Looking back at our 2022 events

While we’re in the midst of planning our full line-up of events for 2023, we look back at 2022’s dinners and tastings – with highlights including verticals of Pétrus, Rayas, Harlan and Comtes Lafon’s Montrachet
Looking back at our 2022 events

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Magical Merlot: Pétrus

Our final event of 2022 and arguably the most impressive was a line-up of 20 vintages of Pétrus back to 1947.

With special guest William Kelley to talk our guests through the wines, this was a momentous occasion, not only for the wines but also because it was the last ever event held in The Ritz’s historic William Kent Room, before this magnificent, iconic space underwent a two-year renovation.

The last flight of the evening was remarkable – with arguably the greatest vintages of Pétrus ever produced, the 1989, 1990 and an unfathomably rare magnum of 1947. The 1990, 1989 and 1947 were the hottest vintages on record in Bordeaux at the time – and clearly proved beneficial for Pétrus – whose distinct terroir produced three wines of extraordinary complexity. Critic Robert Parker concluded – after tasting it on 11 different occasions – that the 1947 Pétrus is the “wine of the century”, quite some accolade. Despite the excitement around this trio, the top wines of the evening were the 2012, 2010, 2009 and 2006 which really stood out for their incredible depth, elegance and concentration.

The wines, paired with seven sumptuous courses prepared by Executive Head Chef John Williams MBE made for an unforgettable end to 2022.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV10, Grand Cru (in magnum)

  • 1982 Puligny-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Clos de la Mouchère, Domaine Henri Boillot

  • Pétrus vertical: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1990, 1989, 1947 (from magnum)


Castello di Ama’s L’Apparita and La Ricolma versus Percarlo

Pétrus was not the only iconic Merlot to feature in our events this year. Both L’Apparita (the 100% Merlot from Castello di Ama) and La Ricolma – (San Giusto a Rentennano’s equivalent) have both become wine icons in their own right and beautifully showcase the extraordinary complexity that this grape can achieve in the hills of Chianti.

Both La Ricolma and L’Apparita started as experiments but, once each of these neighbouring estates (although at completely different altitudes) got a handle on this French import, the results were extraordinary.

The Castello di Ama and San Guisto a Rentennano events both took place at London’s own Italian icon – The River Café. With Ruth Rogers and her team curating the perfect menu to partner these outstanding wines, it made for two very special evenings.

For our L’Apparita event, we tasted a vertical back to 1985 – the first-ever vintage of the wine, and one of only six bottles remaining at the estate. Alongside this special wine (which it was a privilege to taste), highlights of the night included the 2018 and exceptional 1995.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV10, Grand Cru (in magnum)

  • 2020 Al Poggio Chardonnay di Toscana

  • L’Apparita vertical: 2018, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2004, 2000, 1998, 1992, 1988, 1985

At our San Guisto a Rentennano dinner, La Ricolma was pitted against its Sangiovese sibling Percarlo, in a taste-off spanning 1998 to 2007. It was impossible to pick a winner, but it was the consistency of the wines that really shone through. They were all emotionally charged stunners – particularly 2007 La Ricolma and 2006 Percarlo.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV10, Grand Cru (in magnum)

  • 2021 Fuori Misura Rosato, San Giusto a Rentennano, Tuscany

  • Percarlo vertical: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 1998 (all in magnum)

  • La Ricolma vertical: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 (all in magnum)

  • 1997 Vin San Giusto, Passito, San Giusto a Rentennano, Tuscany


Exploring the Legend: Ch. Rayas 1990-2011

The Rhône was well represented, with a once-in-a-lifetime vertical of Ch. Rayas – the mystical Châteaunuef-du-Pape estate that has few peers in the fine wine world. With William Kelley co-hosting, the tasting included 19 vintages of this rare, exotic beauty.

Much to everyone’s surprise, it was the so-called “off-vintages”, years that might be deemed “lesser”, that were the most impressive – it was in these bottlings that the singularity of Rayas shone through, over-riding the character of the appellation or year.

