These are consistently late and I am sorry, I am going to work on that, and I am also going to work on creating vlogs for you so that you don’t have to sit and read through all this….
Two more weeks have passed and I have had a dosser on my sofa for most of that time – I had a call for help from one of my oldest mates who needed a break from life in the UK and of course I was happy to have some company/a dog sitter, haha.
Over the course of the last two weeks I have finalised the wines for the first shipment of our wine club. The producers have been busy pulling together my order and are ensuring all their labels comply with UK regulations. Once this is all sorted we can get them packed onto two pallets and sent on their way to the UK. They will then need to clear customs and head up to Scotland when the boxes will be unpacked. Once unpacked my friend Otto will put your selected wines into your Jackson & Seddon boxes and have them sent to you. This all seemed so simple when I thought about the concept, but the government don’t want to make it easy, that’s for sure.
A couple of really important things happened these past two weeks, the first was Stavros turning on his irrigation system for the first time in seven years. Yep, it’s that dry and hasn’t rained in three months. Of course, Murphy’s law states ‘whatever can happen will happen’ so two days after getting a neighbour over to fire up the system, it honks it down for two days straight! Oh well, the trees and the vines need the water and as with most producers of wine in this region they don’t have irrigation for their vines.
The other thing that happened was meeting up with my new friends Sorcha and Amelia who were hosting a wine tour this weekend just passed. As some of you know, I was in a TV show a few months ago and that’s how I ended up here in Tuscany. Off the back of this programme, and with the work that I am doing on Jackson & Seddon, I have a few followers on Twitter and Instagram etc. One of those is a lovely lady called Sorcha who runs #UK Wine Hour on Twitter every Thursday. She contacted me to say that she was coming to Montalcino to host a wine tour with a group of people and would I be up for meeting for dinner? Of course I was up for this; I was excited and rather nervous to meet everyone, but also it was a great opportunity to meet some wine fans and talk nerdy with them. Sorcha then messaged and asked if I would like to join them at the final winery on their tour. This was a wonderful offer and one I gladly accepted. Montalcino is the home of the Brunello di Montalcino, a rather famous wine from this part of the world. It is a very beautiful town that is worth a visit while you’re here if you’re into wine. If you’re not into wine, it’s nice, but there are equally as stunning towns that are not so touristy.
While at the last winery we were treated to a really lovely and informative tour, there was great deal of information about the winery and lots about the history of Montalcino, which I found fascinating. Some of what we were told I had heard from my friend Alessandro; how the people of Montalcino used to be so poor they would flood into the other parts of the region to try and find work. Now, the land is worth a huge amount of money, so much so that there are over nine million bottles of Brunello produced a year by over 200 estates. While on the tour I was asked “so do you come up to Montalcino a lot?” to which I answered “no” and that’s the truth, I try to avoid Montalcino if I can, mostly because in my opinion you pay through the nose for the wines due to their name and brand. The whole thing about Brunello is that it’s the best Sangiovese grapes selected and then aged in oak for five years to give it the distinct flavour you expect from a Brunello. There is obviously a lot more that goes into this process, but that’s the basics and also why when the second question came at me there was shock in the room: “Do you like Brunello, Rob?” I paused for a while as I don’t like being negative but I am too honest, so I answered “no” and here is the reason….
Like many things in the wine world, you pay for reputation and name. There are some producers that have been making wines for centuries and their wines are renowned the world over, people visit them like they do Graceland in Memphis, to worship their own personal God. I get this, I really get it. I applaud people who love something that much, but that’s not what I love about wine.
I love that wine is made on small farms by interesting people, by passionate people. I love that I can meet producers who scoff at the big names and make wines that beat the big boys hands down for flavour and enjoyment. Wine for me is about emotion, it’s about having a bottle of wine that was so wonderful you remember it for the rest of your days. And I am sorry, but you don’t need to spend £500 to achieve that. I have tried wines for a tenth of that that will stay with me forever. Sorry, let me just say I appreciate Brunello for what it is, I just don’t believe it’s worth the price tag.
Anyway, after the shock revelation that I live spitting distance from the Brunello region but don’t like it, we all moved on to dinner. Sorcha had such a lovely group of guests, they made me feel really welcome and involved me in their conversations and debates. After dinner we found a street party happening as it was the day before the Palio di Siena, and the town takes this as a good reason for a party, and why not? If you are not aware, the Palio is a horse race that takes place in the centre of Siena. If you have seen the recent James Bond – Quantum Of Solace, it is very similar to the race that takes place at the start of the film. We arrived at the party to be greeted like locals and everyone had a dance in the street which was really lovely to see. We were then presented with cans of lager by one of the locals, but the look on Amelia’s face was a picture as she clearly isn’t a lager drinker, and neither am I. So I legged it back to my car where I had a couple of bottles of Pavone (two year aged Sangiovese) which had been intended for Amelia and Sorcha anyway. I returned to a hero’s welcome and some plastic cups which were sourced by Amelia. This is what I love about the world I live in, I was standing in the street with new friends, drinking great wine from plastic cups and listening to terrible music while people danced all around us.