People always ask me what my favourite wine is; I find it difficult to answer because my favourites are constantly evolving. The world of wine is never static and this constant evolution is one of the things that keeps my interest and passion alive. Within this ever changing landscape there are a few Wine Hero’s who have had a huge influence on me and I would like to focus on four of them: Two of my Wine Hero’s are wine makers and two are wine critics.
Two wine critics have had a great impact on the way I think about wine: Jancis Robinson & Luis Gutiérrez. Each is so much more than simply a critic. Jancis Robinson is wine critic, educator and influencer. She is hugely knowledgable and has spent her career sharing that knowledge with others. I have thoroughly enjoyed her writing and like all great critics she has helped to shape and influence the world she is writing about; her opinion counts because it is so informed. On her visit to 64 Wine I had lunch with her and her husband Nick Lander the eminent food writer. It’s often said that one should not meet one’s hero’s, but Jancis did not disappoint. Erudite, informed and incredibly modest about her achievements, it was a lunch to remember.
Luis Gutiérrez is Robert Parker’s Wine Advocates writer on Spain. He is constantly searching for new and interesting wines and there are many wines that we stock as a result of Luis Gutiérrez writing about them. Luis spent most of his working life in the corporate world and wine was a passion he enjoyed on the side. All of that has changed over the last 15 years as his writing has become much more significant. Spain may be his speciality but he has a huge interest in wines from regions as diverse as Burgundy, Switzerland & Argentina. This wider interest in wine sets him apart from many other Spanish wine writers as it gives a global perspective to his writing. Spain is one of 64 Wines great strengths and this has been helped by the writing of Luis Gutierrez! I am thrilled that Luis is coming to visit us at 64 Wine on the 16th May and will be hosting a tasting of wines that feature in his book ‘The New Vignerons’
Thomas Pico is a rarity – an organic wine maker from Chablis where the climate makes organic viticulture difficult. He makes wines of incredible purity on his estate – Domaine Pattes-Loup. Thomas Pico is making extraordinary wines for someone so young. I was thrilled to visit him in 2017 and was impressed by the quality of the wines I tasted. His passion, enthusiasm and drive for perfection made a lasting impression. He inherited a small estate from his father and was determined to improve the quality of wine produced. In a region where continuity and tradition are much more prevalent, this was a high risk strategy that many people advised against. Today Domaine Pattes-Loup has a formidable reputation and in years to come I believe Thomas Pico will be compared to other great winemakers from the region such as Raveneau & Dauvissat.
Pablo Calatayud is a wine hero because of his quirky curiosity and exploration of interesting ideas. If you had visited his winery Celler del Roure ten years ago, you would have been treated to a modern, efficient cellar with assorted stainless steel tanks and new French oak barrels. After touring the current technology you would be taken on a tour of the ancient property, including a subterranean cellar dug into the bedrock below the estate. This cellar afforded a glimpse of the winemaking practices from the last century. The winding halls of the cellar are lined by dozens of amphorae embedded into the earth with individual stone lids. Such a complete and well preserved historic artefact would have remained as a curiosity for most people, but Pablo Calatayud saw it as an opportunity to explore how wines were made centuries ago and how they would have tasted. As a result he is making wines in these amphorae and they are of the highest quality. Vermel for example was one of our customers favourite wines of 2017.