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Blind Wine Tasting: Practical studying part IV

Every week I head over to Monvinic, Barcelona’s largest international wine bar, to practice blind tasting. Typically this involves a flight of 6 wines, split equally between white and reds from all across the world. I’ve long been a believer that blind tasting is an incredibly useful study tool, and I’ve decided to track my sessions here in all their misery (mostly) and glory (very rarely!). As a result you may seem some confusing measurement terms as I am currently using the WSET Lexicon as a frame-work for my tasting notes partially trimmed down here for the purposes of brevity.

Monvic is open once again after the summer break, hurrah! With a little over 4 months until the Unit 3 exam, it seems like a good idea to get back practicing again. To ease myself in a little more easily, and also due to meeting a friend for lunch on the same day, I thought I’d do a quick 15 minute, 2 wine tasting. 1 white, 1 red, both mono-varietal. Whilst blind tasting isn’t an easy discipline, this should be about as easy as it gets!

White Wine

The wine has a pale lemon colour. On the nose there is a medium+ intensity of ripe citrus fruit, green apple, green pear, fresh stone fruits and a chalky, stony quality. A touch of white flowers and no discernible oak.

On the palate the wine is dry with high, bracing acidity, medium alcohol, a medium body and a medium+ intensity and finish. This tastes like either an incredibly young wine or a grape variety that naturally has a lot of natural acidity, although there is a nice texture to the wine; it certainly has some weight. Relatively neutral in terms of profile with a nice, fresh character and a gorgeous, saline finish, but as with the nose I couldn’t discern any obvious wine-making. Really delicious stuff but feels tight, like it’s being drank very young.

Guess: Godello from Valdeorras, Spain, from the 2014 vintage

Reality: Chardonnay from Chablis, France, from the 2014 vintage

Wine: Daniel Dampt and Fils Cote de Lechet 1er 2014

From a long lineage of vintners, Vincent Dampt continues the family tradition of excellence at Domaine Daniel Dampt et Fils, which was established by his father. The estate currently consists of 30 hectares, including 16 hectares of Chablis and 14 hectares of Chablis 1er Cru. The recently constructed cellar is equipped with stainless steel tanks which is intrinsic to the fresh, mineral style of Chablis produced here. The purchase of modern, powerful cellar equipment has enabled the group to increase its production of bottles, which now stands at 150,000 bottles per year.

Conclusions/Learning points: Gah. This is very much a case of thinking about something too much and coming to an overly obscure conclusion. Reading my tasting note back, it’s screaming Chablis. Prominent acidity, fresh citrus and green fruit flavours, no obvious oak but a decent weight with some texture… of course, Godello. Still, the profile matches for both, it’s just a case of playing the game a little bit and going with the more likely choice. On the positive side, this was a really delicious wine from a producer I hadn’t tried before. Really looking forward to finding more of his wines!

Red Wine

The wine has a pale cherry-red, ruby colour. On the nose there is a medium+ intensity of ripe red berries, currants and a hint of strawberry. Nicely perfumed, there’s some violet, floral notes here as well as some earthiness and just a touch of stalkiness – whole bunch fermentation? Hints of toast, pepper and a subtle char might be coming from old oak and there’s also a high toned, volatile aroma that lifts everything quite nicely. Very old world and slightly minimal intervention in style.

On the palate the wine is dry with medium+ acidity, medium ripe, firm tannins, medium+ alcohol, a medium+ body, a medium intensity and a medium finish. Whilst slightly generous on the nose, this is a leaner wine on the palate with some grip and bite to the tannins. Much leaner in terms of flavour profile as well, with that fresh berry fruit and herbal character coming to the fore. Still fresh and well balanced, but not at the same level as the Chablis before it.

Guess: Gamay from Beaujolais (Morgon cru), France, from the 2013 vintage

Reality: Gamay from Beaujolais (Morgon cru), France, from the 2013 vintage

Wine: Foillard Morgon Eponyme 2013

Jean Foillard is a disciple of Jules Chauvet, a noted enologist who believed in fashioning Beaujolais in an altogether different way from the modern standard of semi-carbonic maceration. Foillard’s 8ha (cultivated organically though not certified) include one of the best sites in the whole Beaujolais region, Morgon’s Côte du Py. Important to the style are low yields and very ripe grapes, which are subject to a long cool vinification, practically zero use of sulphur and minimal or no filtration.

