Girls’ Night – 67 Pall Mall

Social Media has been getting a lot of bad press lately but if any of these journalists were any good, they’d be sharing both sides of the story. Yes, there are trolls, perverts, terrorists and I don’t know what else on popular sites such as Instagram and Twitter but there’s also an option to block and crack on. The positive side of Social Media is that it connects like-minded individuals, helps creates endless possibilities, it seeks out some of the rarest cases and makes people feel less alone and it builds great friendships. I say like-minded but I have plenty of Instagram friends who I love and support we share totally opposite views on most things, it’s a great place and used in the right way, makes us sharpened, more open-minded people.

So, this wine blog has been going for a while now. The first post was on the 11th June two years ago which I find quite remarkable really. To think how much wine I’ve consumed since then! Since 2017 the blog has had over 50,000 visitors and I hope at least some of them have gone and found a wine they’ve enjoyed after reading one of my silly posts. Anyway, it wasn’t until recently that I decided to start yet another Instagram account, alongside my personal page and my sausage dogs, I’m quite the manager now. It’s been a great success, and I’m not talking in terms of likes or followers but the quality of these people that decided to click follow.

Which brings me to Girls’ Night…organised by the one and only Tatiana Livesey who to me from the outside looking in was a well-known wine professional with a WSET Diploma. But Tatiana also describes herself as a Riesling fanatic, Lustau Sherry award winner and Chief mum to the most gorgeous twin boys and little girl. Tatiana herself is the most glamorous and youthful wine fuelled yummy mummy that I have ever met, I’m still struggling to figure out how she fits it all in. From Instagram and the wine world, Tatiana introduced me to Effi Tsournava, a wine lover and fellow blogger who is on the Louis Roederer team. Sadly, Agatha Pereira couldn’t make it this time but I’m learning that Agatha is right in the mix of the wine world and a very passionate blind taster!

We decided to meet on the 1st March at 67 Pall Mall. After being spoilt for weather recently it managed to hold steady and silk skirts took favour over jeans in the balmy double figures of dusk. London was as usual, a hive of activity. It was that hour just before the shows are on so every restaurant from chinese to chippy was rammed full. I slipped through the doors of 67 feeling a little out of place but I was made welcome right away that any fear totally dissipated. The place is just teeming with people happy to share their knowledge, they all just love wine.

After making my way to the top floor I was handed an electronic wine menu. They use the Coravin system a lot at 67 Pall Mall, in fact I’ve never seen it used so much in my life but this means you have access to lots of finer wines at by the glass prices. For someone like me, this is heaven. I think if anything, it’s what Coravin had in mind when they invented the mechanism. I scrolled through not really knowing which direction to go in, with so much choice (500 wines or so by the glass) I thought, that £1000+ membership really is worth it.

I read a little bit about 67 Pall Mall in The Telegraph a long time ago, the whole thing is the result of a problem I can only imagine having myself.
“I had a wine problem. Not that sort of a wine problem. I had too much of it. More than I could drink,” the founder, Grant Ashton told The Telegraph.

Wines will be bought by Ronan Sayburn, not just from the traditional areas but also interesting gems from Greece, byways of France, everywhere, but they will also be plundered from the cellars of Ashton and his investors. Remember, this whole business started because Ashton realised that over years of investing in wine en primeur and accumulating bottles for a cellar, he had amassed more wine than he could ever drink. And it seems he’s not the only one.

“We asked the members who have already signed up if they had any wine they would be interested in adding to that pool and what they came back with was worth about £50 million.”

This figure ought to cause consternation in certain areas of the wine trade. For prospective members of 67 Pall Mall, it’s great news.

You get the idea? It’s a wine lovers paradise. So anyway, I started with a Swiss wine. I’m a huge fan whether by sense or sentimentality I’m not really sure but I chose the 2012 Humagne Rouge, Maitre De Chais for my first glass.

