Vintage gems from the London International Wine and Food Society summer events programme
• Garage or garbage? Rare wines from the winemaking rebels from Bordeaux – 3 April
• Fine and rare white Burgundies dating back to 1955 – 8 April
• Dinner by Heston – 1 May
• A tutored tasting of fine red Burgundies from the 1950s – 12 May
• Bird of Smithfield – 17 June
• A tutored tasting of fine vintages from the Sauternes dating back to the 1940s – 26 June
As the sap rises, so does a stunning new spring and early summer programme of events from the London Branch of the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS).
Digging deep into historic cellars, the London IWFS branch has plucked out fine Sauternes dating back to the 1940s and superlative red and white Burgundies from the 1950s while keeping a firm footing in the current wine and food scene. In the next few months, the London Branch will taste and test 10 wines from the rebellious Bordeaux Garagiste winemakers, sup at Dinner By Heston and check out tasty fare from legendary Alan Bird at the Bird of Smithfield.
Organising between 30-40 prestigious and exclusive food and wine events each year, the London Branch of the IWFS often includes wine hauled out and dusted down from members’ own cellars.
Jeffrey Benson, wine consultant, wine-maker, author, lecturer and Chairman of the London Branch for the IWFS said: “Joining the IWFS London branch will often expose you to rare and difficult to find fine wines in a friendly a relaxed atmosphere.
“Membership starts at just £40 a year and you will receive access to exclusive tasting events around London; a glossy quarterly publication ‘Food & Wine’ containing news and reports from around Europe and Africa, an annual wine vintage guide incorporated into your credit card size membership card, reduced rates at London clubs and discounts at hotels and restaurants around the world.”
To book any IWFS events, to find out more or to become a member visit iwfs.co.uk or call 0791 802 5523.
Membership starts at £40 for single membership or £52 for joint membership (two people at the same address). Young members aged 18-36 are at half these rates.
Highlights from the spring and early summer programme include:
Garage or garbage? The world of ‘Garagistes’ and ‘Vin de Garage’ 3 April, Doubletree Hilton SW1V 1QA, 6.45 pm
The IWFS has a unique opportunity to try the ‘cult’ wines of the ‘garagistes’ on 3 April. This tasting of ten rare wines has been put together from an IWFS member’s own collection.
The “garagistes” are a group of innovative winemakers in Bordeaux who emerged in the 1990s to rebel against the traditional style of red Bordeaux wine. They developed, instead, styles they felt reflected modern red wine tastes – bigger, bolder and fruitier. Many started out with very tiny plots – as little as one hectare – and work was done by hands and feet in their own garages hence the moniker garagistes and “Vins de Garage.” To begin with, as there were only low outputs, the wines were rare. Then some of them began to attract very high ratings from wine tasters including wine taster extraordinaire Robert Parker. The result: cult status and exorbitantly high prices. However, purists derided the wines saying that the attention was hype. This tasting will be a rare chance to test whether the wines are worth their high prices and fine wine reputations or whether it’s all a load of garbage!
A selection of pâté, charcuterie and cheeses will accompany the tasting. Price per person is £93.00 for prospective-members or £89.00 for members.
Fine and rare white Burgundies, 8 April, Naval Club, W1J 5NS, 7.00 pm
Finola Ryan, wine consultant from Liquid Assets, who has been in the wine industry for 27 years will lead an unusual tasting of vintage White Burgundy and there will be supper afterwards. The eight wines will be:
1997 Batard Montrachet – Louis Jadot
1995 Meursault Charmes – Remoissonet
1986 Meursault – Liger Belair
1985 Puligny Montrachet – Liger Belair
1989 Chablis Grand Cru – Vaudesir
1982 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru – Rene Redauque
1966 Meursault – Thorin Chambert
1955 Pouilly Fuisse – W.H.Chaplin (London bottled)
Price per person for prospective members, £59 and £55 for members.
