Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The story of another eventful week - various tastings, VAT, annual accounts and other stuff

Things have calmed down a bit now (which is why I have actually found time to write this) but last week was just about as hectic a week I've had in a long time. Monday began with a full shift at the day job, followed by a quick dash down the A1 to deliver some wines, then across to the M1 to deliver yet more wines, then on to Stanmore tube station to park-up for a trip into central London. A few days prior, I'd received an invitation from Sud de France to attend a rather lavish dinner at The Connaught, to celebrate the Sud de France Wine Festival. It is not that often that I'm invited to partake of a free 5-course meal in a posh restaurant - with plenty of good wines to boot - and the opportunity to meet a few growers, wine business counterparts and esteemed journalists was too good an opportunity to miss. Luminaries from the media included Julia Harding MW, Tim Atkin MW and Oz Clarke. I'd never met Oz before, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself and, at the same time, extract an email address from him(!) He's a nice fellow, and I just may take the opportunity to ontact him, with a view to sending him some of my wines to taste. Overall, it turned out to be a most enjoyable evening, with some fine food and wines and excellent company. 

Amongst some very good wines, there were a couple of real highlights; Domaine de Mingraut Passionément 2007 IGP Hauterive showed delightful aromas of crystallised fruits, blackcurrant leaf and elderflower and was velvety soft but with lovely structure - a gorgeous wine, which as far as I can ascertain is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, aged for a year in oak. I'm not sure why it isn't labelled as Corbieres (for that is where this estate is situated) but when the wine is this good, who cares? And then there was Domaine de Traginer Cuvée Foudre 2007 Collioure, which displayed all manner of herbs, exotic spices, citrus, incense and polished wood, not to mention some really lovely, concentrated fruit aromas. It is so complex and beguiling, yet so delicate and elegant, it is almost ethereal. Clearly the result of wonderful terroir and masterly winemaking. A quite brilliant wine.

The downside to all of this, of course, was that I got home at 3 o'clock on Tuesday morning and had to be back at the day-job a few hours later. Another full shift on Tuesday was followed by a quick dash home to get ready to go out again, for our monthly gathering at Le Mistral in Nottingham, to enjoy more wines and good, hearty bistro food. Amongst a very decent, if unspectacular array of wines there was one absolute gem of a wine, in the form of La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001. I must admit that I didn't write a specific tasting note (I've come to realise that on such occasions, it can spoil the overall enjoyment of the evening) but I do remember that it managed to be at the same time both immensely concentrated and surprisingly elegant, with ripe red and black fruits, exotic spices, restrained use of oak and all manner of secondary aromas and flavours. In fact, a wine to please both modernist and traditionalist (and I am very much the latter, where Rioja is concerned). It really is a fabulous wine, and one which - being made in relatively large quantities - is currently quite widely available; for example, £19 at The Wine Society or £17.50 at Majestic Wine Warehouses. Frankly, even at the higher price, it is an absolute steal.

Wednesday is usually what I call my "day off", but I actually had not one but two wine tastings. The first was in the afternoon, when I presented a selection of my wines to a group of - shall we say - more "mature" wine enthusiasts in the nearby village of Keyworth. The wines were extremely well-received and I think everyone went home happy. Then it was a quick dash home to box-up and despatch a couple of orders, before going out yet again, for a Rioja Gran Reserva tasting at Nottingham Wine Circle. In many ways, this was a rather disappointing tasting, in that there were so many wines made in the modern style (even from one or two growers previously known for producing wines in a more traditional style). Admittedly, there were a few rather decent wines, but none that really came close to the Vina Ardanza I refer to above. I will publish my notes from this tasting within the next few days.

Anyway, no less than 4 full-blown tasting events in 3 days is at least one too many in my book, and is not something I'd care to do too often. Under normal circumstances, Thursday would have provided a little respite, but not this time, for I also had the small matter of the quarterly VAT return and the annual Company accounts to complete. The VAT return doesn't normally prove too much of a problem, but this one did, for reasons (none of which are of a "sensitive" nature) that I won't bore you with. The Company accounts, on the other hand, always prove to be stressful for TLD and I, mainly due to the inadequacies of our bookkeeping software and the fact that we are completely at the mercy of our Accountant - and he does love to put us through the mill. ;-) It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it and in the end, we (or he) got there and the accounts were signed and delivered to Companies House on the very last day of September. Given that we could have began dealing with them anytime from January onwards, we really must get out of this silly habit of leaving things until the last minute - it would save us an awful lot of stress!

During all of these hectic goings-on, I did manage to find time to go out for a few rides on my Honda CBR600rr - which I have decided I will call "The Beast" - and to listen to the new CD by my favourite band, Wilco, entitled "The Whole Love". To my mind, this band can do no wrong, and if you haven't heard of them before, I suggest you check them out as soon as possible! And if you'd like to see just how good they are on stage, you can watch a fantastic 60 minute set by them, as part of a special season of gigs for the David Letterman Show on CBS. Check it - you won't regret it!

There will be plenty more posts on the way, now things have settled down just a little.

1 comment:

Vinogirl said...

The Connaught thingy sounds like a good gig.