WSDC Event - Chateauneuf-du-Pape Dinner: Clos des Papes vs Vieux Telegraphe

What: Chateauneuf-du-Pape Dinner: Clos des Papes vs Vieux Telegraphe  
When: 05 Feb 20 ,19:00 -22:30
Where: Apothecaries Hall EC4V 6EJ map
See summary here



Guest Speaker: Marcel Orford-Williams 

In the 1970s along the long wall of Longwall street in Oxford was written (but not for long): “It doesn’t matter who you vote for – the bloody government still gets in”. It was Oxford, so one can excuse the poor grammar. In the mid 1990’s at a small lunch with Eddie George (1938-2009 and governor of the Bank of England from 1993 to 2003) I asked him if the same were true twenty years later and he replied: “Yes, but even more so with the rise of global finance and the multinationals”. We are now on our 81st government since the Act of Union in 1707 and only time will tell if the graffiti of fifty years ago still holds true.

The Guilds and Livery companies of London are not given to such profligate change. They were established to protect their own trading positions and ensure that goods and services were fit for their purpose. Apothecaries made and stored herbal medicines and wines in an Apotheca (άποθήκη) in much the same way that the Bibliotheque stored books and a discotheque holds musical records, although this last term is a recent derivation from the 1950’s in France; some would question whether this was indeed music. The Apothecaries became formally associated with the pepperers in 1180. This association rolled on and in 1316 a separate group, the spicers, joined the pepperers and since they were both wholesalers dealing in bulk or “en gros”, as was the term at the time, they became incorporated as the worshipful company of Grocers in 1428. Giles Brandreth in his admirable book Word Play does not quite appreciate the derivation of the word.

The Apothecaries became the equivalent of local pharmacists and this did not fit easily within the company of grocers. After a long campaign, James the First granted the Royal Charter to the Apothecaries in December 1617. The Apothecaries acquired a large part of the Priory of the Black Friars in 1632 and the original hall was built on this site. Then when the great plague arrived in 1665 and was to kill 100,000 people, almost a quarter of London’s population, the Apothecaries did not flee, but stayed to provide help and medicines to the sick and needy, only to have their hall burnt down by the great fire of London the next year. The rebuild was in 1672 and the current hall is much the same 348 years later and is the oldest surviving working livery hall in the city. From the rebuild things must have gone downhill a bit as Apothecaries were notorious for "the assumed gravity and affectation of knowledge generally put on by the gentlemen of this profession, who are commonly as superficial in their learning as they are pedantic in their language" [Francis Grose, "A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1796.] Plus ça change….

Fortunately, one hundred years later, the first vintage of Clos des Papes was declared in 1896, soon followed by Vieux Télégraphe in 1900. Marcel Orford-Williams, famed for his extravagant neckwear, has been the Rhône buyer for the Wine Society for twenty years. He will guide us through the wines and their makers.

The wines we will be drinking are:

Grahams White Port as an aperitif – chilled solo or with tonic, ice and crushed fresh mint – accompanied by warm canapes.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Blanc 2013, should more than match the artichoke hearts, brown shrimps and Iberico puffs, whipped herb butter and wild garlic oil.

The main course is filet mignon of roe deer, red & green grapes, tarragon Veronique, root vegetable rösti, caramelised leeks and with this we will drink three reds:

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 2000

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos des Papes Avril 2000

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos des Papes Avril 1998

These are all reputed to be at the “top of their game”

Then, to finish with a luscious sauternes, Château Suduiraut 2001: shipwreck apple tart, cider brandy clotted cream.

- Tony Wright

Dress Code: Lounge suit 

Guests: £180
Members: £170

Forthcoming events:

Spring Tasting: to be arranged

Tuesday, 2 June 2020 – 70th Anniversary Dinner and AGM, including ’89 Lafite and 1970 Grahams, with Sebastian Payne at the Drapers’ Hall

Vintages available from The Wine Society:

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 2013
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 2014
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos des Papes Avril 2013
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos des Papes Avril 2014
Château Suduiraut 2014

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