Every winter we round up a crack squad of skivers, drag them away from the work that they are supposed to be doing in ski resorts and take them on a voyage of vino discovery in a nearby winemaking region. It’s all about bringing our clients and our producers closer together and understanding a little more about the backbreaking toil that goes into getting top-notch booze onto your table. Oh, and it’s a bloody good laugh too…
The destination of choice for this year’s event was the Rhone Valley in the South of France. From the big, juicy Mediterranean-influenced wines of the South to the more delicate, peppery reds and floral whites found in the North, there’s enough diversity in the Rhone Valley to satisfy a myriad of tastes so it seemed like an ideal fit for a trip packed full of established and budding wine lovers.
Over the course of 2 days our debonair crew soared around the region, visiting current and potential producers, learning about the unique characteristics of the region, sampling a dizzying amount of wine and chuckling rather a lot. Highlights included comparing potential new Crozes Hermitage producers, popping into see the folks at Domaine de la Berthete to sample the delish, excellent value IGP red that we’ve just added to the list, and getting stuck into stonky Sablets, Gigondas and a gorgeous Plan de Dieu (coming to a wine list near you) at Domaine des Pasquiers.
There were loads of memorable moments over the course of the two day trip but first prize for impact must go to Chateau Mont Redon’s super swanky grape-identifying machine – or ‘optical sorting machine‘ to use its official name. This incredible bit of kit uses cameras to analyse all the grapes travelling at 80kph along a conveyor belt and identifies which ones will make the cut in terms of colour and quality. Sub-standard grapes are blasted off course using powerful peashooters whilst their ruby red high achieving cousins proceed onwards towards immortality and become a delicious Chateauneuf du Pape.
It’s the must-have gadget for any wannabe wine producer with a spare €250k to spend and having tasted everything that the peashooter allowed into our gobs, we’re happy to say that it’s worth every penny.