the 'raw material' they have in their hands.
    We attended seven of the eight sessions. Their subjects were:

    (click for a full report)
    * Horizontal tasting of Vintage Champagne - Steven Spurrier
    * Australian Gold: Petaluma - Len Evans & Brian Corser
    * Pauillac Superstar: Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron - Jean-Michel Cazes
    * Passion for Port: Fonseca - Bruce Guimaraens
    * Wizard of the Mosel: Dr. Loosen - Ernst Loosen
    * Essential Burgundy: Louis Jadot - Patrick McGrath
    * Riding the Rhone: Chapoutier - Michel Chapoutier

    The Decanter Vintage Dinner

    About 100 people (my estimate) attended the gala dinner. 10-12 people were seated around each table, with one of the winemakers acting as "host" at each table. The food was pretty very good for such a big gathering. The wines were mostly excellent. Each wine, before it was poured, was presented by its winemaker who talked shortly about it.
    Here is the menu and the wines:

    Champagne Pol Roger 1990 (en magnum)
    Quail's Eggs with Avocado & Chilli Salsa
    Petaluma Riesling 1982
    Fillet of Red Mullet with aromatic leaves
    Puligny-Montrachet 'Clos de la Pucelle' 1988 - Chartron & Trebuchet
    Roasted loin of lamb with pearl barley and glazed pumpkin, rosemary jus
    Chateau Talbot 1982 (en magnum)
    Marinated goat's cheese baked in filo pastry
    Hermitage 'La Sizeranne' 1991 - Chapoutier (en jeroboam)
    Poached pear with noisette mousse and nougat
    Nyulaszo Aszu 5 Puttonyos 1991 - Royal Tokaji
    Coffee and Petit fours
    Chateau de Laubande Bas-Armagnac

    As you can see, we worked hard these two days, but enjoyed every moment of it!

    Kudos to "Decanter" Magazine, its relentless yet charming editor Sarah Kemp and her dedicated stuff, who managed to faultlessly stage up such a unique, tasty, educative and entertaining weekend.

    Reach Me? yak@yakshaya.com

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    Jacob "Yak" Shaya.