I went to my first UK wine trade lunch in 2000 or 2001. My then boss had sent me and a colleague (Big Phil) as our employer’s representatives “to introduce us to the trade”. The way he put it – and he remains a man with a habit of embellishing everything – made it seem as if we were about to join MI5, or organise some sort of bank job. I was in awe of the whole thing. And it was when I first met Lindsay Hamilton.
If this was as James Bond as it was made out to be then Lindsay was Blofeld: I wasn’t the only man there slightly frightened of him and, for years afterwards, I’d still be reluctant to take his calls: sell something to Lindsay for a grand a case and it would get 100 Parker points the next day and be worth twice that; buy something from him for five grand a case and by the time the fax confirming it has come through someone will have discovered that it contains horsemeat.
The UK wine trade is not short on egos, and there are still plenty of young bucks who think that they’re James Bond because they’ve sold a few cases of Lafite. But there are very few who really are the real deal – and they know who they are – and I can only think of one BSD in the trade these days. And he probably doesn’t read this, and he is a bit of a D to boot.
If you don’t get the BSD bit here’s the link. In the meantime, three bottles from the original:
What was the first wine/bottle that got you into the whole wine thing?
Bordeaux, of really not very good quality. What I liked was that there was choice , different qualities etc. This was when I was about twelve. There had always been a lot of talk about wine. My mother had drunk Ch Margaux 1929 amongst other greats, at my paternal grandparents in the early 50’s. My maternal Grandfather talking about Chambertin: “I forget the name of the place; I forget the name of the girl; but the wine was Chambertin” – Hilaire Belloc. However all the good stuff had been drunk but it gave me a thirst to know more.
What was the first wine/bottle that took you closer to your maker?
Latour 1945 in the 80’s. I described the tastes coming at you like Luke Skywalker being attacked with hundreds of bursting light bullets
What was the best wine/bottle you have had this year?
Chambertin Rousseau 1990: really quite rich, almost fat for Rousseau. I have tried Clos st Jacques 1990 which was truly fantastic – so balanced. For longer term, Romanee st Vivant DRC 2001 and if your boat is very large (push the boat out): La Tache 1999.
Thank you Mr Hamilton.