So. What can you say about Mr Tim Atkin MW? Quite a lot as it goes, but two things stand out to me. Firstly, anyone who is reviewing barrel samples of grand cru Burgundy one day, then talking about Picpoul de Pinet on Sunday Kitchen the next, is pretty impressive as far as scope is concerned.
Secondly, I have never encountered anyone with such a nose for technical faults in a wine. I have witnessed the man sniff a fault in a bottle that had got past me (easy enough on the right day), the man selling the wine (probably the same), the UK Burgundy Authority (getting quite tricky now) and the bloke that made it (bit of licence here but you get the idea). Tim can probably sniff out Brettanomyces from fifty yards or so, and won’t be shy about telling you about it.
I thank Mr Atkin for his answers:
1) What was the first wine/bottle that got you into the whole wine thing?
I was the bar treasurer at University but conspicuously failed to develop an interest in wine, as I preferred beer and whisky at the time. It was a year abroad in Avignon in 1983 (I did a French degree) that introduced me to proper wine for the first time. I remember drinking a Vieux Télégraphe, but I’m not sure what the vintage was. So Châteauneuf was my first glimpse of proper wine. Even then, I didn’t think about working in wine until the chance arose to write for Wine & Spirit as an editorial assistant. I still have a soft spot for Châteauneuf in particular and the wines of the Rhône in general.
2) What was the first wine/bottle that took you closer to your maker?
1961 Château La Fleur Pétrus. My birth year. It was opened for me by Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners at his house. Still fresh, low in alcohol (at least by modern standards) and so long on the palate that I could still taste it the next morning. I’m more of a Burgundy than Bordeaux man, but that remains one of the great bottles of my life.
3) What was the best wine/bottle you have had this year?
I’m lucky enough to taste a lot of very good wines, both from barrel and in bottle. (Cue fits of jealousy.) Some times you know you’t tasted something sublime almost as soon as it’s finished fermenting. I felt that about the 2010 Vieux Château Certan (tasted in 2011) and this year I felt the same way about the 2010 La Tâche from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The wine will be beyond my price range, I fear, but I’d love to own a bottle to drink on my 60th or 70th birthdays. When it’s special, red Burgundy is unbeatable.
Thank you again: www.timatkin.com