- by Steven Spurrier
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Vintners' Company celebrate 650th Anniversary
Inside the banqueting hall... credit: Darren Woolway (Raid Photographic)
Over one hundred and thirty guests filled the baronial hall of the Vintners’ Company last night to celebrate the award in 1363 of the Royal Charter that made the Vintners one of the London’s oldest Livery Companies.
With its close links to the City of London and its origins in the import, regulation and sale of wine, the Vintners’ Company continues to maintain strong links to every part of the trade and rightly considers itself 'the spiritual home of the wine trade.'
The guests were from the four corners of the globe: New Zealand was represented by John Buck CNZM OBE (Te Mata) and Michael Brajkovitch MW (Kumeu River), Chile by Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle, California by Jean-Michel Valette MW, the Lebanon by Serge Hochar and The Cape by Anthony Hamilton Russell, while Europe was out in force: Adrian Bridge (the Fladgate Group) and Paul Symington from the Douro, Pablo Alvarez (Vega Sicilia) and Peter Sisseck from Ribera del Duero, Egon Muller from the Mosel, and France had every region present, stressing the continuation of 'L’Entente Cordiale'.
The current Master, Michael Cox, was in the Chair, supported by no fewer than six Past Masters.
The food – Cured Loch Duart Salmon, Fillet of Longhorn Beef, Quails Egg Benedict and Eton Mess – supported the wines, which were superb. Champagne Louis Roederer 2000 was beautifully creamy and elegant, just perfectly matured and drew admiration from Richard Geoffroy the master of Dom Perignon; Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres 2006 Vincent Girardin showed lemony flavours and earthy richness with the freshness and energy of the 2006s; two 1996 clarets followed – Cos d’Estournel and Pichon-Longueville Baron de Longueville – both quite open but with a decade or more in front of them, a slight preference by my neighbours for the latter; Ch. Suduiraut 1997 was honeyed, rich and lively and Fonseca 1970, garnet ruby and still rich, provided the perfect glass for the Loyal Toast.
Jancis Robinson OBE MW gave the first speech stating that what she loved most about wine was “the people, they are a lot of quirky oddballs and many are here together tonight.”
Michael Cox closed the evening by declaring, on behalf of all of us, his love for “the fruits of the vine and the friendship it brings.”
The Worshipful Company of Vintners felt 650 years young.
See a selection of pictures from the night here.