To savour or to quaff?

It’s hard to believe I have been back for a month; the summer trip to France seems like a lifetime away!

I said that I’d be taking September ‘off’ but I’ve surprised myself with just how much I’ve been doing – not entirely sure how I ever fitted the corporate work life in! In just this short space of time I’ve realised just how much I ended up cramming into weekends or the reverse and just not getting round to doing things.

One of those jobs I never seemed to get round to doing was sorting out my cellar from being a dumping ground into somewhere where I could store wine. So this was one of the first things I did on my return. I’m delighted it with it! There is method in my ordering of the wine, the different styles are split out, they’re labelled for when they should be drunk, what food they go with and if they’re special bottles; but the most important is that the right hand side is out of bounds to anyone but me…

The new cellar storage and the wine purchases from France

It’s great to have purchased some fantastic wine which will only improve with more years in the bottle. I’m also pleased to have picked up good quality wines ready for drinking now. However, at the same time I have become extremely protective of my wine from France; I don’t want to just open a bottle of an evening and ‘quaff’ it down whilst watching the latest great drama on the box – I want to open it at the right time, with the right food and simply savour it. Of course this is wonderful in principle but of course there are times when you just want to open up a great easy drinker that hasn’t cost the earth, that doesn’t have special meaning or memory and one where you don’t have to think about it.

So just two days back from France I ended up doing an order from The Wine Society ordering in a few bottles of my favourite Chianti Classico and White Burgundy just for those quaffing times. When explaining this to my Dad he coined the phrase ‘you want to savour not slosh’ which is my sentiment exactly… albeit I feel the word slosh implies exceedingly drunk… and just to show a little more class (and pretend I never get exceedingly drunk) I’ve replaced with the word ‘quaff’ instead…

I have been doing a fine balance of savouring and quaffing this past four weeks. Not long after my return I headed to the West London Wine School to taste nine wines from the incredibly good 2009 Bordeaux vintage. Surprisingly (to me) a number of them still need more years to develop to get to their best. Having said that I was exceedingly partial to the Chateau Moulin-Riche from Saint-Julien AOC and the Chateau Batailley from Pauillac- neither particularly cheap, (although good value compared to others) and probably more destined for the right hand side of the cellar!

At the weekend a group of us went to the Bolney Wine Estate where we did a little tour followed by a tasting. After this we savoured their Pinot Noir on the terrace and then quaffed (oh ok sloshed) an incredible amount more at the pub and the house dancing to our favourite tunes. (This is definitely not a time to savour wine!)

A sunny afternoon at Bolney and the Bordeaux 2009 vintage

Last week I headed to Pollen Street Social, my favourite restaurant in London. We were offered an aperitif from the fantastic sparkling wine trolley. Keen to use my new found understanding of my preferred taste of champagne (i.e. I seem to prefer ones that have more Pinot Noir in them) I asked the sommelier a couple of questions before settling on the Krug which my friend also had. Unfortunately I didn’t ask the price and it turned out that it was £36 a GLASS. After a subtle stutter and two pairs of raised eyebrows I at least take some comfort from recognising quality but lesson learned – sure another one would have sufficed! Immediately after we went and quaffed a cheap bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the sunshine.

And then finally last night I was up in Manchester as a round one judge for the People’s Choice Wine Awards. Wow. It was like the equivalent of speed dating – I have never tasted and evaluated so many wines in such a short space of time! I had three categories, whites that go with light food, reds of the same and the battle of the roses; over 30 wines in total. There simply was no time to savour but at the same time I didn’t quaff either. It was a great evening and I met some brilliant people, I’m looking forward to finding out what they were (we blind tasted) and who goes on to win.

So yes, this past month has been a fine balance of savouring and quaffing and I like doing both; every tasting and visit is a new learning experience and there’s nothing wrong with a £7 bottle that you enjoy.

Over the next month I’m getting my head down and starting to build my business plan. I also start the French Wine Scholar Course this week where I’ll be tasting some fantastic regional wines to remind me of my trip and maybe just maybe I will start to open the ones I’ve brought home with me.