Magazine article The Spectator

Drink A Duty to the Club

Magazine article The Spectator

Drink A Duty to the Club

Article excerpt

We should all perform good works. A friend of mine helps to run a soup kitchen in Soho. She summons the wives of the mighty from their seats, in order to fill the lowly with good things. There is a degree of competitiveness. Soignee ladies arrive from Belgravia and Knightsbridge, keeping narrowed eyes on one another's provender. The rough sleepers are comforted with ris de veau comme chez Troisgros or gnocchi alla Milanese, even if they would prefer a bag of chips and a bottle of meths. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

My duties are more demanding.

I serve on the wine committee of a London club. That is much harder than it sounds.

I t would be equally simple to satisfy the easy sleepers of Pall Mall and St James's. All they want is crisp, flinty Chablis followed by subtle and sonorous claret - at the prices of two decades ago. So there is a lot of frustration, especially when dealing with the cynicism and ruthlessness of the Bordelaises. Some of the Bordeaux that we have been offered was only fit to be turned into meths.

'All right for some, ' friends will retort when told that one is off to a committee meeting. Occasionally, I will try to string them along. 'Yes, a horizontal tasting of the '82 first growths.

Could be in for a disappointment.

Gather some of them have gone back into themselves.'

I will then cut off the salivation by saying that we are actually looking for a house claret which is a little better than Berry Bros' good ordinary claret: never an easy task.

The other evening, there was a tasting which made it all worthwhile.

I have often praised the wines of Pierre Bouree, based in Gevrey Chambertin and run by my friend Bernard Vallet.

Bernard believes in tradition and simplicity. Respect the grape, respect your terroir, and remember that men have been harvesting their vines here for at least 2,000 years. Ultimately, if your are true to your craft, the wine that you bottle will reward you. …

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