Zoom (online) Tastings with producers - May & June 2020


Much of the world, in these confined times, has gone webinar, videoconferencing and Zoom crazy. With fair reason, we grant you.

We bucked that trend … for all of 20 minutes. Much of our Lockdown existence now seems to consist of a grid of people - or cats on their keyboards - all forgetting to mute their microphones. But great fun it can be. This sort of thing (photo credit to The Poke)...

You can probably see where this is going. We know we’re not the first to offer Zoom/virtual/web-tastings.

But we might well have one of the best overall web tasting line-ups with producers  ... for four consecutive Thursdays in May, starting at 7pm (British Summer Time) on May 7th, and then the first Sunday in June (an afternoon) ... five sessons in all (so far)!

There is, of course, no charge.

Each session will feature 5 or 6 wines. Join us for just one or two, join us for the lot, or just watch along and listen ... but do join us.

** IMPORTANT (we are often asked!): The wines to be tasted appear at the foot of this page - for info and to buy - in the grid of bottle icons **.

All wines are already in stock, so as to be with customers well ahead of each tasting.

Here, then, are the tastings: 


Ken Forrester (Thursday May 7th, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

We launch with a very natural first choice for such occasions. Quite apart from producing some of South Africa’s finest and most iconic wines - as though that weren't enough - Ken Forrester is one of the great showmen and raconteurs in the wine world; we’ve been lucky enough to join him on few occasions and can vouchsafe of that (click here for a flavour and also here). Fully e-warmed up (as though he needs it…) after a recent e-session with a Norwegian wine school, Ken himself will be joining us from Stellenbosch, leading a tasting for Exel customers across 6 of his most varied and superb wines, sparkling, white and red. The legendary FMC will, of course, feature ... as will the almost-as-legendary Gypsy.


Sierra Cantabria (Thursday May 14th, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

From the New World to the distinctly Old on May 14th (7pm), we turn to those doyens of Rioja, Sierra Cantabria. Local Exel customers will recall a heady evening with them here in 2018. We’ll be joined by one of the current generation of the winemaking and owning family, Mikel Eguren, along with SC’s export manager, Alejandra Naranjo. Through their whites and reds, both old-school and modern-style Riojas, we shall take the tour. We'll naturally finish up with the wonderful (but not daftly-priced) San Vicente.


Gems of Campania (Thursday May 21st, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

We move to something a little more off-piste - and very (Southern) Italian - on May 21st: Gems of Campania, being a tasting of two halves and producers, from the sea to the mountains...

Cenatiempo - from the island of Ischia, off Naples - produced one of our Greats of 2019 – the DWWA19 Best In Show Kalimera. Federica Predoni from Cenatiempo will present three fascinating and unique wines from their range; and

Caggiano are one of the names of enigmatic Taurasi (‘the Barolo of the South’). John Chalmers of Enotria & Coe (UK importers of Caggiano and also of all the producers above, essential in bringing these tastings to you) will take you through two of their best.


Valdivieso and Caballo Loco (Thursday May 28th, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

To Chile we go, one of the great new frontiers of quality wine. Pioneers in the field are Valdivieso (and their luxury stable, Caballo Loco). These are most definitely not 'just Chilean wines' ... as Jonas Tofterup - a recent addition to the hallowed ranks of the Masters of Wine and Valdivieso's export manager - can explain best of all. Indeed, the Caballo Loco - one of the most intriguing (and intriguingly-made) red wines on the planet - is a wine everyone should try. We've more details on the range here. Jonas is a superb presenter and these are under-discovered, quite excellent wines - don't miss this one.


d'Arenberg (Sunday June 14th, 1pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

Thence to Australlia, and McLaren Vale in the specific. We'll be teaming up with one of our most popular Australian producers, d'Arenberg, and joined by Chester Osborn, their Chief winemaker. Follow the Red Stripe, say they and he, and for 90 minutes, we'll be doing just that. Chester - rather like Ken with whom this series kicked off - is one of the largest larger than-life characters in the wine trade and lies behind some of the best-known and most recognisable (and recognisably-named) bottles in the New World. Rest assured, the Dead Arm Shiraz features - the problem with this range was what to leave out!!


How does this all work?

  • Don't be scared of the technology angle (we were to start with); Zoom users will know how very ultra-simple it is to use (see on-line lesson-ette below).
  • You tell us on if you’d like to join us, and for which tastings; we then book you in (we rather do need to do this to make it work) and confirm. We can only fit so many people in per tasting (although this is a decent number).
  • If you’d like to taste the wines with us and the producers, you can order them ahead of the evening(s); do, of course, put together an order for more than one tasting (hence our announcing all three together now). The list - and details - of the wines in use are below. We advise ordering sooner rather than later (ideally, but not crucially, by 10am Monday 27th April for Ken’s tasting).
  • You’ll have a few bottles open at the end; we recommend Vacu-Vin stoppers (or similar) to get the best out of the wines for a few days.
  • We then email you on the Wednesday (or Saturday for d'Arenberg) - ie the day before the tasting - an invitation to the tasting, complete (crucially) with the Zoom meeting weblink. There’s more here on preparing for a Zoom session. There’ll also be a few handy hints in the invitation on how best the session works (a few dos and dont's, if you will).
  • At 7pm on the allotted Thursday (2pm Sunday for d'Arenberg), you click that link and away we go. Just watch, hide, interact and/or taste as you choose. Send and/or ask questions if you fancy.
  • Like the sound of the wines afterwards? Wish you’d had them at the time? You know where to find them….
  • Not for you? Fair enough. A few weeks ago, we’d have said the same. Perhaps the bigger question is why we weren't doing this before...
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