The Southwold Group has tasted the top wines of Bordeaux from the latest physically available vintage together for over 40 years. This used to take place – as the group’s name suggests – in Southwold in Suffolk, but it has now moved to Farr Vintners where we taste in a purpose-built modern tasting room. This is now my seventh Southwold Group tasting, with 2019 my tenth vintage tasted En Primeur (albeit in strange circumstances due to COVID restrictions).
A little over a decade ago, Prince Robert of Luxembourg and the Dillon Estates bought Tertre Daugay - a Saint Emilion property with prime vineyards - and renamed it Quintus (as the fifth estate owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon). The estate has grown over time to include the vines from L'Arrosée in 2013 and, more recently, Grand Pontet. The cellars, vineyards and team have been overhauled, bringing expertise, experience and dilligence to the property in an effort to make Quintus one of the great wines of the right bank.
The annual “Ten Years On” blind tasting returned to its normal schedule after recent delays due to the pandemic. This year we looked at the 2012s, with 2018 Southwold fresh in our minds.
The annual “Ten Years On” blind tasting this year was delayed from February because of the pandemic but eventually took place at the beginning of October 2021 – appropriately exactly ten years after the harvest’s last Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were picked.
The Southwold Group usually convenes in January; this year was obviously different and we were pleased to finally hold our tasting of the 2017 vintage this week. The panel included no less than six MWs, the buyers of the UK’s leading merchants and Neal Martin of Vinous.com. Our friend Steven Spurrier was much missed.
The “Southwold Group” has been conducting an annual blind tasting of Bordeaux wines at ten years of age for nearly 30 years. The first one that I attended was of the 1982 vintage, which took place in 1992 over two days in the offices of the original Lay and Wheeler wine merchants in Colchester. I recently learned that a junior member of the L&W team helped organise this tasting, and her name was Jo Purcell. Two years later she left Essex for the bright lights of Hong Kong when she started working for Farr Vintners and opened - all on her own - the first office in Asia of a London wine merchant. She has remained there ever since and Farr Vintners’ strong reputation in the HK wine market is very much down to Jo. She just let me know the news that Richard Wheeler sadly passed away this week.