January has been anything but dry in the vineyard, and fairly miserable for the four who are out there pruning and the others who follow behind, pulling out and removing last year’s branches by hand. A rain-free, chilly fortnight ahead (since Sunday, above) will be most welcome for the vines to have a proper winter break.
Some thoughts on sourcing wine for charity, and this is by no means a definitive guide. Over the years, we’ve donated the wine for gala dinners, concert receptions, race evenings, lavish lunches, auction prizes – all sorts of things. Equally, we’ve had to turn down a lot of requests, and one of the main reasons (other than giving away precious stock) is the additional cost on top of the wine.
As we’ll see, a single case of 12 bottles of wine, with UK duty, shipping and delivery – and VAT on all those – costs £50, before counting the cost of the wine itself. Sparkling wine costs £8 a case more in extra duty. The donor therefore has to be pretty generous to stump up for the wine, with duty and delivery included, so it can make sense to split the bill: find a benefactor who will pay for the add-on part, and someone else to donate the wine. Keep reading
We all receive requests, from time to time, to support someone we know who’s putting themselves out to raise money for charity. Yet when some long standing customers, Bruce and Bridget Montgomery, asked us to support their son by donating the wine for a charity ball in London, we were blown away by what he’d set out to do. And now Paddy Montgomery, with his accomplice Seamus Crawford, has just completed the world’s toughest ‘triathlon’ by rowing across the Atlantic – 3000 miles from the Canaries to Antigua – braving waves of 40-50 feet and winds of over 40 knots. The ‘really brutal and horrible’ journey, according to Paddy, took 38 days, 22 hours, which was 2 days below the previous world record.
Here’s a suggestion if your other half is off the booze, or if you’re on your own at home and you want to enjoy a bottle of decent wine over two nights. Most of us don’t keep a supply of wine in half bottles, and that’s if you can find them. So you simply pour half the contents of a full bottle into a half bottle and seal the latter with the cork you’ve just pulled – at the start of the evening, not at the end. That’s the important bit.
I’ve had plenty of practice at this during during January over several years. This works primarily for full bottles sealed with a cork – there’s no need to do this with our screw-capped white, for example, as that will stay pretty fresh in the fridge for a few days once opened, with the cap back on.
“The question I get pretty much more than any other is how to find reliable value in Bordeaux,” writes Jane Anson, Decanter’s Bordeaux critic. “This is a region with 110,000 hectares, with 6,568 producers declaring a harvest in 2016.
“The sheer bewildering choice is one of the reasons for paying a little bit more for a bottle of wine when looking for assurance over quality, but there are plenty of producers who manage to deliver it at lower price points. Keep reading