Thursday, August 10, 2006

Quality Control

Last night we had a VIP dinner upstairs in one of the function rooms. The group finance director was dining with what seemed to be all the main accountants within Grosvenor. The host is a very powerful man, after all he effectively controls the Duke's money. Needless to say everyone was stressing about the dinner, from the MD down to the M&PD boys and girls who were serving it. I got dragged into the pre-event panic and ended up performing a spot of quality control. I had to open and check every bottle of wine that was due to be served that evening.

Now normally I like this part of the job, after all I get to taste the wine. But yesterday I had the headache from hell. Nurofen was powerless against it, even the old faithful standby of a piece of dark chocolate 70% cocao mass, didnt get through. So when you feel like that, its a bit more of a challenge to motivate yourself to taste twenty bottles of wine. I also had the challenge that almost immediately afterwards I was intending to drive home. Im always cautious about this. Im a responsable person, and if Im driving I dont drink. On an evening service I wont taste anything after 10pm, which usually gives me two hours until I go home. More than enough time to remove any alcohol from my system. After all I probably consume less than 10ml of wine in an evening, which in real terms is less alcohol than you would absorb into your bloodstream after using mouthwash.

So what were the wines - the white was a very nice Arneis from Ascheri, the "Christina" which is named in honour of the winemakers mother. Coming from the Langhe hills of Piedmont it has crisp green apple aromas on the nose, with a hint of pear and I think it is possibly thyme - mediterranean herb. One the palate it is very fresh with a good crisp acidity, medium light body, with the same green apple flavours but with a finish that reminds me of quince paste.

We dragged out one of the big boys for the red - a Chambertin grand cru - "Clos de Beze" from Drouhin-Laroze. An intensely flavoured pinot, with dark red fruit flavours - morello cherry, blackberry, with a gamey surrounding aroma and earthy notes. This one had a really intense flavour on the palate, but the layers dissolved away gently revealing more, over all a very complex wine. Initially the cherrys and blackberries were quite strong, then redcurrents and raspberries, then it became more meaty, like a well aged fillet, succulent and tender. I thought I got a smokey edge on the palate, but it might have been a slight fault, as it only came up on two of the ten bottles. Surprisingly there wasnt much bottle variation, as they were 99's they've only really had about four or five years in bottle, so thats about right. The good news was, no corked bottles, all fit for serving. So I squiggle my initials in the top left hand corner of each label, and we're all ready to rock and roll. Of I trot, as confidant as I can be that all is well with the wines.

PS - the red wine was very well recieved, and for another day Im in the good books.

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