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Benedict XVI, Decanter.com, Robinson: first to taste new Suckling wine

James Suckling’s new wine will be the only wine served at the farewell dinner for Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham on Sunday.

Suckling – formerly Wine Spectator magazine’s European bureau chief – has made two extraordinary cuvees blending grapes from California, Mexico, Hungary, Slovenia, Roussillon and Italy.

And in something of a publicity coup, the wines will be served at a dinner for the Pope and the Catholic bishops of England, Scotland and Wales, at St Mary’s College Oscott in Birmingham, to celebrate the end of the first-ever state visit of a pontiff to the United Kingdom.

After Decanter.com and Jancis Robinson MW, both of whom tasted the wine today, Pope Benedict will be the first person to see the wine.

Called One Wine One World, Suckling created it on a whim. ‘I wanted to blend Californian and Mexican wine,’ he told Decanter.com, ‘and then I thought, Why not make it a political statement – why not make a global wine?’

The red is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault from Roussillon, Zinfandel, Grenache and Petite Sirah from Mexico, and Cabernet Franc from Wente Vineyards in California.

The white contains Ribolla Gialla from Slovenia, Friulano and Pinot Grigio from Italy, and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Hungary.

Suckling made the wines – there are 500 cases of the red and 200 of the white – with the help of Mexican winemaker Hugo d’Acosta, who has a property in Roussillon, as well as connections with Wente.

The papal connection, Suckling said, came about as he searched for a charity to donate the wine to, and hit upon the Maimonides Foundation, a London-based multi-faith organisation committed to creating ‘cordial relations’ between the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Maimonides is run by billionaire art collector and property developer Nasser D Khalili, who has been knighted by both the previous and current Popes ‘for his pursuit of peace and culture among nations’, and was consulted on various aspects of the Papal visit.

He recommended the wine for the dinner as ‘a symbolic gesture, a statement of harmony and unity between faiths,’ Khalili told Decanter.com.

  • James Suckling will launch his new website, jamessuckling.com, in October. The site will consist of ‘90% videos’ of key wine figures around the world, which Suckling has spent the last few months filming along with movie producer James Orr, the man behind Three Men and a Baby, Father of the Bride, Sister Act 2 and other Hollywood comedies.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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