When the OHMS envelope came, I thought it was a speeding ticket!

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.

Tasting with Jane Hunter, First Lady of Kiwi Sauvignon

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.

Valentino’s Ultima Edizione is one of the buys of the year

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. 

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About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!

4 thoughts on “When the OHMS envelope came, I thought it was a speeding ticket!

  1. Dear Tony, many congratulations on your well-deserved OBE. I was in almost at the start. I had a pal who ran a wine bar in Worksop back in the 70s and I used to go in for a sandwich and a glass of claret most lunchtimes. I often used to chat to a paediatrician who came in almost as regularly as I did and one day he handed me a bottle of red wine which he had brought from home, told me to drink it and let him know what I thought. It was a bottle of your Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon. I was hooked. My wife and I drank loads of that, and the merlot version as well . I was sorry when it disappeared from your wine list. Another red that I enjoyed drinking, which also disappeared, was Peche Redon. I am now a Confrere. Up the Reds! Cheers Dennis Barnett.

    • Thank you Dennis. Wouldn’t have got it if weren’t for you and surprisingly many like you that have sustained us over the years. I suppose you read the book? Confreres all got one, I hope. See you at the Château one day? Tony

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