Conclusions/Learning Points: Thrilled to nail this wine, particularly as I followed a very logical process to get there. Possible grape varieties included Gamay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, almost definitely old world, suggested by the firmness of the tannins and the lean/mineral flavours. Lack of a strong black pepper and/or smoked meat character made Syrah from Croze-Hermitage unlikely and the tannic structure and slight peppery note made it unlikely to be Pinot Noir, so Gamay it is. Morgon was a bit of a shot in the dark, I’ll admit but most of the more minimal interventionist styles I’ve tried have been from producers with land there, including of course, Foillard! Very happy to get one of these completely right, even if I messed up the Chablis. Onto a full tasting next week!

Wine Cuentista Newsletter – Edition 21 – September 2017

September: So it begins – the harvest is upon us! Spain is a vast, diverse country with regards to wine production and so unsurprisingly, there are various different stages of harvest. By this point, Cava grapes are already mid-way through harvesting as they tend to be picked slightly earlier to retain the high acidity that is prized for ageing potential in older wines and freshness in younger wines. A lot of white wines aiming to retain bright fruit flavours and high acidity will also be being picked, particularly in hot regions where the grapes can easily over-ripen and produce wines with unbalanced flavours and even some light reds, particularly Tempranillo may well undergo harvest this month. Vignerons and wine-makers alike will keep a wary eye on the sky, as excess rain during harvest can induce rots, fungi and often dilute the flavours they have worked so hard to nurture. Quality-minded producers will be spending a lot of money to hire trained pickers to gently harvest the grapes before transporting them in small, 15kg boxes to avoid crushing the grapes and losing precious flavours and aromas to oxidation. An entire years worth of effort comes down to these next few crucial months, as the saying goes: ‘It’s possible to make very bad wine with good grapes, but it’s impossible to make great wine with bad grapes!”

Hello Wine Lovers and welcome back! September is finally here and after a long, hot summer, I’m about ready to get back to wine tasting. With it being the first tastings of Maestrazgo Wine Club, I’m excited to be kicking off with some ‘discovery’ tastings – aka, showcasing some delicious new wines I’ve tasted over the last few months. We’ll have a tasting for the Old World wines and a separate one for the New World but remember that these are now available first through Wine Cuentista, so check them out here and reserve your spot. Aside from that, it’s time for an intense few months of studying ahead of my final exam for the WSET Diploma, ahead of a beautifully exam-less 2018. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the summer and hopefully I’ll see a few of you for a tasting soon!

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

14th September – Summer Discoveries: Old World – 10 spots available
28th September – Summer Discoveries: New World – 10 spots available

Articles: I probably spend too much of my time reading online articles about wine. However, as a result I can find and select a choice few to share – here are my three favourites from last month!

1. ‘Italian Wine – 3000 years older than we thought’ by Chris Mercer. One of the bigger discoveries in the wine world recently was a series of caves in Sicily containing, what is believed to be, wine-making equipment. Given that this dates back to 4,000BC, it’s a big change in the common belief that the ancient Greeks brought wine-making to Italy and opens the door to a whole new range of possibilities. As a history geek, I’m very curious to see the final report on these findings and who knows what may be uncovered as a result? http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/oldest-italian-wine-study-375334-375334/

2. ‘How to make money in the wine business’ – by Felicity Carter. A large part of the reason I’ve chosen to study with the WSET over CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) is that the industry of wine interests me far more than the correct, formal service of it. As a result, I love anything that gets to grips with the realities of the industry as if there’s one thing we’re not short on, it’s romantic wine-related stories and quasi-science. Whilst not exactly ground-breaking stuff, Felicity Carter makes an important point about the financial realities of producing wine and how some in the industry get carried away with the fantasy of it all. Here’s hoping for some more of the same transparency on other financial/business related issues within the industry! https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/how-make-money-wine-business

3. ‘Changes afoot in Rioja’ by Yolanda Ortiz de Arri. I’ve linked a few articles related to the recent turmoil in Rioja, we’ve spoken about it in tastings and I’m actually digging into it a little more deeply for an article myself, but Yolanda does a good job, as always, of summarising the more important points as well as getting some local reaction. Reaction to what, exactly? Well, the tiny step forward that Rioja has taken as a region, allowing for both regional and village names to be appended to Rioja labels meaning greater specificity for consumers and the start of our understanding of Rioja terroir. Sounds great doesn’t it? Naturally, there’s a catch… http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-265-village-wines-in-rioja-will-be-based-on-the-location-of-the-winery

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; I rarely purchase anything over 30-40 euros a bottle and more commonly you’ll find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range.

