We recently hosted a Trade tasting to launch our release of 'archive' vintage wines. Held at the Zetter Hotel, one of our long-standing on-trade accounts in Clerkenwell, London; this event provided our trade customers the opportunity to get together to sample some terrific older vintages as well as a selection from our current wine portfolio.

These tastings are always difficult to get right in terms of scheduling, as, in the competitive world we work in, there are often a plethora of rival tastings, lunches, or dinners for Sommeliers/restaurant managers to choose from. Indeed, on the day of our tasting, there were another three large events on in London, so we were very happy to see so many of our restaurateur friends on the day.

Featuring great wines always helps attendance levels and our line-up showed very well on the day. From the whites it was nice to revisit a Yapp staple (albeit in a new vintage) with the Sébastien Chéreau Muscadet de Sèvre et Main 2009, a fresh, crisp, citrus flavoured wine with a good body of fruit. A real lip-smacker that leaves you wanting more. For the reds, the Pic Saint-Loup l’Arbouse appeared to be a firm favourite amongst the tasters, quite an earthy wine with rich fruit, warming tannins and touch of spice; it is a great wine for these autumnal months.

The archive table (unsurprisingly) was the busiest. This featured:- Domaine de Trévallon 2000, Jasmin Côte Rôtie 1999, Clape Cornas 1999, Chave Hermitage Red 2001, Chave Hermitage Red 1996 and Jasper Hill ‘Georgia’s Paddock’ Shiraz 2002. All of these wines had a supporter or more on the day, my personal favourites were the Trévallon 2000, which had reached a decent maturity with a nice balance between the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Syrah. Trévallon is never an ‘easy’ wine, it certainly always stands out amongst its contemporaries, and it sat quite heavily against its neighbours on the day. The Clape Cornas also deserves a mention, as it seemed to meet with a broad approval.

That is not to say that everyone had the same view on all of the wines. Whenever you taste an older vintage of any ‘classic’ wines, everyone has an opinion. Some preferred the Chave 1996 to the 2001 whereas others thought the 2001 was more open and ready for drinking on the day than its older sibling. Younger palates varied from those of more ‘mature’ age. The French disagreed with the English (hardly surprising) and the English disagreed with the English (even less surprising).

Eventually it was time for lunch and the debates (and a notable number of open bottles) meandered their way upstairs to Bistrot Bruno Loubet, The Zetter hotel’s buzzing bistro. Here we were treated to Bruno Loubet’s fantastic fare. We have already blogged about a previous visit to this much lauded restaurant so I will avoid being repetitive. Suffice to say, no one left on an empty stomach and there were many appreciative comments passed from our tables. My favourite dish was the Mauricette snails and meatballs with royale de champignons. Plump snails out of their shells, alternated with mouth melting, veal meatballs, all of which surrounded a deceptively light mushroom mousse. Later on after lunch, Bruno popped over for a chat and he explained that this dish was a celebration of his grandmother’s cooking when he was a child. Only he has taken it and given it a modern ‘British friendly slant’ (hence the lack of snail shells on the plate).

The lunch progressed well into the afternoon as bottles were passed from table to table for ‘re-examining’ and ‘updating’ of tasting notes. Eventually, our jolly group of tasters and diners began to dwindle as people ventured back out onto the streets of Clerkenwell. We always tend to finish off with a cleansing ale and quick chat about the day’s events, but this noble tradition was dashed with the appearance of a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee NV, generously proffered by Roger Jones of The Harrow Inn at Little Bedwyn. Of course it would have been churlish to refuse and so we dallied a while longer as we reflected on the wine and the food of the day.

Many thanks to Bruno Loubet and his front of house team and to the Event Team at the Zetter for their contribution to a successful day. Bruno’s food certainly warrants a visit, with his relaxed, bistro take on some classic French cuisine. I hope you have as much fun matching the Yapp wines that can be found on the wine list to his dishes as we did.