A Photographic Record of My Year in Wine – 2017 – Part Four: October to December

So with my final instalment of my year in wine in photographs, I’d like to thank all my friends for helping to make 2017 such a rich and exciting year full of treasured experiences. Long may they continue in 2018!!

Happy New Year!

Pieter Ferreira from Graham Beck was back over in the UK to host an incredibly interesting and enjoyable food and wine matching lunch. Plenty of their premium Cuvee Clive was poured. We were joined by Gary and Cathy Jordan who are also in the process of planting and planning their own English sparkling wine.

One of the most enjoyable tastings of the year involved the highly talented Reenen Borman giving a sell out crowd an excellent masterclass on all the wines and projects he is involved with. We were joined by his successful and dynamic UK importer Preet from Edgmond Wines, who represent some top young stars.

Hot on the heels of the Reenen Borman tasting was the highly anticipated Eben Sadie Masterclass showing a packed room multiple back vintages of both Columella and Palladius. We all know Eben is not big on travelling overseas too often so it becomes all the more special when he does visit us in London. Needless to say, the tasting attracted big guns like Steven Spurrier.

Then finally, it was time to welcome all the South Africans back to London again for the SA New Wave Tasting including Ryan Mostert, Chris Alheit, Craig Wessels, Duncan Savage and Donovan Rall.

The slightly shy, soft spoken Callie Louw who makes the incredible wines of Porseleinberg in the Swartland was certainly one of the big draw cards at the New Wave Tasting. The greatness of these wines will only truly be appreciated in 20 years time.

I was so pleased Chris Williams won the Platter Guide SA White Wine of the Year 2017 with his delicious Foundry Grenache Blanc. Such a talented winemaker crafting his magic equally with whites and reds. I love all his wines.

The following evening after the SA New Wave Tasting, Handford Wines took the opportunity to host its South Africa Icon Tasting at the SA High Commission with the support of WOSA UK. Lovely having several winemakers in attendance including Adam Mason, Carl van der Merwe and of course Schalk Burger Snr… though James Handford MW might beg to differ!

Yet another lovely fine wine lunch punctuated the year this time with Neal Martin and my ex-colleague Mick O’Connell MW who flew in from Dublin specially.

One of the biggest success stories of the year has been the resurgence of Greek wines in the UK and especially the wines of Santorini. There are none better than Yiannis Valambous and his incredible Assyrtiko expressions from Vassaltis Winery!

October also saw one the most fantastic fine wine lunches at Michelin Starred Chez Bruce to toast the departure of Keith Prothero back to the Cape! Great having Neal Martin join once again and owner Bruce Poole on hand to curate a fantastic lunch menu!

Not all Saffers visiting London make South African wine! Manfred Ing is making some wonderful expressions in Chianti Classico at Querciabella and on the island of Giglio.

With Xito Olazabal passing through London for the New Douro Tasting, we were very fortunate enough to grab him to present a sell out Quinta do Vale Meao Douro Masterclass for private clients followed by a lovely dinner. Had to introduce Xito to Eben’s amazing Old Vine Series Treinspoor Tinta Barroca red.

Next up, a wonderful evening at Vintners’ Hall in November to celebrate the graduation of the new Masters of Wine including the Noble Rotter, Mark Andrews. A big congrats.

Of course, always lovely to catch up with South African MW No.3 and Chair of the Education Committee, Cathy van Zyl MW.

November saw two more significant wine trade events, the first being the superb Wines of California Napa Valley Vintners Tasting. Always fun tasting with talent like Mike Turner and the legend Oz Clarke.

The other big gathering was the International Wine and Spirits Competition Awards ceremony which saw Joe Fattorini honoured as best communicator of the year and Abrie Beeslaar and Kanonkop winning Winery of the Year and Winemaker of the Year! What an coup for SA!

With December near, there was still time to host legendary SA Winemaker Jeremy Walker for a top tasting in London.

Many fine oyster lunches were enjoyed with my good friend Anthony Crameri from St Emilion. He is officially one of the founding members of the #handfordoysterclub

But there was still time to inaugurate Car Boot Ruth Spivey into the #handfordoysterclub. She seemed suitably impressed with the honour!

Here’s hoping that in 2018 I will be able to lure Mr Zalto UK Daniel Primack to South Kensington so that he can be inaugurated into the #handfordoysterclub!

End of November also saw a rarified gathering of global wine talent to celebrate the 50th birthday of Jamie Goode at the Winemakers Club wine bar in London. Thank you to all the Winemakers who flew in for the party… Rajat Parr, Dirk Niepoort, Duncan Savage, Mick Craven, Brian and Marion Smith, Norm Hardie just to mention a few. What an epic night of fine wine.

Finally, a last throw of the dice celebrating Andrew Johnson’s birthday at the best restaurant in London and possibly the UK… the Ledbury. Farewell to Sam Lucas who has worked at the Ledbury for longer than I can remember and who takes up a top job in New York at Per Se Restaurant. You will be missed.

Oh, and thank you to Ledbury regular and Richmond neighbour Gareth Birchley for the photo! You scraped in Gazza! 😂🍷

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