Spring 2014 Newsletter

In Event Reports by ashepherdiwfs

It’s all Greek, Sparkles and Garage for Spring 2014 with the London Branch of the International Wine and Food Society

·         Jeffrey Benson looks back at the ‘Ultimate Tasting’ of a 1795 Madeira
·         Fine and mature Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese
·         Exclusive evening at 10 Greek Street Restaurant with owner Luke Wilson
·         Celebrate local with English sparkling wines
·         Garage or Garbage: You decide at a rare tasting of Bordeaux Garagiste wine
·         Rhubarb, Rhubarb. Members to enjoy the forced Rhubarb in Yorkshire

The London Branch of the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS) organises between 30-40 prestigious and exclusive food and wine events each year to increase knowledge and appreciation of the arts of the table. The spring 2014 newsletter provides some highlights of the quarter.

Jeffrey Benson, wine consultant, wine-maker, author, lecturer and Chairman of the London Branch for the IWFS said: “With London arguably the food capital of the world, our branch of the IWFS is amazingly placed to help members not only enjoy good food, good wine and good company but to share the belief that an understanding of good food and wine is an essential part of personal contentment and health. We are extremely fortunate to be able to organise an outstanding events programme which include meals at top restaurants where members discuss the technical know-how of chefs, cookery demonstrations; trips to food and wine destinations and wine tastings of fine, rare and old wines – as well as a bit of instruction thrown in too!”

“The highlight for me from last year’s programme was our ‘Ultimate Tasting’ event, which included a pre-phylloxera Terrantez Madeira from 1795 – a remarkable wine which tasted amazingly youthful and was superbly balanced with sweetness and acidity, with lovely burnt roasted characteristics. On that evening we tried nine wines, including one of the finest sweet wines I have ever tasted – a 1943 Chateau Caillou, Tete de Cuvee, 2eme Barsac, which had a stunning nose of intricate layers of honey and marmalade, but which also displayed multi-dimensional flavours. It was a truly extraordinary wine at a truly extraordinary event.”

“I am very much looking forward to sharing the taste sensations of 2014 with IWFS members both old and new. This week we are tasting fine and mature Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese from Austria and Germany. This eclectic collection of wines from Germany and Austria dating back from 1966 demonstrate the wide complexity of wines from these two countries. Only in certain years of extra long hot summers can the lusciously rich Beerenauslese and the even richer Trockenbeerenauslese be produced. It is an indication of the uniqueness of IWFS London Branch that we can taste such treats. I hope you can join us soon.

10 Greek Street, 25 & 26 February, 7.00 pm, London W1D 4DH

Former wine executive of Liberty Wine and co-owner of award-winning restaurant 10 Greek Street, Luke Wilson will host the IWFS in the restaurant’s private dining room and create a special menu to match the rare wines in Magnum chosen by Jeffrey Benson, Chairman of the IWFS London branch. Prices for dinner including wines are £84 for prospective-members and £80 for members.

English Sparkling Wines 11 March 2014, Naval Club, London, W1J 5NS.                                                                       

As we all want to ‘buy local’ these days, the meteoric rise of English sparkling wines could not be timelier. Meeting at the Naval Club in central London at 7.00 pm on 11 March, this event will exhibit ten fabulous English sparkling wines ranging from well-established vineyards such as Nyetimber, Camel Valley and Ridgeview to the newer ones of Furleigh Estate in Dorset and Hattingley Valley. English sparkling wines are now frequently beating equivalently priced Champagnes in blind tastings and winning gold medals in international competitions. This will be a great opportunity to discover your favourites. After the tasting, a light supper will be served. The cost for the evening – which is all inclusive of food and wines – is £46 for prospective-members and £42 for members.

Guess to Impress: How to Taste Wine, 20 March 2014, Doubletree, Hilton, London SW1V 1QA

Build your wine-tasting confidence with Chairman of the IWFS’ London Branch, Jeffrey Benson, who has spent the last 40+ years in the wine trade as a buyer, wine maker and lecturer. This very popular evening event is aimed at all levels for anyone wanting to improve their wine knowledge and blind tasting ability, so you can take on sommeliers at their own game! Jeffrey will guide attendees through the colour, nose, and palate of four reds and four whites and help with the techniques of identifying the country of origin, grape variety and quality assessment in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Jeffrey will also take some time to run through wine and food pairings. Price per person including cheese to accompany the wines is £36.00 for prospective-members or £32.00 for members.

Garage or Garbage? The World of ‘Garagistes’ and ‘Vin de Garage’ 3 April, Doubletree Hilton SW1V 1QA

The IWFS has a unique opportunity to try the ‘cult’ wines of the ‘garagistes’ on 3 April. Selected from an IWFS member’s own collection, this tasting of ten rare wines has been put together, the like of which has never been offered to the IWFS London Branch before – and is unlikely to happen again!

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.

To book any of these events, to find out more or to become a member visit www.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.

IWFS visit Forced Rhubarb in Yorkshire, 18-21 February

The Europe and Africa Committee of the IWFS has organised a luxury foodie break in Yorkshire to coincide with the Wakefield Rhubarb Festival.

‘Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb’ is internationally renowned, and ranked alongside Champagne and Parma Ham as one of Europe’s Protected Foods.  IWFS Members, including members from London will stay at the luxurious Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate, recently voted the best hotel in the UK and will enjoy a private tour of Oldroyd’s forced rhubarb sheds (one of Rick Stein’s Food Hero food producers), for a private tour. Janet Oldroyd-Hulme, the High Priestess of Rhubarb, will trace rhubarb’s fascinating history from 2700 BC through to the present day. Guests will then enter the Secret World of the Rhubarb Triangle, view a crop growing in the dark sheds, and discuss present day growing techniques. 

Other highlights will be a visit to Betty’s world-renowned tea-shop, a tour of the renowned Shepherd’s Purse Creamery near Thirsk, followed by a tutored cheese and Ampleforth cider and liqueur tasting, a tour of Ampleforth to learn about beer and ciders brewed in the monastic tradition, and a dinner at the Star Inn for dinner (ranked among the best restaurants in the North of England). Chef Andrew Pern will prepare a special menu for IWFS, featuring seasonal local produce, accompanied by a tasting of matched wines. For further details see iwfs.org or email johnsnicholas@aol.com.

5 February 2014