Following hot on the heels of Vinexpo madness, June was a rapid-fire blast starting off with my little man’s first birthday, a quick jaunt to Vienna for Vievinum (and of course Burg Bernstein) then Paris for the handover of Dom Pérignon, then back home again to recover before July’s rash of travel. Am feeling very excited about the two new Almásy wines we have added to the six in the collection. Meanwhile, a few new partnerships are in the works although not yet ready to be announced. Working on locations for a first Visual Tasting Notes show and/or book – again, watch this space!
Having firmly committed to spending the month of May at home and recovering from March and April’s travels (among which was my first trip to India: an absolute stunner – I’m completely won over!), I nonetheless remember May as a series of increasingly debauched episodes culminating in the breakneck week of Vinexpo.
Highlights included the ’38, ’58, ’78 birthday party of a trio of friends with the very healthy ratio of 2-3 bottles per person, spending time with two pillars of the Spanish wine industry – Miguel Torres and Pablo Alvarez – as well as Jean-Luc Pepin of de Vogüé, Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Greg Lambrecht of Coravin, launching the Almásy Collection, joining the Knights of Alba and announcing my appointment as faculty of the Vinitaly International Academy. Meanwhile have been delving further and further into my Visual Tasting Notes project, on which more in the coming months!
Though I was feeling mildly guilty for skipping March, thanks to the absolute chaos that was April I’m beginning to feel a bit like March just missed me. Since our return from the snowier climes of WA State, we’ve moved house, I’ve dashed off to Thailand to visit my good friends at Lucaris and keep working on our new collection, puttered off to Austria to get cracking on picking wines for the Almásy Selection, judged around 250 Italian wines for 5StarWines (many concocted from such grapes as, among others, Cagnulari, Ribona and Foglia Tonda) then sidled down to the Amalfi Coast to do a little filming for Wine Masters, Season 1 of which is due on iTunes, Amazon and more any minute now! Next week: India. But for now, a moment of vinous reminiscence:
February was an unusually snowy one for this little Hong Kong family: one of us (not me) managed to get out on the slopes a respectable six times, another of us (again, not me) got in his first ever snow frolic and our snowman, once a respectable 5 feet tall, morphed over the course of the month into a heap only Jabba the Hutt’s mother could love. Still, the contrarian in me balks at the idea of heavy wine for heavy sweater season, so this is what we drank instead:
If I claimed the days leading up to doomsday (aka MW exam results day) weren’t filled with blistering anxiety about this column, it would be one of the larger untruths I’ve ever attempted. As the day approached, my ego amused itself with fantasies of writing about another subject entirely (rootstocks or something), slipping “oh, and I didn’t pass” in the last sentence and hoping nobody noticed.
The origin story of this week’s column is especially dear to me because it is an ode to the bliss of a Master of Wine student’s post-exam life. You see, in order to preserve the sensitivity of my olfactory instrument (nose), I swore off perfume for about two and a half years (with, I confess, the occasional guilty lapse on very special occasions, like non-wine dinners).
With only about a month remaining before my MW tasting exams as I wrap up this article, the pressure is now somewhere on the dial between 10 and 11. I remember from about this time last year that this is when most of us begin to show subtle (and some less subtle) signs of wear – under-eye bags more than usually baggy, spines like typhoon-battered tree trunks from shuttling about weighty tomes and cases of wine, teeth perpetually black from daily tasting.
One question that never seems to get old when you reveal to people that your version of studying involves tasting lots of different types of wine is “you must drink loads of good wine then?” Regrettably, this truly isn’t the case (at least, not while I’m studying). Loathe as I am to play the consummate wine snob, even my well-exercised liver simply lacks the capacity to process whole bottles of the myriad (many, sadly, rather average) wines that I’m required to know intimately in order to pass the Master of Wine tasting exams.