Bohorquez Reserva 2007

I tried this for the first time only a few days ago and I have to take my hat off to this small but dedicated team of vignerons – the wine is absolutely delicious. Ribera del Duero has become a tricky region for me, with many of the wines simply trying for too much and missing the target as a result, but this hit the spot nicely. Bohorquez was only founded in 1999 but stylistically, it’s leaning towards the Pesquera/Vega Sicilia way of making wine, which is to say a longer maceration and ageing process, restrained alcohol levels (14%) and considerably less of the overt, ripe fruit flavours so typical of the region.

Yet there is a good concentration of slightly dried red and black fruits here, cedar, coffee, dill, leather, tobacco and earth. This wine is in a really good place, with a lovely spectrum of flavours and a wonderfully elegant texture. Restrained and classic, with that smoky, leathery finish I so enjoy!

Social Media
These newsletters only come out once a month and there is a limit on space for content. If you use Social Media and want to keep up with regular wine updates and occasional rambles, feel free to connect with me on any of the following platforms.

Facebook: Wine Cuentista
Twitter: @Wine_Cuentista
Instagram: wine_cuentista

That’s it for this months newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it and please, if you have any suggestions or things you would like to see get in touch! Either respond to me here or email to fintankerr@winecuentista.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

Barcelona by the Glass: Eldiset

Established: 2012

Style of establishment: Wine Shop

Price by the glass – €3.90 to €4.90

Price by the bottle – €18 to €69

Address – Carrer Antic de Sant Joan, 3, 08003 Barcelona

Phone number – 932 68 19 87

Opening Hours – 7pm – 2am, Monday to Sunday

One of my favourite wine bars over the last two years has really come into its own recently; Eldiset, formally known as Disset Graus, was opened in 2012 by the Cuasnicú family and since then, has gone from strength to strength. The name Disset Graus is literally ’17 degrees’ in Catalan, so named due to the preferred temperature of serving mature red wine. Due to a problem with registering the name, the bar changed to Eldiset, a play on the same name, and started to become well known for its excellent wine, cocktails and tapas.

However, the big change for Eldiset didn’t come with the name, but with the focus on Catalan products. Previously, wine was served here from a few, disparate places such as Spain, Argentina and France with nothing linking the food, wine and concept together. Then in November 2013, Alex Sanchez joined as the head sommelier and brought with him a strong passion for Catalan wines as well as formal training from CETT, the university for tourism, hospitality and gastronomy. Now, there’s not a lot of bars and restaurants in Barcelona that employ sommeliers with any level of salary as the wine culture here is still quite embryonic and there’s not a lot of disposable income sloshing around the city in general. A strong move then by Eldiset, given the circumstances, and one that’s paid off. It didn’t come as much as a surprise to discover that Alex’s mentor in the world of Catalan wines is Miguel Figini, a local expert in Catalan wines, co-founder of a Catalan wine school and a lovely man in general. It goes a long way to explain Alex’s passion for locally produced wines and thankfully, this rubs off on Eldiset in a very obvious way!

The Wine List

Every glass or bottle of wine in Eldiset is sourced from one of the 10 wine producing Denominación d’Origen’s located within Catalunya. This is a smart move by Eldiset for a few reasons. First and foremost, there’s an awful lot of delicious wine in Catalunya and for a bar with around 60 references by the glass and by the bottle, there’s simply no need to move outside of these 10 regions. From the concentrated, powerful wines of Priorat to vibrant Cava from Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and all manner of innovative wines from the Penedes, wine lovers in Cataluyna are somewhat spoilt for choice! Secondly, and all politics aside, it makes sense to drink locally. You can connect with local cultures and grape varieties, as well as having the option to go and visit the winery on a day trip should you so wish to. It’s also a way of sustaining local business, something that is becoming increasingly important in a busy, cosmopolitan city like Barcelona.