Dinner by Heston, 1 May, Mandarin Oriental SW1X 7LA, 7.00 pm
With old dishes receiving a modern twist, the IWFS London branch couldn’t ignore the pull of the cooking of Heston Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watt and has booked the private dining room. Wines are included.
Price per person: prospective members £143.00, members £139.00
A tutored tasting of fine red Burgundies from the 1950s, 12 May, Doubletree Hilton Hotel, SW1, 7.00 pm
The IWFS has raided the chairman’s cellar and found a superb range of vinous gems and Jeffrey Benson will lead the tasting.
The decade of the 50’s produced some wonderful wines in the Cote d’Or, particularly in 1959. The tasting will be accompanied by a selection of roast beef, cheese, salad and French bread.
1955 Nuits St Georges – Domaine Leon Rigault
1959 Beaune 1er Cru ‘Greves’ – Domaine Ropiteau Freres
1959 Gevrey Chambertin – Geisweiller
1959 Aloxe Corton – Domaine Thomas Frere
1959 Nuits St Georges – Patriache Pere
1959 Nuits St Georges – Domaine Mugneret
1959 Vosne Romanee 1er Cru ‘les Suchets’ Domaine Jaboulet Vercherre
1959 Chambertin Grand Cru – Galand-londot
Price per person for prospective members £78.00, members £74.00
Dinner with Alan Bird at his new restaurant, 17 June, Bird of Smithfield, EC1A 9LB, 7.00 pm
This special three-course meal with wine and coffee will be in the private dining room of Alan Bird’s own, new restaurant Bird’s of Smithfield and Alan Bird is aiming to join the group for part of the evening.
Alan Bird, somewhat of a chef legend and friend of one of the IWFS’ members, spent 18 years as Head Chef at the Ivy, was Group Executive Chef for the Soho House group and then Executive Chef for the Caprice Holdings and Birley Group where he was responsible for the catering standards at Le Caprice, Annabelle’s Club, Scott’s of Mayfair, Harry’s Bar, J Sheekey’s and many others including, both the Ivy in the UK and in Dubai.
Bird of Smithfield is spread over five floors, set in a Georgian town house and is the realisation of a dream fostered by Alan, Steven Collins and Georgia Muir. Alan tries to bring the British classics into the modern day with an emphasis on freshness and reinterpretation.
A tutored tasting of Sauternes from great vintages, 26 June, Doubletree Hilton Hotel, SW1, 7.00 pm
Noble rot, which affects the Sauternes region, does not flourish in abundance every year, but when it does the resultant wines are incredibly rich and luscious. “Like nothing else on earth,” says Jeffrey Benson, the London Branch chairman, who has selected wines from fine years to demonstrate how superb they can be. “This is a tasting not to be missed. If the sweet wine genre is not usually for you, then you have to taste these, which will be a revelation to your taste buds. You will probably have guessed that I am a great lover of these wines!”
Smooth duck pate, blue cheese, salad and French bread will accompany the tasting.
Price per person for prospective members £79.00 and £75.00 for members.
1990 Chateau Filhot
1989 Chateau de la Chartreuse
1989 Chateau Guiraud
1986 Chateau Rieussec
1985 Chateau les Justices
1983 Chateau Rieussec
1959 Chateau Rieussec
Circa 1940’s Barsac
Price per person: Prospective members £54.00, members £50.00
About the IWFS
With more than 6,000 members, from all walks of life, in over 135 branches and 40 countries throughout the world, the International Wine and Food Society is the world’s oldest and most renowned gastronomic society. André L. Simon CBE, Legion d’Honneur, who was a dedicated and knowledgeable gourmet and a superb connoisseur of fine wines, founded it in 1933. Its key purpose is the promotion of a greater understanding and pleasure in good food, good wine and good company.
For further information contact: Frances Tuke, tel. 020 7274 9442/07415 136001 firstname.lastname@example.org.