Who knew that Arabic has more than 30 words for wine?

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You’ve probably heard of Omar Khayyam – but do you know the wine poetry of Abu Nuwas?

He was, in the words of Justin Marozzi, a “hard-drinking libertine… whose rollicking, subversive verse set 8th-century Baghdad in uproar”.

He was the most famous bacchic poet of his time, immortalised in “The Arabian Nights”.

This (translated) quatrain is from his poem “The Wine in Heaven”:

As for that which is forbidden
Whatever could be dafter?
A thing banned in this world
Yet abounds in the hereafter.

His poetry enriches us all.

#VinsExtraordinaires
#London
#Mayfair
#FineWine

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: MUMBAI SPECIAL NEWSLETTER

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

Please find attached – hot off the press – PFF’s October MUMBAI SPECIAL newsletter.

Back safe and sound at project base camp in leafy Berkshire. I was greeted by frost on house and car roofs when I woke on Friday morning. FROST! Something of a change after the furnace heat of the past five weeks.

A busy couple of days in prospect getting this newsletter down the wires so I’ll keep this brief. Once done I can relax. Hurrah to that!

Cheers

Vic”

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How much might the Romanée-Conti vineyard be worth? (Clue: A lot…)

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The source of the world’s most revered and expensive wine is unlikely to be sold but we can have a guess by using purported figures from the recent sale of Clos de Tart to French billionaire François Pinault’s Groupe Artémis holding company, which also owns Château Latour and Christie’s.

Clos de Tart is 7.5 hectare Grand Cru vineyard in Morey-St-Denis. “Le Point” reported, “la somme mise pour acquérir ce bijou dépasserait allègrement les 200 millions d’euros” (“the sum put to acquire this jewel would happily exceed 200 million euros”).

Burgundy vineyards don’t come cheap. In May 2014, LVMH purchased Domaine du Clos des Lambrays lock, stock and barrique, which included the 8.7 hectare Grand Cru vineyard Clos des Lambrays, for €101 million, or €11,609,195 per hectare.

Assuming €200 million for Clos de Tart, it equates to €26,666,667 per hectare.

Clos de Tart 2007 retails in the UK for £225 or so per bottle.

Romanée-Conti is only 1.63 hectares.

The 2007 vintage retails at £12,000 or so per bottle, equivalent to 53.33 bottles of Clos de Tart 2007.

Using the multiple of 53 applied to Clos de Tart’s per hectare price, Romanée-Conti’s nominal market value is €1,413,333,351 per hectare, or €2,303,733,362 for the entire vineyard.

That would be a big investment for a vineyard that produces only 5,000 or so bottles per year.

If you assumed a not unreasonable 10-year ROI, then a bottle of Romanée-Conti would have to be sold ex-cellars at over €46,000…

#VinsExtraordinaires
#London
#Mayfair
#FineWine
#RomaneeConti

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What Ol’ Blue Eyes and Deano drank in Las Vegas…

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I came across a reproduction of the Copa Room’s wine list at The Sands hotel in Las Vegas during Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin’s performances there.

Some of the American wines’ names – “Gamay Beaujolais” and “Dry Sauterne” (sic) – would not be permitted now.

The list also helpfully points out the “imported” wines.

The “fifth” and “tenth” serving measures I guess equate to 150ml and 75ml respectively.

The imported wines are more expensive than the native wines, with the exception of Soave Bolla, which costs the same as the least expensive American wines here.

Moulin-à-Vent is only 50 cents less than Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

At $10 per fifth, Blue Nun “spaetlese” costs more than Pommard or Chablis.

The most expensive wine pro rata is a magnum of “Dom Pérignon Vintage” – though the year is not stated.

Indeed, the only wine for which a vintage is stated is “Château Lafite Rothschild (1961)”, which shows that even in its early days its quality was renowned.

Many sources state 1959 as the date of this menu but that cannot be possible if it includes Lafite 1961. There are images of Ol’ Blue Eyes and Deano performing together in 1964, which fits the Lafite vintage.  

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What Brexit might have looked like 260-years ago…

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As we brace ourselves for the seemingly inevitable hard Brexit, at which point France will stop sending its wines to Britain, here is 260-year old evidence that the British taste for French delicacies will carry on regardless.