The actual list itself changes every 6 months or so, completely changing the wines available by the glass and most of the wines by the bottle. There’s typically 15-20 wines available by the glass and 30-40 by the bottle, with a separate section for ‘natural’ wines, or wines produced in a minimal intervention style. The wines are a nice collection of modern and traditional wines, with a mixture of most Catalan wine regions. The wines at the lower end command a slightly higher mark-up but are well chosen and represent good value for money, whilst the 2-3 pricier bottles are personal favourites and also some of the very best wines available in Catalunya. 5 Partides, Teixar and Clos Mogador? Sign me up! Most of the wines command around a 40-100% mark-up from retail pricing but there are one or two ‘bargains’ for those seeking it out. It’s very rare to see anyone spending any amount of money on a bottle of Cava, and so they still have a few bottles of Recaredo’s superb Familia Reserva 2005 available for €50 – €5 less than retail price. Take advantage of their very generous 25% discount for bottles bought and taken away and you have yourself a veritable bargain!

Top picks from their current line-up:

Cava – Recaredo Familiar Reserva 2005 – As mentioned above; expensive but stunning. Old vine Xarel.lo and Macabeo aged for 10 years on its lees before disgorgement; a special wine to be enjoyed at leisure and make sure to do so in a white wine glass; the beauty of this wine will be lost in a flute.

White – Raventos I Blanc Silencis 2015 – At the lower end of the price scale at €22 euros a bottle, this is a delicious, vibrant and incredibly fresh expression of Xarel.lo from one of the most exciting projects in Catalunya at the moment.

Red – Cal Batllet Diatra 2013 – The baby brother of 5 Partides, at €23 euros a bottle in a restaurant this is terrific value. Smoky, dark and very Priorat. Perhaps not an ideal companion for the summer months, but the air-conditioned interior of Eldiset allows a temporary reprieve from the heat, so why not!

The Space

Eldiset is a small but organised bar, split evenly between the front and the back. Very simply, the front is designed for not much than 30 persons and has more of a casual approach; high stools set around the bar itself, 3-4 small tables and one larger table. The back by comparison is where you’d want to go for a longer experience such as dinner, as the seating is lower, more comfortable and the tables set a touch more formally. In total I wouldn’t imagine that the whole bar seats much more than 50-60 persons when completely full, but late at night it’s common to see additional groups standing by the bar waiting for a table to free up, so it can get quite crowded! The décor is modern but really quite restrained, with lots of wood, cream colours and mercifully in Barcelona, air conditioning. The (very) small kitchen is behind the bar itself and the space has been maximised really as much as possible.

The Food

Now we come onto the other major part of Eldisets success; excellent food at reasonable prices, served unpretentiously. The star of the show here are the ‘Torradas’ or ‘Tostadas’, which is essentially a flat, crispy bread with different toppings. Eldiset serve a whopping 15 different styles of these torradas, with each being a carefully constructed flavour combination. Personal favourites include the guacamole, parmesan cheese and chilli peppers torrada, or for a sweet-touch try the raspberry jam, blue cheese and green apple torrada, finished with roasted crushed nuts. They’re served in pairs on a black slate and are ideal for sharing, so if you go with a friend/partner, order two and try both!

Aside from that, there is a smaller section for more traditional foods including plates of Iberian ham, cheese, octopus and other items. Whilst these can be very nice, the delicious torradas for me are what defines Eldiset and also represents the best value for money. Having said that, the salmon tartar with ginger is quite lovely and pairs beautifully with a glass of Sumoll. There’s also a pairing menu option that I haven’t had the pleasure of trying yet, serving 4 courses with 4 glasses of wine for €39.

Conclusion

Eldiset is probably the best wine bar in the Born at the moment, and certainly one of the best in the city. Now it’s becoming better known it’s increasingly more difficult to wander in and grab a space at the bar, but it’s well worth booking a table, bringing a friend or two and turning into the focus of the evening itself. There’s not many places where a combination of excellent, well priced local wine and food go together so readily and when friends visit from the UK, it’s often one of the first places I take them to. I’m already looking forward to visiting for an evening this August and as always, I get particularly excited when it comes to the changing of their wine list. Keep your eyes peeled this Autumn for some new and delicious wines coming to their menu. Make sure to read the tips below and go enjoy an evening at Eldiset!

Tips

Eldiset is not a large place and the tables book up quickly, especially those at the back. Make sure to call and book a table at least a day in advance to avoid disappointment; reservations are only taken by phone but fear not, the staff all speak a good level of English.

