The 12th Wine Dinner

Written By

March 4th 2014

Excitement was in the air on the 27th February, the date of the 12th biennial Wine Dinner. The venue was the Savoy, the vintage 1985 and the charities MacIntyre, Carefree and Families for Children.

The Goedhuis team headed over to the Savoy mid-afternoon for the not inconsiderable task of decanting and checking not only the twenty-one tasting wines but also the two spectacular red Clarets (Léoville Las Cases and La Mission Haut-Brion 1985, the latter immensely generously provided by HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg) to be drunk with dinner.

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We made it just in time, changed into our jackets and frocks and were lined up behind the tasting tables poised for action with fifteen minutes to spare.

This is the fifth time I have helped out at a Wine Dinner and there did seem to be an extra buzz in the room. Perhaps the anticipation of tasting such an extraordinary array of fully mature Clarets? Johnny’s logic for choosing 1985: “We felt that it was time to taste a fully mature vintage. There are many wines that are drinking beautifully and some are absolutely stunning.”

I always seem to end up (perhaps as much by design as chance) pouring the Cheval Blanc and it was certainly one of the star wines of the tasting. I was even pretty lenient when familiar faces came back, pleading for just a little more… For those eschewing the reds Sacha Lichine’s epic rosé, Garrus 2011, was particularly delicious. A full review of the tasting and dinner wines will be provided by David Roberts MW.

On to the dinner and a quick note on the hotel. I thought the Savoy really outdid themselves this year. The recently redecorated River Rooms were a stunning back drop for the tasting, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful and the food was immaculate. It is a truly well-oiled machine that can deliver food of that quality to more than 300 people simultaneously. So bravo!

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The replete, “Claret-happy” crowd were highly receptive to the charms of Humphrey Butler officiating in the auction. Bidding was fast and furious, with particularly fierce competition for the trips to Bordeaux and Burgundy, the visit to Ch de Sours (donated by Martin and Nicolette Krajewski) and the Challacombe shoot (thanks to Paul Reynolds, Mark and Katie Denning). The week at Nikki Shale’s beautiful beachside house in Lamu raised more than ever before suggesting that fears of Somalian piracy are on the wane.

The Chairman has had an invitation to fly with the Blades, however, having been told by Allan Lamb that it was the most frightening thing he had ever done, Johnny is not certain he will be taking them up on their offer.

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Suffice to say that whether it was because the recession is well and truly over or, more likely, because of the amazing quality (and quantity) of the wines both at the tasting and at dinner, all records were broken. Over £300,000 was raised and we simply cannot thank everybody enough for their incredible generosity whether donating or bidding for wines and auction lots.

As Johnny says the only problem is that it sets a very high standard for the next Wine Dinner in February/March 2016…

In case anybody is interested here is the full menu and a bit more information about the charities.

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002 Magnum
Château d’Esclans Garrus Rosé 2011 Magnum

Pan-fried diver scallops with tomato-verbena jam, crispy rye bread, sea samphire and preserved lemon foam
Meursault Les Gruyaches Jean-Philippe Fichet 2009
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Supreme of guinea fowl with seared foie gras escalope, Savoy cabbage ragout, crispy potato disc and Marsala jus
Ch Léoville Las Cases 2ème Cru Classé St Julien 1985
Ch La Mission Haut Brion 1er Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan 1985

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Dark chocolate and Jaffa dome, salted caramel, Baileys ice-cream
Clarendelle Amberwine Monbazillac 2003

MacIntyre
Established in 1966 by Kenneth Newton Wright, the parent of a disabled child, MacIntyre has grown to become a leading national charity looking after 1000 children and adults with learning disabilities. They are very highly respected and provide learning, support and care at more than 120 MacIntyre services across the UK including two schools. It is a fantastic charity completely committed to setting the highest standards of care, dedicated to life-long learning and enriching lives.

Carefree Northants
Founded in 2011 by Laura Goedhuis, Bob Peacock and Fiona Powell all parents of a child with a learning disability. Through their own experiences they recognise the on-going dilemmas that families similar to theirs face from day to day. The charity was set up with the intention of enhancing the lives of adults with learning disabilities by offering advocacy and advice to guide them through their daily lives. They offer financial assistance and provide support and funds for respite breaks.

Families for Children
Based at Buckfastleigh in Devon it is the leading voluntary sector adoption agency in the South West, covering Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. They should place around 50 children, most of whom come from very troubled backgrounds nationwide, into secure family environments. The national breakdown rate on adoptions is about 25%, FFC’s runs at less than 5%. The key reason for this is that they provide life time support to families, who may well need advice, support or even a day off occasionally. The local authorities, who place the bulk of the “easiest” children, provide next to no post adoption support – which broadly explains their relative success. They need to raise around £300,000 pa over and above the adoption fees they receive to cover this service.