Tag Archives: wine tasting

On Blindness and Beauty

Part of our service is wine tasting and we often combine the finest wine with art and music to make the occasion very special, something to remember.
We were very happy to be a part of a philanthropic evening with Sightsavers and Prosperoworld at one of the world’s finest jewellers, Boucheron.

 
Sightsavers is a charity working carefully and efficiently to eradicate blindness in over thirty countries, in some of the poorest parts of the world. It is one of the oldest UK charities and Her Majesty the Queen serves as a patron. The purpose of the evening was to raise awareness and funds among philanthropists. The guests experienced how life would be without sight, on the theme of “Blindness and Beauty.”

 

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With special goggles which make your vision totally blurred, the guests tried on some of the most exquisite jewellery and guessed its animal motif. Each ring came in the shape of an animal, for instance a tiger ring with a pink sapphire and diamonds.

 

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When it comes to wine, its colour can be misjudged when tasted blind. This is even the case for wine professionals as science tells us that sight is an important part of tasting. With Aymeric de Clouet, the guests blind-tasted Hermitage 1993 (blanc) vs Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2012 (rouge) to guess the colour of the wine. As you can see below, the result was often, Wow!

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A video presentation was made by Dr Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers. It was fascinating to learn that 80% of blindness could be prevented or cured, and a sight-saving operation for an adult only costs £30. At that price, surely we can help.

 

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The presentation was followed by a wine reception. The wine served that evening was Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc and Rouge from an award-winning producer, Domaine de la Confrérie.

 

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Here are Sita and Anna-Louisa from Prosperoworld, which conducts in-depth research to identify outstanding charitable projects to support. Their mission is to convene thought leaders, social innovators and philanthropists, to inspire debate and leverage funding for tangible solutions to poverty and inequality.

 

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Lastly, thank you very much to Boucheron for your generosity. It was a beautiful evening.

 
All photographs by Elijah Villanueva

 

Decanting old wines

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I recently lost my nerve on a social media following a post regarding decanting and old wines, and I sure should not have. The post was published by a sommelier who considered that 1990 was an old vintage, proving that he did not even know what he was talking about !

I only got upset because I feel in pain for all those wines, all those producers who work hard, all those merchants who select and keep the wines with care, to find them slaughtered by an ignorant consumer after 30 years of cellaring! Yes, an old wine needs decanting, even more so than a young wine.

The reason may be difficult to explain, but the experience is easy to have: open two bottles, decant one two hours in advance, the other just when dinner begins. I mean any Bordeaux, except 1978 (please do not ask why: 100% of 78s that I drank were worn out after 15 minutes, not even decanted). Any wine ! 1928, 1945, 1990… Any area: Médoc, Saint-Emilion, Pessac and of course Sauternes… Sometimes, even poor vintages like 1973 can better in a decanter (they cannot get worse anyway).

I unfortunately cannot count anymore the number of old wines that I opened, but it is well over 3,000… The number of wines that I regretted to have opened too early is exactly four, all of them 1978, and I can recall each one : Duhart-Milon, Haut-Batailley, La Lagune, Pichon-Comtesse. Very good wines, but not over 15 minutes after opening.

I am not here to solve the 78 mystery but I want to try and prevent the old wines’ massacre with this message: do not listen to Cassandras and try for yourselves. The rule is to put a bottle standing at least four hours before decanting (best the day before), and to open it two hours before dinner time. Decant immediately, which you can do with a candle or an electric light, it is not as traditional but virtually the same.

If the cork is hard to extract, and you could not do it without a lot of crumbs in the wine, ideally filter with silk. Unfortunately, silk filters are not produced any longer, I guess I have two of the few remaining in the world. A paper coffee filter will do, but it is so unfortunate to let so much wine be absorbed! Then you can either but a glass stopper to the decanter or not, it is not essential, as long as the wine surface in contact with air is wide enough. Serve after two hours: the wine is clean, the nose is fresh, the mouth is well balanced… Nothing you can get from a freshly open bottled.

We always recommend decanting any wine, in particular old wines, to get the most of them. You might be surprised at how the taste and flavour could marvellously change if properly decanted.

Lastly here comes a short video showing how to decant old wines. You might be surprised at how simply it can be done. What you need is just a decanter, a flat candle, and… a bottle of wine! To watch the video, please click here. Hope you enjoy!