Failing the above, go early. Eldiset gets very busy from 9pm onwards but from 7-9, it tends to be quite subdued. Ideal for an early dinner and better yet, to interact with the staff a little.

This is likely to be a tip in every entry I make into Barcelona By the Glass, but make sure to ask for help if you’re not sure about the wine, food or pairing. Not every member of staff has formal wine education but they all know the wines they serve well, as well as which food to match it with.

The first time I visited Eldiset and went to use the bathroom, I assumed the door was locked as it looks like a sliding door and…well.. it wouldn’t slide. Don’t be silly like me and give it a good push instead. Looks can be deceiving!

As is so often the case, the more expensive wines tend to be the better value when ordering by the bottle, with a much lower mark-up vs retail prices. If you’re going to order a bottle to share, consider trading up a bit and getting more bang for your buck.

Wine Cuentista Newsletter – Edition 20 – August 2017

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 20 – August 2017

August: A blisteringly hot month in Spain, which explains why most sensible people take the month off and hurl themselves into the sea. However, for immobile vines it is a particularly important month due to the phenomenon of veraison. This is the onset of berry ripening and also when the pigmentation starts to form in red grapes, leading to the distinction in colour between the different types of grapes. Red grapes will start to turn a light berry-red colour, whilst white grapes will start to turn yellow and golden. This is a key part of the life cycle of the vine and the vignerons will be hard at work to ensure it goes smoothly. Leaves will be cut away to expose grape clusters to extra sunshine and sometimes bunches of grapes will be removed in a process known as ‘green harvesting’ in order to concentrate sugars in the remaining bunches. Some producers will already begin harvesting this month, with 2017 set to be one of the earliest harvests ever recorded in Spain!

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 20th edition of The Wine Cuentista Newsletter! It’s our final month of the summer break and that means no Maestrazgo Wine Club tasting, but keep an eye out for an announcement coming in the next few days about some changes on that front. I don’t want to give too much away, just to say that MWC is coming back better than ever before!

Articles: I probably spend too much of my time reading online articles about wine. However, as a result I can find and select a choice few to share – here are my three favourites from last month!

Beyond Bling: Wither Fine Wine? By Christian Holthausen. I really enjoyed this one, a very well thought-out article indeed. It starts as an article about fine wine and turns into a painfully accurate view of modern consumerism and the pitfalls thereof. Brilliantly written. https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/beyond-bling-whither-fine-wine

‘What not to drink sparkling wine from a Champagne glass’ by Miquel Hudin. I’ve made a point of drinking good quality sparkling wine from a glass for a while now, much to the consternation of a couple of wine producers, for the reasons that Miquel details in his article above. This is a particularly good read for anyone coming to Maestrazgo Wine Club as it’ll give you a hint as to one of the structural changings we’ll be making to the upcoming tastings. https://wineonsix.com/why-not-to-drink-sparkling-wines-in-a-champagne-glass/

‘Sweet talk on wine’ by Robert Joseph. A simple but thought provoking piece about the levels of sugar in wine and its relationship to wine quality. A lot of entry level wines have elevated levels of residual sugar to make the wine more palatable to a broader audience, as well as paving over some of the more obvious short-comings of the wine itself. Is that, in itself, necessarily a bad thing? Hrm. It’s not to my palate and I would certainly mark it down as sloppy wine-making, but is that because I was taught to see it like that. What do you think? https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/sweet-talk-wine

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; you’ll commonly find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range.

This was a bottle I'd been holding onto for a while; Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendage Tardive 2001. Produced by Trimbach, one of the greatest Alsatian producers with a history going back to 1626, this is likely the best bottle of Riesling I've ever had. You can see the dramatic amber colour from the picture but the stunning aromas of orange marmalade, honeyed orchard fruits, cinnamon, marzipan and slate can only be imagined. Rich, not sweet, and unbelievably fresh! Drank over the two hours it took Roger Federer to win his 8th Wimbledon title; check out winecuentista.com for a full write-up! @trimbach #wine #france #riesling #alsace #lateharvest #instagood #instadaily #photo #wimbledon #federer #pairing #wineoclock #wineoftheday #delicious #dramatic #amber #2001 #best #history #travel

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Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001: Ok, so definitely not in the 6-25 euro range but the single best bottle of Riesling I’ve ever tried. The tasting notes are above as part of my instagram profile, but for a full write up of Trimbach and an insight as to why I opened such a special wine, check out this post on Wine Cuentista.

