A fine time was had by everyone I spoke to. Here are a few pictures taken at our Valtellina Night last Sunday 1 December by those of us trying to make up for photographer Richard's absence.
As Walter observed about this evening devoted to these hugely distinctive, refreshing Nebbiolo-based reds that are far too difficult to find on export markets, 'I was amazed about the feedback. Never did so many people come to me and want to chat about the wines.'
Usually Julia and I publish our tasting notes on the wines shown but we don't intend to do this this time because Walter published his tasting notes so recently, in the first part of his Valtellina report on this subalpine region's fascinating history. See also the second part: Walter's overview of the current situation. But I am intending to devote one of my FT articles in January to these entrancing wines.
Here's Walter doing the business, opening up the bottles at the back of Caravan, King's Cross, where all our London tasting events are held, and where they look after us so well.
Tim Jackson MW's job had been to check which bottles had arrived, to prepare the tasting booklet (being examined by Nick in the background), and to clearly number every bottle.
At last the bottles were ready to be lined up on the tasting tables below.
Caravan always has good music playing...
... presumably chosen by the staff, some of whom are seen here relaxing before the influx of wine tasters. (The kitchen staff were already hard at work preparing our food.) This time it is they who are choosing the charity to which any surplus from the event is given.
Our membership supremo Rachel Shaughnessy, the longest-serving member of the JR.com team, manned the reception desk with her daughter Katie, checking the names and handing out the tasting booklets and some of Alessandro Masnaghetti's top-quality maps of Valtellina...
... Part of their job was to direct tasters towards my beautiful glasses.
Also at the tasting were Sam Flintham-Ward and Emma White from my design partner Richard Brendon at a table where they showed off the glass and decanters. As you can see on the right, the tasting was already well underway.
At seven o'clock Walter gave a short and hugely inspiring talk about what makes Valtellina special. Vertiginous vineyards in part. Other rapt listeners included...
Then everyone got back to the tasting tables, including, centre foreground, Andrew Morris, who is currently masterminding our back end. So to speak.
These wines were pretty high in tannins so...
... there was a fairly early, and definitely enthusiastic, migration to the food tables.
After a fascinating tasting Nick and I collected up the natural corks (interspersed with a surprising number of synthetic stoppers) in order to send them for recycling to recorkeduk.org. A new initiative for us which we commend to you.
More next month on the wines.
And don't forget to enter our competition designed to work out how we should celebrate our twentieth anniversary next year.