Every great hotel needs a great wine list – and that means keeping on top of developments in the world of viticulture via a top wine aficionado.
My font of all knowledge when it comes to wine is Jamie Aram – the man I turn to in order to ensure the cellars of The Crown and The Ship are stocked with a fantastic range of quality wines to suit every palate and pocket, whether they be red, white, rose or sparkling.
Jamie recently joined my wife Jo and I on a trip to the Tuscany region of Italy which was hosted by my main wine suppliers Hallgarten Druitt, of which Jamie is a director.
It’s important to me that I form long-term relationships with my suppliers and I’ve been sourcing wines from Jamie for nearly eight years now.
Our professional and personal relationship is such I can confidently say that when Jamie identifies the latest new wines creating a buzz on the grapevine I’m one of the first people he calls.
During our trip to Tuscany – or Chiantishire as it is sometimes known by wine lovers – Jo and I were entertained at the beautiful Castello Vicchiomaggio in the beautiful town of Greve, half way between Pisa and Florence.
We got to visit the picturesque towns of Lastra a Signa and Barberino Val d’Elsa and eat some of Tuscany’s many culinary delicacies, including wild boar with pasta and braised leek in oxtail.
Like the food, the wines we sampled were a revelation, and you can look forward to seeing them on my wine lists very soon, including my personal favourite, a lovely full-bodied red called Ripa delle More.
The Tuscany region is so beautiful and rustic, with its long lines of arrow-tall poplar trees and its stunningly quaint piazzas. It was in one of the piazzas in Greve that I almost lost myself in a traditional old butcher’s shop that would have impressed even my good friend Arthur Howell, replete with whole rabbits hanging in the windows and an array of sausages and salamis that was simply mind-boggling.
It was a wonderful trip, and the memory of sipping rose with Jo and Jamie in the splendid safety of Castello Vicchiomaggio as a spectacular electrical storm crashed around the surrounding valley will live long in my memory.