So to Part 2 of my very varied week of wine and this time a trip out of London, well slightly anyway, to the Holland and Holland shooting school. What could be a more suitable match than a lot of shotguns and a lot of wine?
For those who are not that familiar with shotguns, Holland and Holland make some of the best in the world, a new one will set you back around £100,000 and that is for the entry level, so you can imagine their shooting school is quite smart.
It was the annual Wine and Spirit Benevolent FundCharity clay pigeon shoot. An event somewhat different to the Bloggers world cup the previous night. Replace twitter names for double barrelled ones, iphones for signet rings (well that was the Berry Bros team anyway!) and fois gras for spit roast lamb…It seems no matter what the wine event, the food is great.
I had kindly been invited to join the Left field Wines Team by Nick Dymoke- Marr. We were also joined by Chris Mitchell (Wine PR extraordinaire) and Joe Wadesack (general wine celebrity). The pressure was on as this team had won the event twice before and so I arrived at the day like a small child at a urinal…on my toes.
My apprehension was unnecessary as it soon become clear that the whole event had a laid back air with only the slightest undertone of competitiveness and a healthy smattering of wine world chat.
After a bacon sandwich and a safety briefing we were off and for me it was a bad start. It is quite depressing when straight after the first shot you take (a target I hit by the way) the instructor looks at you and says, “yes, there is a lot we can do here”. He then proceeded to explain to me that everything I was doing was wrong…I didn’t point out that I had hit the first two targets perfectly, something which I think displays superior ability and had nothing to do with luck!
We proceeded throughout the first session in what can only be described as consistent manner punctuated by brilliance. However all our efforts were rendered useless by a discovery at the half time break. Off Piste Wine had kept to their name and employed a slightly off piste method in their team selection, in that they had completely ignored the wine trade connotations and instead recruited a chap who shoots for Great Britain. Their argument being that he qualifies because “he drinks a lot of wine!”
It was either the special Holland and Holland lemon squash or that we had resigned ourselves to the fact we wouldn’t win but our team relaxed into the second sessions, enjoyed the blazing sun and shot our socks off. However despite our increase in tempo, come the end of the second session and we were still nowhere near the leaders (the pro had missed only 2!).
But there was one last hope! The flurry, where all guns in the team line up together and shoot at 60 targets that come in a continuous stream. Perhaps, no, definately the truest test of a teams shooting ability. With the sun beating on our brows and with the entire party watching over us, like Leonidas lining up at Thermopylae the Left Field Wines team took to the stage and showed everyone how it was done. To say there was rapturous applause would be a lie but there was definitely a ripple of respect as we scored highest in what was certainly the most difficult element of the day.
Alas, our Spartan efforts were not enough to catch the Off Piste boys! So instead we drowned our sorrows with some Laurent Perrier and headed for the roast lamb.
The whole day was a fantastic success and I am sure raised a great deal of money for the Benevolent.
At this point I must stress that unfortunately this was not a typical week for me, I do normally do a lot more work! But what I hope this couple of blogs demostrates is the varied and wonderful world that is the wine trade. It must be rare to find an industry where every person you meet is enthusiastic and excited about their product, where everyone is lucky enough to indulge their passion and call it work.
It is quickly becoming clear to me, as a newcomer to the industry, that whether you are discussing the best Twitter applications at a bloggers tasting or hearing about the demand for ’09 En Primeur wines at a clay pigeon shoot, there is a unique atmosphere in this trade that is surely born out of a shared passion. And of course there is always great food too!
Next time I promise to remember my camera!