JAMES MEAD

SALES DIRECTOR

What is your most memorable wine experience?

It’s a cliche but there have just been so many that’s it’s near on impossible to choose just one, but it’s true to say that the very best have three things in common; people, place and food. It would be easy to throw in the names of some of the world’s greatest estates, and I am lucky enough to have had incredibly benevolent friends and clients who have opened many magnificent bottles. The one occasion which does spring to mind, though, was on a summer holiday to France with family. We stopped off to visiting our wonderful great aunt on the way down to the South, and she produced some halves of an unlabelled white Burgundy to accompany lunch. It was clear from the very first sniff that this wasn’t just any old Burgundy. Layers upon layers of candied fruits and subtle brioche character soared from the glass, changing and developing as the wine warmed slightly in the glass. I attempted to enquire as to what the wine was or where it had been acquired from but these were brushed off with typical French candour. It was a lesson in learning when to spot a special moment and to remember to be present.

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

Above all, I value elegance, complexity, length and balance in the wines that I seek out. I love discovering new producers from rising regions, but often end up revisiting areas for which, in the top estates, these characters are synonymous. Burgundy, Northern Rhône and Piedmont are areas which I adore but, given the chance to find a true unicorn, the wine I would choose would be 1928 Salon – one of the all-time greats and the vintage which put this iconic property on the vinous map. Until a few years ago this was very much an insider’s wine but is now a property which every truly great cellar should include.

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?

Easy! I would invite my father, who departed this planet a number of years ago, and was pivotal in instilling in me a love of great food and wine. Joining us would be my wife and two boys, who never got the chance to meet him. On the menu would be a roasted rib of beef, Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings (a favourite of both of ours) along with a magnum of 1961 Palmer, which was a vintage that he always spoke of as his ultimate desert island wine.

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