Tony and The Guru leads you to the vineface





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The UGCB Tasting

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We sat at a table by ourselves and the waiters brought are choices (ordered by number). I was on a front row and was supposed to remain seated but my spit bucket wasn’t emptied so I had to get up and empty it. This brought stern looks from all.

Finally the waiter got into his stride and it was possible to get the wines quicker. I also realised that I needed to make notes quicker and my tasting notes became almost vague sketches of a wine and its potential.

To help I colour coded them so that it was easy to build on my first impressions

The event was three hours and was much shorter than the event would have been in France, where we would have been bused to the different regions and are tastebuds could have specialised in just that area.

I feel that overall the vintage is above average as a whole and that the left bank has produced a finer crop of wines. This is only a vague notion because out of the 130 wines available I was only able to manage 29 so the sample is as conclusive as I would have liked.

Mention the irony of it being in a church hall, perhaps linking religion and wine.

As I travel to the UGCB tasting in London, I realise that this is not only the first time I’ve been on a train since March, but it is the first time I’ve been in London since we were sent to bed without supper for this supreme beastliness ruining our lives.

To say I’m excited is an understatement because I’ve been dying to attend a UGCB En Primeur tasting all year and so far I’ve had no luck. I was due to go to Bordeaux in April but that was not on, then I thought that summer might be the time but no, and then finally I’d got a trip to Bordeaux lined up for October but you all know what happened so attending this London En Primeur tasting that was organised by the UGCB is such a welcome diversion and a chance to ride the wine horse again that I’m positively beaming under my mask as a ride into London on a eerily quiet train. Before I continue, for those who do not know who they are, just who are the UGCB.

It actually stands for the Union Grande Cru Bordeaux (check) and they work on behalf of a substantial amount of the producers in Bordeaux. Their portfolio is so large that it’s easier to name the producers who don’t feature.

Every year they bring a plethora of the great and good of the wine scene (buyers/writers and the like) to Bordeaux to taste the latest vintage that the area has to offer before it is released to the general public a number of year later, and then eager scribes such as I slave over a hot computer bringing you findings, recommendations and the inside track on what to look out for.  HERE WRITE A BIT MORE ABOUT THE UGCB)

Right, that’s the lesson out of the way. I’m a man who has been without a glass of Bordeaux finest in his hand and I’m hoping to be able to seek out one or two splendid wines that I can recommend to you as keepers and drinkers.

I remember going to the Decanter Tasting last year and writing how disappointed I was at the lack of a tasting booklet before I arrived. This made my tasting choices more rushed than I like. Well UGCB have avoided that by sending our links to allow us to print the brochure and list of wines beforehand and you can bet that there are one or eight that I’m eager to sample.

The UGCB have also sent out a list of rules and regs that we need to follow and I can’t see any problem. Don’t come if you have Covid, and don’t bother if you’ve not a mask seem sensible. Keep your belongings with you, each of have our own seat and the wines will be brought to us (where we can take our masks off). The essentials will be provided but alas the wafers are absent (I often find them an afterthought when tasting and prefer water as my palate cleanser.

The original venue was in another location but this was changed to the present gaff because if could all those who wished to attend the various sessions that would be taking place over the two days. I attended on a Wednesday because I couldn’t make the Tuesday press tasting. From what I gather there will be about thirty of us seated and it reminds me of my first day of secondary school; I think I know what to expect but I’m sure it will be quite different in the flesh, so to speak).

Very organised, but everybody else but me seemed to be getting served. The light wasn’t conducive to exploring the colour of a wine in great depth. In the end I didn’t try a few of the wines I’d hoped to do and at least one had been drunk (the one I was really hoping for Smith Haut Lafitte).