It’s been a relatively busy month of tastings and wine related events already so I thought that I would focus on a selection of highs and lows.

Corney & Barrow’s Christmas tasting at The Tower of London started the month on a high.  There were a lot of wines worthy of mention but by far the best was a Blanc de Blancs Champagne, exclusive to Corney & Barrow, Salon 1999 (£215.00): pale gold colour; rich nose full of coconut, green apple, vanilla and brioche; delicate palate; and a long complex finish.  The price reflects the miniscule production of Salon; however, for those wanting a more affordable substitute Salon’s sister house Delamotte’s Blanc de Blancs 1999 at £39.99 is good value. 

Justerini & Brooks’ Rhône 2010 tasting at The Vintners Hall introduced a relatively new producer Chêne Bleu, whose wines were impressive.  The Viognier 2007 (£25.00) stood out, in particular, because of its nose which was reminiscent of a fine perfume rather than a fine wine: intense floral characteristics; tangy citrus laced with fruit and spice on the palate; and a crisp lingering finish.  I would have liked to have tried it with a couple of mince pies.

If only I had purchased the case of Mouton Rothschild 2008 which brought me to Paris on 17 November from Corney & Barrow or Justerini & Brooks.  I would not then have had to appear before Le Juge de Proximité at 4 Place du Louvre at 09:30 as the wine would have dutifully arrived as ordered.  I had hoped for a swift judgment in my favour following my well-rehearsed petition for two reasons.  First, the delinquent French wine merchant www.1855.comhad failed to deliver the wine pursuant to an Ordonnance d’Injonction de Faire that I had obtained on 20 July.  Secondly, the fact that almost every other matter before the tribunal involved the same defendant could hardly have helped 1855.com’s position.  I was hopeful of a result but, as I am all too well aware, litigation carries risk:  I was wrong.  The company was given until 16 February 2012 to deliver my wine: unbelievable.

Lunch at Rhône-influenced Willi’s Wine Bar on Rue des Petits Champs was also a disappointment: poor service; average food, meat overcooked and undercooked respectively; and extremely expensive wine.  The cheapest red on offer was €44.00 and came from a producer that I did not recognise.

I will return to Paris for Round 2 with 1855.com on 16 February 2012 and, armed with a bit of luck and a better restaurant recommendation, I might have cause to crack open a bottle of Salon (award of damages depending).