Cheers to 2018
By Ciaran Meyler, wine manager, United Wines
Ciaran with Arsene Wenger, former manager of Arsenal FC
It’s always a sign of getting old when you say things like ‘Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas again, where has 2018 gone’. Well I’m not going to say that, I know exactly where it has gone and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. So start living and do loads with your life, travel more, meet new people. If you’re not happy at work, change career! ‘Doing the same thing every year for 70 years isn’t living.’ Now that’s the philosophy message out of the way, we can get on with talking about wine.
Major talking points from 2017 were:
• Surprisingly Donald Trump is still in charge of the USA.
• Northern Ireland is causing all sorts of issues with Brexit negotiations.
So hardly anything has changed, there was little point in worrying about it. At least the Ireland Rugby Team are conquering the world, roll on Japan.
Whilst I attended and conducted lots of tastings in 2018, I really only want to write about my ultimate highlights.
Firstly this has to be The Arsenal Foundation Dinner sponsored by Santa Rita Wine Estates. As a lifelong Arsenal fan, it was an amazing occasion. Held in London in May this year, it was Arsene Wenger’s last official event at The Emirates Stadium. As you can see from the photo, I had a brief conversation with Arsene over a glass of bubbly. As well as the unique opportunity to meet all the players, the food, prepared by Raymond Blanc, and wines supplied by Santa Rita were exceptional. Medalla Real with Herb Crusted Beef was divine.
Unusual for me, I didn’t get to visit any suppliers this year. However, my wife and I did get a wee trip to Bordeaux to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary; ah, isn’t that lovely, queue the jokes. We had a mind-blowing experience at La Cite Du Vin, the interactive wine museum in Bordeaux. If you’re a wine geek like me, it’s a must visit – www.laciteduvin.com.
The iconic building is a feat of modern architecture. Inside you can travel back in time with the interactive journey on the history and culture of wine. Enjoy the touchscreen maps of the world that take you directly into the world’s most famous vineyards where you meet the wine makers. The sensory section brings to life all the aromas associated with the world’s most famous wines. Situated over 10 floors with a 360-degree view of Bordeaux and the Gironde River at the top, the website says it takes approx. 2 ½ hours to complete. I was there for 4 ½ and didn’t see everything. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this truly remarkable place.
Back at home, we had our old friend’s John Torode and Neil McGuigan back again for a wonderful night of gastronomic delights and fine Australian Wines at the Titanic Hotel, launching the new Single Batch range. With a full flavoured creamy tropical Chardonnay and a medium bodied black fruit laden spicy Shiraz, they are a perfect addition to Northern Ireland’s favourite wines.
This year also saw the launch of the fabulously fizztastic Freixenet Prosecco. The bubbles were flowing in The Loft Bar @ Ten Square. What a range of sparkling wines, with Cordon Negro, Ice Cava, Prosecco and the all new Pink Italian Bubbly. No self-respecting Christmas dinner table should be without one. They have also just launched arguably the best tasting 0.0% alcohol-free bubbly ever made. Beautiful soft creamy citrus fruits with a medium dry finish. No sore head in the morning, yummy!
Anyway signing off after another superb year, raise a glass to everyone you love and give them a big hug.