Farr Vintners Tasting at The Vintners' Hall November 17th 2009
Wednesday, 18th November 2009 by Stephen Browett
Last night we held a tasting at the historic Vintners' Hall in the City of London for some of our private customers. The event was a huge success with over 350 people attending and 82 wines on tasting, ranging from Churton's 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc back to a 1937 Vin Doux Naturel from Maury in South West France.
We were honoured to have the great Bordeaux proprietor Anthony Barton with us. Anthony served six vintages of his wines and entertained customers with his wit and wisdom. Anthony has been active in the Bordeaux wine trade since 1951 and is still going strong. Whilst everyone knows how consistently well the wines of Léoville Barton always show, we think that many customers were seriously impressed by Langoa Barton which for too long has been over-shadowed by its (slightly) bigger brother over the road. The Langoa Barton 2001 (one of Farr Vintners biggest selling wines) showed brilliantly and it's worth pointing out that in recent blind tastings Langoa has triumphed over all comers in Saint Julien flights (vintages 2001 and 2002).
We were also delighted to welcome Jean-Charles Cazes whose family are not just owners of Chateau Lynch Bages. Whilst the 2000 Lynch might have been one of the highlights of the evening, Villa Bel Air, Les Ormes de Pez and Haut Bages Averous showed extremely well and there was also an outstanding performance from the Cazes's new Chateauneuf du Pape - Domaine de Senechaux - in the brilliant 2007 vintage. This gave the more famous 2007 Beaucastel (on show for the first time since bottling) a serious run for its money.
Pichon Lalande's talented winemaker Thomas Dô-Chi-Nam brought 3 vintages of his "grand vin" as well as the silky Reserve de la Comtesse and their cru bourgeois la Bernadotte which is particularly successful in 2003.
Bernard de Laage of Chateau Palmer showed the second label, Alter Ego, in the forward and attractive 2007 vintage and two mature examples of Palmer itself - 2002 and 1996.
We had a full range of White Burgundies from Jean-Marie Guffens in the recently bottled 2008 vintage - from both his own Domaine Guffens and Maison Verget. The selection of 5 Premier Crus from Chablis was extremely interesting - all with their own strongly individual characters. In my opinion the Côtes de Lechet showed particularly well and is a classic example of the region.
France was also represented by Chateaux Canon and Rauzan Segla whose wines showed great class and character. I think that customers were especially impressed by the very high quality of the second labels here - Clos Canon and Segla - which proved what a brilliant vintage 2005 is at all price levels.
Ernie Loosen came over from Germany to show a wonderful range of his Mosel valley Rieslings. These are wines that we have always loved and recent sales indicate that they are becoming more and more popular with our customers.
Yesterday was also the first time that England has made an appearance at a Farr Vintners tasting with three vintages of Nyetimber's sparkling wines bravely sharing a table with Krug and the two Doms - Perignon and Ruinart.
Who would have thought that, with England and Germany already qualified for next year's FIFA World Cup Finals, we would see New Zealand qualifying ahead of France? Our French friends have a huge game tonight but should beware of feeling over-confident in front of Mr Barton's compatriots. Anyway, the Kiwis were in celebratory mood last night with Alastair Woolmer showing off the new single vineyard "Hunting Hill" from Kumeu River and a slightly jet-legged Warren Adamson (just off the plane from Auckland), with three brilliant reds from Craggy Range. These are as great as their recent rave reviews in The Wine Advocate.
To finish off on a sweet note, we served Hungarian Tokays from The Royal Tokaji Company and three fascinating old Vin Doux Naturels from 1956, 1950 and 1937.
One of the highlights of the evening was Farr Vintners attempt to incorporate a Quiz Night into a Wine Tasting with our "Mystery Wine Competion". Customers were invited to taste a mystery wine and guess where it was from, with the winner to receive a bottle of the 100 point rated Chateau Montrose 2003 with our compliments. Congratulations to Daniel Thornton of Kensington who was our winner, and the only person to correctly guess that the wine was a 2005 Medoc Cru Bourgeois. It was, in fact, 2005 Chateau Phélan Segur a wine that has amazed us at recent blind tastings and which was scored 95 points by Neal Martin at the big Southwold 2005 tasting earlier this year. Most people guessed the wine to be a serious red Bordeaux and significantly more prestigious than its official "bourgeois" ranking. Typical answers being "2005 2nd growth Pauillac" or "2006 Chateau Montrose". Finally, a message to Mr P of London SW11 who gets the wooden spoon for guessing it to be a Savigny Les Beaune. Don't worry, Mr P, your secret is safe with me.