This splendid print called “The Imports of Great Britain from France” is by Louis Philippe Boitard (1733–1767), who was born in France but spent most of his adult life in London. Boitard was a designer and engraver of satirical prints, book illustrations, theatrical portraits, and political satires.

The print was published in May 1757, a year after the start of the Seven Years’ War. Britain had formally declared war on France on 17th May 1756.

The busy scene shows a ship from France unloading stereotyped French immigrants and imports at what is now Tower Pier, with the Tower of London in the background.

Look at some of what’s going on here: A cook received eagerly by what the text calls “emaciated high liv’d epicures”; the crates of perfumes for Monsieur Pomade and millinery for Mademoiselle Chicane; and the boy holding his nose over a cask of Normandy cheese.

At bottom right two men – customs inspectors probably – “inspect” (i.e. drink) the contents of wine barrels labelled as “CLARET”, “BURGUNDY”, and “CHAMPAGNE”.

There was a short harvest in Britain in 1757 so it’s no wonder that they’re so thirsty and that imports were a necessity.


#VinsExtraordinaires #FineWineBusinessNetwork #Winetasting #Finewine #London #Mayfair #Brexit #Art #Wineinart

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT NEWSLETTER: 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

It’s a case of circumstances dictating this month’s project newsletter. The next couple of weeks are set to be a tad frenetic what with a return to the UK (I’m currently in Berlin), our Sort & Pack Day for India + more kit set for Afghan refugees in France. And to top it off, an evening flight to Mumbai on 27 September.

The attached issue – (mercifully) short on text, big on pictures – marks the tenth anniversary of PFF. An incredibly difficult task trying to choose a page of images for each season from an archive of around 5,000! There’ll be many more too during October. To follow PFF’s daily Facebook pictures and postings from Mumbai and beyond simply click on the following link: http://www.facebook.com/projectfrontfoot/.

Tally ho!

Vic”

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: AUGUST NEWSLETTER

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

A tad early this month with the newsletter on account of a return to Mumbai exactly five weeks today. Hopefully it’ll have stopped raining by then. It also marks (where did that go?) the tenth! anniversary of our work with the Dharavi slum kids and beyond.

With little coming out of Mumbai this month attention has focused on the UK and our various kit collection road trips. The summer appeal brought another huge swag of clothing and equipment enabling us (although a little too late to make this newsletter) to indulge in a spot more Brexit-busting.

To this end, several bags of kit will be heading to France in late September to support a club comprised entirely of Afghan refugees. So as the country heads one way, PFF, as with much of the past ten years, will be travelling in the other! Long may it continue.

Cheers

Vic”

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Abigail Connolly on wine tasting and mansplaining

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“Men are surprised I know about wine”, says Birmingham-based sommelier Abigail Connolly.

Listen to Abigail here.

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Hardy Rodenstock RIP (-off)

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W. Blake Gray has published something on the notorious and recently deceased Hardy Rodenstock, “a prolific wine counterfeiter who operated with impunity for two decades”.

Thanks to Blake for interviewing me (by email).

I pondered the parallels between Rodenstock and Kurniawan.

First, there is the emergence from nowhere to eminence in fine wine circles. The back story, if there was one, was nebulous. Neither of them were known by their given names but instead by assumed names.

The source of their apparent wealth was not obvious. In Rodenstock’s case, it apparently included a Taiwanese company that packaged walnuts stuffed with a condom, which he then made gifts of to guests at his tastings.

There was the seemingly miraculous ability to source wines from “secret” or “magic” cellars. Questions about provenance were met with contradictions and deviousness.

Somebody told me recently, “Hardy’s business was far more lucrative than Rudy’s. I had the opportunity to view a small sampling of their bank records. Hardy was a super nova (sic) and Rudy was a comet. The former operated for more than four decades; the latter six years… For some strange reason, collectors loved his notoriety. He would hold four tastings at the Hafemklub (sic – he meant Hafen-Klub) in Hamburg every year at 2000 Euros a head even after the media published articles about him in the mid 2000s. And they came in droves.”

The similarities show that Kurniawan was not inevitable. Without Rodenstock, there is no Kurniawan.

I corresponded with Rodenstock by fax in 2006 after Bill Koch had filed a civil complaint against Rodenstock in a New York federal court. (I was writing about it for The World of Fine Wine, where I then worked.)

My recollection of his fax’s content is that he was belligerently defensive in broken English. That’s as close as I got to him…

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