It was beautiful, but since WSET I’ve decided I ought to be more regimented in my descriptions of wine. So let’s start with this wine is ruby with medium intensity on the nose. Hints of earthy red fruits and a slight muskiness of tannins. However, it’s so fresh and rounded with those red verging on dark fruits coming through, somehow both floral and animal combined. Only imported to the UK by Alpine Wines currently, the Swiss hold on to most of their wine sadly.

Almost as soon as I’d finished, Tatiana wafted up the stairs all silk skirt and bouncing beauty. Tatiana is actually a member at 67 Pall Mall meaning she has a cellar there and I think it’s a bit like her second home.

Moments later she was followed by Effi who has the glossiest hair in the world and just the perfect Greek olive complexion. I am sure even the toughest London winter couldn’t dull Effi’s Grecian sparkle.

Tatiana requested a bottle from her cellar and asked the Sommelier if we could taste it blind. Fortunately he either didn’t hear that part of forgot and served it straight up because I would NEVER have guessed Tasmania for a sparkling wine. Never ever ever and yet if you google ‘Tasmanian sparkling wine‘ they’re everywhere, they’re doing a great job, add it to your list! It does make sense thinking about the location and you know, Australia, but it’s just something I haven’t come across until now.

Arras, `E.J. Carr` Late Disgorged, Tasmania, Australia, 2002

What a treat this golden sparkling artistry was. So delicious on the nose, blossom, Narcissus but balanced by citrus notes and the mushroom acetic character you’d expect from the traditional method. High in acidity, strong toasty brioche notes, honey, remarkably fresh.

While we were enjoying this bottle and getting to know each other, a friend of Tatiana’s came over to invite her to try some big serious Napa reds. I love New World wines, I like what they’re doing and the money they’re spending on oak, especially in Napa. With expensive oak comes expensive wines and Napa wines have high price tags these days when they’re as outstanding as you’d expect.

PerUs ‘Kyla’, Napa Valley, USA 2015

First thing I’d like to say is the bottle was unusually heavy so that’s not going to help the price tag is it. You can buy this from Hedonism Wines for a mere £400 if you’d like to. Hopefully it will go onto the wine list at 67 Pall Mall and in time, be available by Coravin with a less anxiety inducing price tag. Price aside, it really is delicious. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon it’s about as big as they get but thanks to the Merlot, so so drinkable. The toasty oak from new French barrels gives it that meal in your mouth creme de cassis note and all round it’s just an extremely well-made wine.

At 14.9% and a bottle of sparkling wine down we thought it might be a good idea to order some food. Tatiana and I decided to share the rib-eye which came with a foamy Bernaise sauce that was to die for and Effi chose the monkfish which looked scrumptious. We also ordered some sapid padron peppers, can’t forget about them!

Now, the sommeliers absolutely love their job and I’d say they know the wine list backwards. So, we gave our trust to them and asked for various blind tastings throughout supper. I ended up with a Stellenbosch Shiraz and Tatiana’s was from Washington. We both guessed warm climates but it wasn’t easy to pinpoint Washington, there is some great stuff coming out of there. If you’d like to read a bit more about Washington, click here for a tasting I went to a while ago at The Old Bridge.

Supper out of the way we decided to choose a wine for each other… I picked an Alsatian Riesling for Tatiana, she chose a Chardonnay I think for Effi and Effi picked out a Greek red for myself. The sommelier’s also provided us with a mystery white to identify. A very pronounced honey coloured floral bombshell that actually smelt of hand cream, I’d bathe in it. We went from Viognier to but what if it’s just a Chardonnay but all of this was just discussion, we knew it was a Riesling all along. “It’s always Riesling,” Effi and Tatiana simultaneously announced, and I will be holding on to that for my next blind tasting.

To finish, we had to guess three different sweet wines that were all heavenly. Here they are…

If you know, you know, isn’t that what they say? Here we have an Eiswein, a Madeira and a Douloufakis, a sweet wine from Greece of course! I think the Eiswein was probably my favourite, it was a pudding in itself.

So there we have it. After some amazing food, including the padron peppers, then the brilliant company, exceptional service and I can’t even begin to describe the quality of all the wine, it truly was a terrific evening in London.

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