One of the questions I am most frequently asked is “why did you get into wine?”, and the answer is quite simple; I want to be part of an industry founded on passion, with a product people love that brings a sense of occasion and excitement to those involved. With any hands-on industry that encourages involvement in the way that wine does, you inevitably make friends and form relationships with like-minded individuals along the way. So, drinking fine wine, meeting winemakers and growers, socialising….what more could I want? Well I wouldn’t complain about a holiday…
As you can imagine, when a friend and fellow wine lover invited me out for a weekend at his home on the F1 circuit in Monaco for the 9th Historic Grand Prix it wasn’t a difficult decision. Case packed with shorts and wine I made the trip to Paris, then Nice, and then finally Chopper’d into Monaco – the only fitting way to arrive in the glamorous principality! Although Paul said that he had a good view, I never imagined it would be a birds-eye track-side view of arguably the best stretch of the F1 circuit…we were quick to make the most of it, and with just enough time to don the shorts we cracked open a bottle of Allegrini’s La Poja 2007; the combination of dense red and black fruit and velvety tannin was beautiful, and the concentration followed through on the very long finish…although we didn’t have a food with this I couldn’t help but think this robust wine paired perfectly with the 2 litre 1970’s F3 beasts roaring past the balcony. A couple of glasses and several laps later the track was opened to the public, and we took a walk down to the beach for a spot of seafood and some Domaine Ott Rose – a must for anyone in the Sun, and by all accounts a beautiful rose, but I think my heart honestly lies with Sacha Lichine’s Whispering Angel (and Garrus when I’m feeling flush) when it comes to Provencal pink.
I’ve had some pretty noisy alarm clocks in the past, but nothing quite compares to a swarm of 1960’s F1 cars taking to the incline outside the window, a noise you feel rather than hear! From then on it was a petrol-head’s paradise with a bevy of F1, F2, F3 and all sorts of historic sport and supercars – it took quite a distraction to pull us away from the racing, but we had a few:
Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2002
“Recommended and purchased by the very friend who hosted me for the weekend, this was a very welcome discovery. Rich plum fruit backed by spice, smoke and gamey notes hint at the maturity here, but I was very impressed at how fresh this was. Difficult to find, but worth every penny!” 92pts BI
Clarendon Hills ‘Astralis’, 1997
“Concentrated black fruit with savoury notes of earth, black pepper and eucalyptus. Following on from the Valentini this was a very dense wine, but in the context of Aussie Shiraz this was rather feminine. The first vintage of Astralis I have tasted and as such a real eye opener, reinforcing my belief that Australia produces some of the very finest wines in the world.” 96+pts BI
Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne, 1991
“Wow. Quite simply the finest wine I have ever enjoyed. This was a sensational wine of impeccable balance, with notes of smoked meat, black pepper, hints of spice, and new leather intertwined with the dense and concentrated core of cassis and black fruit. Mind-blowing. Even if it means eating beans on toast for the next few years I will build a collection of Guigal’s world beating LaLa’s!” 100pts BI
Track closed and still buzzing from the incredible wines (and ears ringing from the racing) we grabbed the lead and took the dog for a walk around the bay and over to the old town to the more architecturally attractive part of Monaco, including the astonishing museum/aquarium, and grabbed a bite to eat among the narrow streets atop ‘the rock’ – a lovely way to finish an awesome weekend.
A big thank you to Paul for such an unforgettable weekend of fine wine and fast cars – roll on F1 2015!!