Watching live, the rowers at Eton Dorney yesterday were so inspiring. The world’s best, live, right in front of me, mortal watching gods and goddesses.
But afterwards, at lunch in the Windsor restaurant where Peppino Battochi is celebrating an incredible 50 years of fussing round customers like me (who must now, of course, eaten half a century’s worth of his pasta) I thought “it’s not just sportsmen”.
“Certainly, winemakers are like athletes”, I thought. Somewhat predictably.
But … yes! They are. Pretty damned fit, mostly. They too, dream obsessively of winning gold medals. They too, dedicate their lives to the pursuit of perfection. Even those whose employers confine them to churning out huge volumes of boring branded product for Big Retail. They too, still dream … what could they do if they could save that small parcel – or parcelle – of stressed- looking grapes from that little patch at the very top of vineyard with the very white soil? If they got just a few barrels or so. They’d be up all night, after work, nursing those barrels like newborn babes.
Up early every day. Not surprising they are fit. Years, they’d devote before carefully wrapping their creation in a nice bottle and with a mixture of pride and fear, offering it up for the world’s judgement.
Have they conjured magic from the earth? Or not?
I set up Red Heads – our winery in Australia – in an unusual way. I didn’t tell the winemakers who came to use its bare facilities what to make. I let them aim as high as they wanted. I didn’t promise to accept their wines. But in the end I accepted quite a lot. For they made wines I thought were up there with the world’s best.
Red Heads is a Center For Excellence, an Academy for wine stars of the future. Just try one bottle. You’ll see … taste world’s best at prices equivalent to the most basic stuff on any restaurant wine list.
Just pick one or two of these and add to your next order.
Remember my simple guarantee? Well, take it up a notch or two. These are great wines. If you don’t find them great – if you think they’re just ‘nice’ – then ask for your money back.
All McLaren Vale, 2009. All tiny numbers of bottles. All at perfection right now.