This morning the atmosphere in King's Cross, the vibrant new development north of St Pancras Eurostar station, is heady with the aromas of sherry in the wake of our first Sherry Night at Caravan. The team at this extremely popular restaurant and coffee roastery did us proud last night with a series of suitable tapas to mop up the splendid collection of 38 top-quality sherries selected by Julia, pictured below alongside Angeline Bayly of Bespoke Drinks Media, who handle sherry promotional activity in the UK.
There are already tasting notes on the majority of them in our tasting notes database. Later this week we'll be publishing Julia's tasting notes on the 28 very recently bottled en rama sherries she tasted in Jerez in order to choose the youngest en ramas on offer last night. Tasters ranged vastly in age but it was great to hear comments such as 'I haven't tasted sherry for 20 years and this has really opened my eyes to the range available'.
To complement these exceptionally food-friendly wines, Caravan served us a mouth-watering selection of Spanish-influenced foods, including these Padrón peppers, tortilla, and chorizo croquetas with aioli.
But if you weren't there, what you probably really want to know is who won our long-running wine writing competition from the five finalists announced last week, chosen from the amazing 180 contestants, most of whom submitted two original articles, many of them quite brilliant.
We were so thrilled that all five of them were able to attend. Hrishi Poola came from Berlin. Joss Fowler and Christian Lowe came rather shorter distances from southern England and Caroline Gilby MW managed to get down from the Peak District in northern England. Note how colour-co-ordinated they are!
From left to right: Hrishi, Caroline, Christian, Joss and Tom.
Last night we stressed that the quality of all the contributions submitted by these five was so high that we would happily consider publishing any future articles they care to propose. But we did promise to choose one overall winner, and since this was a writing competition, we nominated the candidate we thought wrote the most beautifully in his two submissions, Hrishi (Rish) Poola.
Here's how he describes himself:
I'm a 33-year-old WSET Diploma student living in Berlin. Concerning wine, I'm humble, but opinionated. I relish most those that are honest, unshowy and big-hearted. My hobbies are browsing wine-store labels for hours, chatting with sommeliers and producers, and uncorking bottles with strange new Italian or Chinese-sounding names. This year I was within selfie distance of a 1928 Latour. BOORRRINGG. Please, give me a good barn dance!
My credo - seek inner grace and blissful embarrassments, reject pandering and endless chicken dinners. I believe in historical, literary and scientific heft. I believe that my wine and writing identities are inextricably linked. My love for both is marrow-deep. And as the poet C D Wright said, 'Seen in this light (this damnable dingy light), Brothers and Sisters, Señors y Señoras, I tell you how it is that we live, and what it is that we do, we get ourselves up, off our much abused sofas, Hermanos, Hermanas, to the old intolerable sound of hollow spoons in hollow bowls, to insure that our love has not left the world or else.'
Rish was raised in Connecticut ('where some truly terrible wines are made', he says), lived in London for a while, and then followed his wife, a mens' clothing designer, to Berlin, where they now live, virtually on the old site of the notorious Wall, with their one year-old daughter. He left his corporate life in healthcare to devote himself to wine and now, as well as writing, runs wine-based events with an associate.
We hope to be publishing more articles by him, but also by our other finalists. Alex Hunt MW, our ex-columnist whose post-Brexit resignation instigated the competition in the first place, was on hand to present Rish with his copy of Wine Grapes. As originally promised, Rish will also receive a five-year membership of JancisRobinson.com (as will Tom Munro of Sydney in recognition of the distance he was willing to travel to be with us last night).
We look forward to publishing more articles from Rish and the other finalists, and sincerely thank everyone who entered and the 2,500 readers who voted in our poll.