I think it’s fair to say that we are still reeling from the success of our 1st Wine Tasting Dinner, held at the fabulous “La Forge” restaurant in Antibes last Wednesday the 22nd April!
The day started pretty well too, with a meeting with the CEO and Winemaker of our chosen FWW Champagne, Vilmart & Cie. Laurent Champ happened to be holidaying nearby in Juan les Pins, so it was a chance to meet and explore how our businesses could work together. Once we’d explained in more detail about our Wine Tasting Events, the Wine Training for Yacht Crew and our small (but perfectly formed) Wine List we have now launched for clients here on the Côte d’Azur, he realised that we could be the gateway into the market on the Riviera that he doesn’t yet have. Vilmart export more than they sell in France, hence their cult following in the UK and USA (see previous BLOG for more details about this gorgeous fizz!)
So, the Dinner itself! We’d “sold” the idea of a fun wine tasting dinner to a selection of people, some through business contacts, some because they were involved in various Clubs & Associations here on the Riviera and some because we believed they just loved and adored wine. We quickly filled the places available, and alas, even had to turn a couple of folk away a few days before. The event was all
pre-booked and pre-paid and the room upstairs at La Forge being quite intimate we had no choice but to close reservations a couple of days before the event.The idea was to launch our new Wine List by tasting through a selection of the new International wines and also to showcase some of the Wine Games & Challenges and general Wine Entertainment that we can offer to groups and corporate & private clients. So we kicked off the evening with glasses of Vilmart Grande Réserve Champagne and once the guests were assembled, I took the opportunity to explain a little of the mystery and magic of Vilmart and what makes it so unusual. After a more general welcome from Nigel,
the guests were seated and the first White wine was served – “blind”! The idea was to challenge the guests to a sort of “Call My Bluff” game (we call it “Call My Quaff!) and to have us, the experts, describe 3 x different possible white wines that they could have in their glass and to leave them sniffing and swirling before deciding which of the experts “description” was correct and which were bluffs! Thus our Los Arbolitos Sauvignon Blanc from Chile was introduced – with only about a 1/3 of the room guessing correctly but unanimously enjoying the grassy yet tropical Sauvignon! Out came the Moules Farcies – juicy and garlicky and perfect with the crisp, clean fruit flavours of the Chilean white.
The next challenge was a “Guess the Grape” – I gave a brief “Idiots Guide Wine Tasting” and the main classic Grape Varieties and what to look for in terms of smell & taste, accompanied by a handout and then Didier, our charming and unbelievably cool and efficient waiter for the night, poured not just one, but two glasses of different Red wines for the guests to guess. A stonkingly good value 2nd wine Bordeaux (l’Oratoire de Chasse Spleen 2004 – so mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) and a smoothly seductive Rioja (Bodega Muriel Rioja Reserva 2001 – so Tempranillo the grape here) foxed all but a few of the assembled but all agreed that the magnificent Lamb dish that accompanied it was delicious. I think on a show of hands afterwards the Rioja just nudged it as the best match! Dessert was a royally rich Crème Brûlée – I’d also asked for some Roquefort cheese to be brought out as well so I could explain how our marvellous little “sweetie”, the Sauternes “look alike”, Ste Croix du Mont, works SOO well with salty blue cheese yet also complements a creamy dessert. Having explained the marvels of “noble rot” to make sweet wines, the guests tucked in. We then had a fast and frenzied round of “Vin Triv” – our Wine Trivia Quiz which brought out everyone’s competitive natures and got, well frankly, quite heated! After a “sudden death” tie-breaker, we had a winner and yes, Maurice Hardaker, our champion for the evening across all the challenges, was duly presented with a bottle of Vilmart Champagne.
What a night! The noise level in the room as people chatted, networked and socialised; the corresponding hush of intense concentration as wines were nosed, swirled, sipped and explored; and the admittedly rather gratifying applause and thanks at the end of the evening gives me a sneaking suspicion that it was rather a success!
Helen Brotherton