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What is your most memorable wine experience?

I was unfortunate enough to be born in a vintage that produced very little of note from the classic regions of Europe. California, however, was a winner. Many years ago a good client of mine gave me the very last bottle of 1974 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet from her late husband’s cellar (possibly the greatest cellar I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting, selling and tasting from) – an extremely generous and thoughtful gift that I will never forget. I kept the bottle for years, concerned that it was on its downward slope but unsure when would be the most appropriate time to open it. A few years ago, she invited me to dinner, presenting me with the perfect opportunity to pull the cork. The moment was not lost on her and the bottle was spectacular. It was so youthful, vibrant, multi-dimensional, with a humming energy coursing through it. Powerfully restrained with a toned-down yet noticeable minty ripeness which set it apart from similarly aged Bordeaux. A beautiful wine and moment that will live with me forever.

If you could choose any wine from the CV Top 100, what would it be and why?

1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional. I managed to catch the end of a bottle at a pretty raucous wine dinner many years ago but our paths have sadly not crossed since. It was so concentrated yet effortlessly elegant and has many, many years ahead of it.

You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite anyone, dead or alive. Who do you invite and what would be your signature food and wine pairing?

I’m pretty relaxed about food and wine matching – I’m of the opinion that good food, good wine and good company is all good! I’d keep it simple with a slow cooked shoulder of lamb, a load of seasonal greens and roast potatoes. We’d drink 2002 Bolly whilst it’s cooking and wash it down with a couple of magnums of 1978 Monfortino from Conterno – finished off with Tarte tatin and a few bottles of Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia (any vintage will do) plus a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The guests … George Michael. I never liked him when I was a teenager but grew to love him when he started being naughty. Chris Morris, creator of Brass Eye (if we ever needed him, now is the time.) The Dalai Lama (I’ve got plenty of questions and it would mean more wine for the rest of us!) And my mum; she would have loved to have met George!


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