The 2008 (given “only” 93 points by Parker back in 2012, upgraded from its original 90 in 2010) was the wine of the night for most people. By contrast, the top-rated 2009 from a blockbuster vintage was impressive, yet the vintage ever so slightly masked the Rayas style – making the wine feel more like another (very good) Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Overall, the wines showed an effortless timelessness.

Tasting through this line-up was an absolute privilege; for these rightly revered, rare wines are incredible. With no new oak, they are all about the purity and quality of fruit. They show exceptional longevity, an ethereality and easy grace that mesmerises.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV10, Grand Cru (in magnum)

  • Ch. Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc vertical: 1999, 2004, 2006

  • Ch. Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape vertical: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1990

Harlan: Napa’s iconic Cabernet

Another icon, this time from the other side of the pond was explored in our event with Napa’s Harlan, an estate that has led the charge when it comes to planting vineyards above the valley floor.

When first established, Harlan took a substantial risk, buying uncultivated land at a higher altitude that had never been planted to vines. The hillsides of Napa are largely unsuitable for cultivation, either too steep or too rocky for vines to take root. Harlan’s vines commonly have less than a foot of topsoil to burrow into before hitting the bedrock. This combination of soils, multiple exposures, the drainage of these hillside plots and the altitude all help produce a wine of singular character.  


Tasting 11 vintages of this extraordinary wine, from the early days through to the present, was an insightful journey into one of Napa’s most complex terroirs. The favourites of the night had to be the 2006 and 1994, but the landmark vintages such as 2018, 2013 and 2001 were unsurprisingly show-stopping.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV10, Grand Cru (in magnum)

  • 2018 Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Henri Boillot (in magnum)

  • Harlan vertical: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2006, 2001, 1997, 1996, 1993

Champagne takes centre stage: Henri Giraud’s Arg̈onne

World-class Champagne producers were also well-serviced in our events in 2022. A vertical of Arg̈onne – Henri Giraud’s top cuvée – was a masterclass in oak-matured Champagne.

Arg̈onne is named after the oak forest that defines the wine. Only made in exceptional vintages, it’s a particularly special, age-worthy Champagne that is 100% fermented and aged in Argonne oak that winemaker Sébastien le Golvet hand picks from the forest. Once transformed into a barrel he then custom toasts the barrels to suit the vintage characteristics. Sébastien le Golvet – son-in-law to founder Claude Giraud – is constantly experimenting. After making wine at Giraud for over 20 years, he believes the oak helps retain tension in the wines, allowing them to better express the Aÿ terroir. The talented winemaker believes that the toast level is integral to the wine’s resulting style.

It was a fascinating tasting and the way this wine develops with age is extraordinary. The highlights of the evening were the 2008 Argonne for its depth, richness and balance, but also the 2011 Blanc de Blancs, which was pure precision, richness and controlled intensity.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV07

  • 2019 and 2009 Coteaux Champenois, Aÿ Blanc, Grand Cru, Henri Giraud

  • 2011 and 2002 Champagne Henri Giraud, Blanc de Blancs

  • 2012 Champagne Henri Giraud, Arg̈onne Rosé

  • Arg̈onne vertical: 2014, 2008, 2004, 2002 Champagne Henri Giraud, Arg̈onne

  • 2000 Champagne Henri Giraud, Fût de Chêne d'Arg̈onne

  • 1995 Champagne Henri Giraud, Fût de Chêne

  • Ratafia Champenois Solera 90-16, Henri Giraud (17%)

Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne

Everyone who tries Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne seems to be immediately seduced by it. We felt such a crowd-pleaser deserved centre stage at one of our events this year and we invited Taittinger’s Chef de Cave Alexandre Ponnavoy to London to explain the magic behind what is almost everyone’s favourite Blanc de Blancs.

The Champagne is named after the 16th century Count of Champagne – Thibaud IV le Chansonnier – who, legend has it, returned from the Orient during the Crusades with both the Damask rose and the Chardonnay grape. Comtes de Champagne represents the top bottling in Taittinger’s range and the label features a portrait of Thibaud IV le Chansonnier.   


