As it’s New Year, I’m reminiscing about some of 1918’s IWFS London events. The first I attended was a tasting of excellent Fine and Mature Châteauneufs du Pape, ranging from 1999 to 1952, and finally, a Reserve Jacksons of Piccadilly from 1929, an extremely hot year in France; a dark brown rim to the deep coloured wine, and a distinctive, wonderful Rhône nose, with very slight oxidation.
Amongst several fine wine tastings from France was a Château Léoville-Barton vertical, mainly from the 1990s, also 1986 and 1949; consistently well made, good fruit, good balance, one or two early maturing. We tried the 1949 first. The 1940s were a phenomenal decade for great French vintages, with hot summers. There was a lot of powdery sediment, and the wine was decanted. This wine had stood the test of time well for its age, still quite fruity.
At another claret tasting, we had the pleasure of trying the 1990 Ch. Montrose (St. Estèphe) which Robert Parker awarded 100 points.
We are more adventurous than might be expected from these and other tastings of classic French wines. We extended our experience of Georgian, Portuguese and Turkish wines, and a Peruvian dinner was held with matching wines. We’ve directly contrasted English wines with French – each pair of a similar style served blind, for us to see whether we could guess which was which – and the answers were not at all predictable.
In the last four months, we have tasted and compared fine wines from various regions in Spain, Italy and France. Our special IWFS 85th anniversary dinner, Alsace-themed as was the original, with well-matching high quality Alsace wines, was held in the Grade II listed Innholders’ Livery Hall whose chef, Herbert Berger, is past winner of three Michelin stars.
At a very good dinner prepared by the chef at the Cavalry and Guards Club, another elegant traditional venue – English style cooking with a hint of French influence – the accompanying wines were from a member’s personal collection of 1988 clarets, together with a champagne reception to start and D’Oliveiras Golden Malmsey 1930’s Madeira to finish.
This was the year of the IWFS London International Festival, so members also had the opportunity to join in events at several prestigious venues with exceptional cuisine and wines.
Places are still available for a couple of events at the end of the first quarter in March:
- a two-hour daytime Masterclass on Sous Vide cookery, on 19 February at The Tool Shed @ W2 – a technique I’m not familiar with and hope to enjoy learning more about and evaluating;
- English dining on 26th March at atmospheric 18th-century City of London inn George & Vulture – Charles Dickens’ watering hole, referred to in The Pickwick Papers.
Here’s to joyous imbibing throughout 2019!