Wine Facts

Some fun and interesting facts about the world of wine. Terminology, myths and FAQs; as science becomes more ingrained in our industry, we discover new and exciting realities every day!

“What exactly is a sommelier?” – A subject open to debate; essentially an old French word used to describe someone who served wine, and hopefully knew a bit about it, in a restaurant environment. This would typically be someone with no formal training and who simply worked in wine because they enjoyed it. Now across the world, there are sommelier schools, sommelier programs and even documentaries following the lives of sommeliers, some who work in a restaurant and some who don’t, making the whole thing very confusing indeed. Essentially, you’ll never get anyone to agree on the definition but it can roughly be used to talk about anyone knowledgeable about wine who works in a customer-facing environment.

“I want to learn more about wine formally, where should I start?” – I’m a big believer in formal education for setting a foundation of knowledge. There are many institutions you can study with but the largest, and most respected, in the world is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, or WSET for short. I’m currently studying the final level with this institution over two years and it has enriched my understanding of wine immensely, as well as giving me the stepping stone I need to begin the Masters of Wine program in 2019. A friend of mine, Sharon Levey, is a WSET educator in Barcelona. For now, if you’d like to find out more about her and the courses she runs, check it out here! http://www.winecoursesbcn.com/

‘Tannins’ – These are an important structural component of wine, mainly found in red wines due to the extraction from the skins of the grapes, although some can also be added through oak ageing. They are very important in the process of ageing red wine, as well as being important for colour stability. They are often associated with bitterness and astringency, but when ripe and well integrated contribute enormously to the pleasant structure and feel of the wine in your mouth. If you ever want to find what bitter tannins taste like; leave a tea-bag soaking for far longer than it should be – that is tannic bitterness. Tasting tannins in wine is difficult as it tends to be a textural component more than a flavour one. If you want to focus on them, try swirling the wine around your mouth and you should get a sensation at the front of your lips and around your gums, where the tannins make themselves most present. It goes without saying that a large part of skilled red wine making is the handling and presentation of the natural tannins, with ripe, smooth or finely grained tannins the goal.

Social Media

These newsletters only come out once a month and there is a limit on space for content. If you use Social Media and want to keep up with regular wine updates and occasional rambles, feel free to connect with me on any of the following platforms.

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

That’s it for this months Newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it and please, if you have any suggestions or things you would like to see get in touch! Either respond to me here or email to fintankerr@winecuentista.com . I hope everyone has a lovely summer and I will see you all for more tasting in September!

Fintan Kerr

Special moments and special bottles: Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling, VT, 2001

I grew up playing and watching sports, and although I stopped playing anything competitively a few years ago (rugby), I remain a fan and will tune in to watch my favourite athletes and teams compete whenever possible. When I was very young, the athletes I admired became sources of inspiration to me. I would wake up in the morning to work-out as a young rugby player and try to emulate Johnny Wilkinson’s determination and structured approach, as well as his commitment to laying his body on the line. Training to join the military when I was in my late teens, I would think about the athletes who never gave up despite the odds and always pushed through to the bitter end, often victorious by virtue of grinding their opponents down.

As a man in my late 20’s and having been through the stage of life where you realise that you’re now older than many of the sporting stars you admire, I draw inspiration in a slightly different way. My work-outs are now more aimed at staying fit and healthy than packing on muscle or stripping fat, I’m more interested in setting achievable targets, hitting them and moving on rather than trying to be the absolute strongest, fastest and fittest guy in the gym. The inspiration I draw now, is more about how athletes conduct themselves professionally in times of stress and defeat, and there is no-one I admire more in this regard than Roger Federer.

I first discovered tennis in 2003, watching Mark Philippoussis and his enormous serve throughout Wimbledon; the beauty of school holidays meant I could watch the entire tournament from my own living room. He made it all the way to the final where he was beaten, to my great disappointment, by a young Swiss guy by the name of Roger Federer. It wasn’t even that close, finishing in 3 sets with two tie-breaks and Roger played him off Centre Court that day, the court that has largely gone on to define his career. Over the next 14 years, Roger has had the most accomplished career of any male tennis player to date and is, to my mind, the single greatest tennis player the world has ever seen.

