Europe’s iconic wine families, Primum Familiae Vini comes to London
2012 sure is shaping up to be the year to be in London. So, we’ve got the Olympics, the Para-Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee etc. But what made it even more special, for me, was this was the year that the Primum Familiae Vini came to town. The PFV picks an international capital city once a year to play host to them.
Now this may not sound like a big deal but the PFV also bring their wines with them. And now it gets interesting. What is the PFV you may be asking? They are a group of the leading wine families in the world. By world, I mean Europe and by leading, I mean, the creme de la creme.
Marchese Antinori, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Joseph Drouhin, Egon Muller Scharzhof, Hugel & Fils, Champagne Pol Roger, Perrin & Fils, the Symington Family Estates, Tenuta San Guido, Miguel Torres and Vega Sicilia. Their charter states that they can have a maximum of 12 members but currently there are only 11 members of the group. PFV was established in 1992 and is by invitation only.
While PVF might seem to be a bunch of old houses clubbing together, the real goal of the group is “a passion for the pursuit of excellence”. Started by Robert Drouhin and Miguel Torres when they were chatting and walking around a vineyard, they realized they had many of the same goals both in traditional winemaking values and business concerns. It has since grown into a collective where they can share their knowledge and expertise as well as help each other out in the marketplace. While they are here to show their wines to the press and public, they also hold several tastings as well as a gala dinner and auction to raise funds for various local charities. Another major goal of the partnership is to pass on their knowledge to the next generation and many had brought along their progeny to lunch. Etienne Hugel joked that they were hoping for a few marriages but none have occurred yet.
I was invited to a luncheon of their flagship wines and what a wine fest it was! Lunch was held at 2 Michelin starred, The Square in Mayfair and while the food was absolutely fantastic, the wines were the stars. Highlights: 1988 Pol Roger blanc de blanc, Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Grand Cru Marquis de Laguiche 1990, Solaia 2001, Sassicaia 1996 in Magnum, Chateau de Beaucastel 1990, Mas La Plana 1982,Vega Sicilia 1953, Mouton Rothschild 1961, Hugel & Fils Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles 1976, 1990 Scharzhofberger Trockenbeerenauslese and to finish the 1963 Graham’s Vintage Port. And these were the highlights, we had a total of 22 flagships wines to taste, two from each family. It was like time travelling, to be able to go back and forth between the newer and older vintages of each wine that the families had contributed, the wines showing off their youthful ruggedness or else their gentle glide into maturity.
Do you really want my tasting notes? Because I do have them. Suffice it to say, it was a memorable wine tasting day for me. Hugh Johnson was there and he spoke about the families and their wines. I’d like to quote him:
Hyperbole is not the point, each wine is approached in it’s own way… no one wine is the greatest as each has it’s own distinctiveness. We want wine to be recognizable but after that… as Goethe said, “the rich want great wine, the poor want lots of wine…”
Have you had any of these iconic wines? Leave your memories in the comments section…