It is a bit over the top, to give Laithwaite a CBE. Certainly that will be said. But I would never be so ungrateful as to say it myself. I’m just totally thrilled … but embarrassed a bit. I had no idea. When the OHMS envelope came, I thought “speeding fine”.
And I was in Normandy a month ago, going round the landing beaches with three old friends from school. Surprised at the crowds, but encouraged by the sight of how many thousands of young people from every country were there too. Then, reading James Holland’s book ‘Normandy ‘44’ you learn the truly graphic details. Our parent’s generation; what they went through compared to our cushy post-war life! And they never spoke about it. Derek Dowsett, like a second dad to me, was a Beachmaster on Sword. I asked, but never got a word. And they decorate me!
Tony’s 2019 Tasting Tour
I’ve started the 2019 Tasting Tour. Pour and Bore, some call it. This time I’ve picked wines to do with significant incidents in my ‘Direct’ book. (Just out!)
I start them with a glass of Windsor Great Park Sparkling. (Now more appropriate than I had thought.) I tell how it only came about because our Windsor shop screwed up – then of course rectified – the wine order of a most noble perfick knight from the Castle who then mentioned us to the Park’s Chief Ranger, who invited me to look at a site near where there were once ‘Vineries’, and how we smuggled soil samples into the soil testing laboratory in Champagne, passed their tests, put in 18,000 vines and waited six years for our first bottle; a noble wine in every sense and just right for a toast on birthdays, royal or other, and even State Banquets for US Presidents.
I also pour and bore on about the new white from our French vineyard where our story began in ‘65. Then pour a Marlborough Sauvignon anniversary special from Hunters to bring back the memory that this was the first such wine to hit Britain which it did with a quite explosive impact … so loud that the matter was debated in the New Zealand Parliament.
I then offer the ‘Wine of the Mad Wind’ from Maury in Roussillon, and the Ultima Edizione from Farnese in Abruzzo. Both wines that changed attitudes to the previously somewhat denigrated vineyards in the sun baked Deep South of both France and Italy. Then there’s a big RedHeads Aussie. VIW’s very important wines all.
A chilled glass of my old friend and teacher Hugh Johnson’s Royal Tokaji from the Mad (name of village) vineyard he was mad enough to rescue thirty years ago. Lots of stories. I go on and on.
Oz Clarke has volunteered to come along the evening I’m to do at Notts Forest football ground … not actually a stadium show, just a dining room show. But two old winos, whose wine lives have covered the same decades, singing for their suppers with wines and stories!!! I am slightly nervous. He’s a celebrity. And he can really sing.