 

 

London Kimono Fashion Show

One of our services is to create and organise wine-related events for corporates. Sometimes we work with non-profit organisations and charities whose good causes we are proud to support.

Recently Fair Wines participated in the London Kimono Fashion Show which took place at Burgh House in Hampstead. The show was part of a project led by a NGO to promote Japanese Kimonos to be recognised as a World Heritage at the UNESCO.

Before the fashion show itself, the event included a talk about the tradition of Kimono and an actual demonstration of how to put the Obi on (i.e. the sash). Violin play and opera singing added grace to this special Sunday afternoon amongst flowers and champagne. The entire event was filled with the Omotenashi spirit.

Omotenashi defines the spirit of Japanese hospitality, though the meaning goes way deeper than providing hospitality. “Omotenashi” means “to entertain a guest wholeheartedly” as every encounter is single and unique.

It was a truly magical moment surrounded by the beauty and tradition of the Kimono world. Let us share some pictures of the day.

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All set in the beautiful location of Burgh House in Hampstead.

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More than 100 glasses were prepared for the champagne reception which followed the Kimono fashion show.

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Welcome speech from graceful Chieri Ikea, the organiser of the show.

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Soprano solo Masami Suzuki and Violin solo Haru Ushigusa were a real treat to listen to.

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The audience was fascinated by the quotation of a famous Japanese poet, in essence saying that if you look beautiful from the back, you will look beautiful from the front… Until told the quotation was actually made up. Obi joke!

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Let the London Kimono Fashion Show begin! Here is Miss Kimono on a cat walk. A good kimono is made out of silk and is hand-printed and/or dyed. It is a true art of craftsmanship, and is often passed on from generation to generation as a family asset.

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A Kimono with long sleeves is meant for young and unmarried ladies so that they could warm and embrace many potential suitors! In fact there are countless Kimono dress codes specific to ladies.

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At the Champagne & Sushi reception which followed by the fashion show, here is the team from Wasokan, the first Kimono shop in London (located in Notting Hill). A well-deserved celebration after such a large contribution.

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Little helpers were busy offering Japanese cookies to the guests. Thank you my darlings!

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Guests and all the Kimono models. You might spot me amongst the Kimono models. Thank you everyone for such an unforgettable day!

It would be great if you could share this and help the Kimono world receiving greater recognition!

 

Aymeric’s Rating Standard

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Aymeric de Clouet ’s  Rating 

 I have been tasting wine for 27 years now and I learned from my father who has been tasting wines “en primeurs” since 1959, and who was educated by my grandfather, who himself started tasting wines since the end of World War I!

From that accumulated experience, I do not believe wine tasting is an absolute science which can be approached with certainties. Every tasting is relative and depends on your knowledge, your years of practice, and the circumstances around the tasting. Yes, it is easier to deal with certainties in life! But when it comes to wine tasting, I can only give my opinion about the quality of a wine, not its taste itself, which is personal and individual opinion.

By the same token, I do not describe the taste of wines in this ridicule new fashion. A wine does not taste like tar, metal, yellow flowers in a summer morning, etc. A wine sometimes tastes like wood, when the amount of new wood is too high, or the barrels too toasted. And it may be tannic, acidic, etc. End of the story.

In conclusion, if you want your opinion to be dictated by someone else, I am not the right person. If you want to learn from my experience, my numerous tasting results, I am glad to share.

My system rating is the simplest, ranking from 0 to 5 stars:

*****: great wine, with depth, complexity, ageing potential, among the best of all times. Needless to say, I do not grant those 5 stars every year and hardly more than one or two wines within the same year.

****: excellent wine, worthy of the best cellars, a must buy and must try.

***: very good wine, with less complexity maybe, less depth, length, etc. But very good indeed. Generally the category with the best price-quality ratios.

**: good wine, no more. No flaws, but not quintessential for your cellar. A wine you can drink at a restaurant or under “extreme” circumstances (picnic, travel, etc.)

*: average or mediocre wine. Some flaws (residual sugar, excessive tannins, lack of acidity, etc.)

0: atrocious wine, shame of the terroir. Extremely oxidative whites, awfully tannic reds with high levels of residual sugar, wines that you would hardly serve to your sink!