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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
1 Jun 2010

Bids close next Monday 7 June for what sounds like the most sybaritic weekend of fine wine and food in the Dordogne, south-west France, on 16-18 July, 2010. The weekend is being organised in aid of the extremely worthy Cambodian Children's Fund. Nick and I will be there throughout the weekend and can vouch for the standard of welcome, wine and food that will be on offer as the organisers Mike (a trustee of the UK arm of the Cambodian Children's Fund) and Katie Armitage are old friends of ours.

So far £6,000 has been bid but the Armitages would of course like to raise even more to provide life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children from some of Cambodia's most destitute communities. You can bid by email to mail@mjarmitage.com. They are also prepared to entertain bids from couples - although bids for all three double rooms will be given precedence.

Mike Armitage used to be president of the Interesting Wine Club in London which specialised in fine and esoteric bottles. Nine years ago he moved to the Dordogne with many of these bottles and his wife Katie (not sure in which order). They live in what he calls 'a little piece of paradise called Briançon'. (See more details here.)

Briançon is a maison de maître, mainly dating from 1805, though parts _MG_2704were built in the 14th century. Set in its own five acres of gardens and meadows with a stream, it has been beautifully modernised by Katie. There is a heated pool in what is described to me as 'glorious, mature gardens 400 m from the nearest road, with the only sound coming from the local wildlife'.

Throughout the year Katie runs textile, creative writing and even tango workshops with celebrated artists from the UK under the banner Les Soeurs Anglaises. A very longstanding American friend of mine flew all the way from the MidWest, deserting her baby son and his father, to attend one of these workshops and absolutely loved it.

On offer is a weekend for a further six people (in three double rooms) with a wonderful array of fine, mature wines from Mike's cellar and great food (about which you can read more on their website). Here is the plan:

Friday afternoon and evening

Pick up from airports at Bergerac and Angoulême, or train station (TGV) at Angoulême.

Champagne reception and dinner.
Pol Roger 1990 and Bollinger 1990, magnum of Lanson 1976, Chanoine 1964. Oysters, langoustines etc.

Saturday

Tutored tasting of Mosel and other German wines going back to the great 1976 vintage, accompanied by local foie gras. Optional visit to Bruno Bilancini's vineyard and chai at Ch Tirecul la Gravière - the greatest Monbazillac ever (put on a par with Yquem by Parker, I'm told).

Burgundy dinner
Jadot 1995 Corton Charlemagne
Dom Marey Monge 1964 Romanée St-Vivant (two years before it was leased to DRC)
Louis Latour, Les Quatre Journeaux 1964 Romanée St-Vivant
Louis Latour 1959 Corton Clos du Roi (French bottled)
Unknown producer 1959 Grands Echezeaux (English bottled, Corney & Barrow)
Unknown producer 1949 Chambolle Musigny (French bottled, Hasenklever)
Bouchard Père et Fils 1949 Richebourg (English bottled)
Massandra White Muscat 1938 Crimea


Sunday daytime

Bordeaux lunch
Weather permitting, a long and languid lunch by the pool. Starting with a Trimbach, Clos St Hune Riesling 1989 Alsace and a Zind Humbrecht, Clos Windsbuhl 1989 Vendange Tardive (Parker 100, Mike thinks). The clarets will probably begin with a magnum of Ch Lafite 1973 ('delicate, classy and ethereal') then push back through the great vintages, Ch Giscours 1970 (a lovely wine), Ch Canon 1966, Ch Léoville Las Cases 1962, Ch Lynch Bages 1953 etc. Any special requests for birth years etc will be catered for if at all possible.

Sunday evening or Monday morning

Guests will be returned to either airports or train stations

  • Cuisine by Mike and Katie (see here for comments on their food, which they describe as having 'its roots in Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson, and has been updated via Moro and Ottolenghi') and Gareth Morgan from Mimosa Cuisine.
  • This weekend is for six people, including meals, continental breakfasts, wines, indeed everything except air or train fares.
  • The winning party will be the group making the highest bid, with a reserve of £6,000. This will be in the form of a donation to CCF UK and will therefore be fully tax-deductible for UK residents.

Kindly email bids direct to Mike at mail@mjarmitage.com

In order to allow potential bidders to make plans, book flights etc (check out CityLine Swiss who fly Gatwick-Angoulême for around €100 return, although the return flight is on Monday afternoon). Get those bids in now, please.

Deadline Monday 7 June.