All the grapes for Comtes de Champagne are sourced from the Côte des Blancs, a ridge running 30km north to south with east-facing vineyards, predominantly planted to Chardonnay (95%). The fruit is sourced from all five Grand Cru villages in the Côte des Blancs – Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. This cuvée is made in only the top vintages exclusively from first-press juice only. A small percentage (5%) of the blend is aged in new oak barrels to create a delicate balance of toasted notes in the final wine. 

Tasting vintages back to 1989 was fascinating to see, not only how the wine matures but also the change in style as the dosage has altered considerably over the years, becoming drier as drinkers’ tastes have changed.

All the wines showed beautifully. The evening started with the then yet-to-be-released 2012 – which our guests were the first in the world to taste – But it was the 1995 Blanc de Blancs and ‘85 Rosé that were the standout wines of the night. The rosé was in pristine condition despite its age, coming direct from the cellars of Taittinger.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de Blancs vertical: 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2000, 1989, 1988,

  • Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Rosé vertical: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 1996

Montrachet Dinner with Domaine des Comtes Lafon

Getting to taste a vertical of Montrachet from Comtes Lafon spanning 2017 to 2001 was an undeniable highlight of the year. This was a truly rare opportunity to explore this coveted and rare wine through the ages.

Treasured for its scarcity and revered for its quality, Lafon’s Montrachet comes from a miniscule plot (just 31.82 ares) in the Grand Cru – and, unsurprisingly, delivers excellence year after year. Secured by collectors immediately on release, this is the pinnacle of white Burgundy.

Critics speak of a herbal minerality, of crustacea, of vivacious florals and bittersweet nuttiness: these wines capture the true essence of complexity in each vintage – the wine is a masterclass in singularity.

With an exquisite menu courtesy of world-renowned three-Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, we were joined by Léa Lafon, fifth-generation member of the Lafon family and a custodian of the renowned Meursault-based domaine to talk us through this incredible vertical.


Comtes Lafon makes one of the richest and most powerful Montrachets, possessing both great concentration, yet also amazing freshness that carries it through its long drinking window. Being fortunate enough to drink through 15 vintages really highlighted the wines’ capacity to age.

The top 2017, 2014 and 2010 vintages were a masterclass in Chardonnay perfected, but it was the supposedly “lesser” years such as 2006 or 2011 that showed the sheer class of both the site and the winemaking.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV07

  • Montrachet, Grand Cru, Domaine des Comtes Lafon vertical: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017

And much, much more

We also explored a property that is a firm FINE+RARE favourite, tasting through all the vintages ever made of Venissa’s unique white. This wine is made from the Dorona di Venezia grape – a variety that was almost lost to history were it not for Gianluca Bisol’s heritage site on the island of Mazzorbo. Nothing tastes quite like it, and it was a privilege to explore its evolution with Matteo Bisol.

Full line-up:

  • Champagne Henri Giraud, MV07

  • Venissa Bianco vertical: 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010

  • Venissa Rosso vertical: 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011

  • Venissa Vermouth

We also hosted events outside London. Our Hong Kong team explored the wonderful Rieslings of the Mosel’s Markus Molitor paired with the finest Sichuan dishes from Jing Alley. It was an unforgettable culinary experience perfectly pairing Molitor’s precise razor-sharp Rieslings with Chengdu-style Sichuanese cuisine. In Europe, we held events in Portofino, Milan and Piedmont celebrating the great whites of France to a much-appreciative crowd of Italian Francophiles.

Looking into 2023

Last year’s line-up is going to be hard to beat but we are going to do everything we can to outdo ourselves in 2023. Next month we kick off with our first event in London with a vertical tasting of Ch. Ausone – one of Saint-Emilion’s finest estates. We will explore the vintages under the tenure of current owners, the Vauthier family, which has taken this property to new heights over the last 20 years. Later in the year, we will be celebrating the tenure of Bordeaux legend Paul Pontallier with a vertical of Ch. Margaux from his time at the estate, covering some of the finest vintages ever made at the First Growth, wines which are a lasting tribute to Pontallier’s legacy. And that’s only the beginning – with much, much more in the pipeline. We hope you can make it! 

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