3 Sept 2009

Bars to Bibendum

WHAT an odd day yesterday turned out to be. I had a good lunch at her Majesty’s pleasure in a restaurant behind bars (which ironically turned out not to have one) followed by black tie dinner and dance in Europe’s largest ballroom. For the latter, I was guest of Dan Coward, not only the alleged great nephew of Noel Coward, but marketing man behind uber-indie, Bibendum Wines (see his blog). The occasion: the 26th annual IWC (International Wine Challenge) awards, apparently broadcast to 389million worldwide. Alas, amidst an almost bruising amount of clapping, Bibendum proved to be a bridesmaid when it came to official recognition. But stakes were high. For example, turning the judges heads for the Corporate Social Responsibility category, the Co-op had built an actual school...
Our table included Bibendum’s directors, one of whom took a final month’s salary in wine at another firm and panniers of interesting bottles. My favourite was Calera’s Ryan Vineyard ‘05 from Mount Harlan. Despite his belief that all roads lead to the Rhône, Coward and I loved this limestone grown, Californian Pinot Noir. Made by the tennis loving, Versace obsessed, Josh Jensen, like a limbo dancer, it avoided reaching too much alcoholic heat.
Named IWC Personality of the Year, writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke proved the most riveting speaker, promoting what has become an un-PC message: wine is pleasure. Clarke said, ‘I’m fed up with being told alcohol is not about getting lit-up…in our Big Adventure, the hairy one [James May] and I tried to recruit new consumers.’
For more information, including the results, see: http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com