What’s understated, however, is the endless hours of training, practice and effort he puts in. Commentators make a big fuss about the work-rate of Murray, Nadal and Djokovic and yet Federer has a professional career spanning 19 years, winning tournaments both large and small, charity events and also suffering some crushing losses on the way. I’ve suffered through so many of his defeats, often on clay to Rafael Nadal, and yet he never gave up. He’s never once retired during a game in over 1000 matches, an outrageous statistic that speaks to the courage of the man. Even more than that, regardless of how tough his opponent was, how crushing the defeats and the niggling injuries along the way, he always composed himself with dignity and humility, winning the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award 12 times.

Watching Federer come back from a serious injury and winning not only the Australian Open but then Wimbledon this year has been awe inspiring from a sports fans point of view, thrilling from the viewpoint of a Roger Federer fan and deeply satisfying for myself on a very personal level. Last Sunday I watched Federer dominate Centre Court once again for an unprecedented 8th Wimbledon title, cheered on by his wife and 4 children, 95% of the crowd and millions around the world. It feels like a full circle experience, casting me back the days of being a child in a mans body and wanting to push it to the limit, watching Federer win his first ever Major.

Even though I’m never going to be a professional athlete, or anywhere close to it, I will be a sports fan for my entire life. Whilst the motivation I used to draw from my heroes gave me the strength to get up at 5am and run like the wind, or commit myself to a painful tackle or lift more and more weight, I now hope it gives me the strength to tackle some of lifes more mundane challenges. How to achieve my personal ambitions whilst giving time back to my family, how to cope with the endless set backs and frustrations that come with modern life, how to see the world from my own point of view and how to accept it all with grace and a smile, especially in moments of defeat.

To pair with the momentous occasion of Federer’s 8th Wimbledon title, I watched the whole match with a stunning bottle of Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001.

This was a bottle I'd been holding onto for a while; Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendage Tardive 2001. Produced by Trimbach, one of the greatest Alsatian producers with a history going back to 1626, this is likely the best bottle of Riesling I've ever had. You can see the dramatic amber colour from the picture but the stunning aromas of orange marmalade, honeyed orchard fruits, cinnamon, marzipan and slate can only be imagined. Rich, not sweet, and unbelievably fresh! Drank over the two hours it took Roger Federer to win his 8th Wimbledon title; check out winecuentista.com for a full write-up! @trimbach #wine #france #riesling #alsace #lateharvest #instagood #instadaily #photo #wimbledon #federer #pairing #wineoclock #wineoftheday #delicious #dramatic #amber #2001 #best #history #travel

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Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001

Trimbach are one of the great producers in Alsace, France, with a wine-making history stretching back to 1626 when Jean Trimbach registered as a citizen of the region. Fast forward almost 400 years and the winery is a thriving, quality based operation producing somewhere in the region of 1.2 million bottles a year, the majority of which is affordable, good quality varietal wines, the sort of thing that is perfect for introducing students and wine lovers to the region.

Whilst Trimbach produce a broad range of different varietal wines, their speciality is without a doubt Riesling, typified by Clos St. Hune, their flagship wine produced from the Rosacker vineyard. At €150-300 a pop, vintage dependent, it’s not exactly the most accessible of their wines but fortunately, their other highly acclaimed Riesling is. I picked up two bottles of Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001 for a song at Monvinic Store in 2016, one which was opened as part of my new years resolution and the other to be opened on a special occasion; thanks for providing that, Roger! The Frederic Emile Cuvee is only made in certain years from the Osterberg and Geisberg vineyards, with vines averaging 45 years of age and to find bottles of Vendange Tardive (late harvest) Frederic Emile, from an outstanding harvest, well, some people get all the luck!

The wine had a gorgeous, dramatic amber colour flecked with gold and you could almost smell the aromas wafting out of the glass. Ripe citrus fruits, orange marmalade and a whole series of honeyed stone-fruits, cinnamon and even a touch of marzipan. Trimbach are famously classic in their approach to Riesling, opting for concentration and verve over power, shown beautifully in this wine. Despite being 12.5% alcohol and late-harvest, the residual sugar is more a suggestion of sweetness than anything else, balanced with a lovely, refreshing acidity that propels the rich flavours into a very, very long finish. The energy and drive from a 16 year old wine was phenomenal and if I had more bottles, I may have considered leaving them for another 10 years or so! Probably the single best bottle of Riesling I’ve so far had the pleasure of trying and a great way to round off a special day. Life has its moments!

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