Europe’s iconic wine families, Primum Familiae Vini comes to London

Feb 15, 12 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.

Vega Sicilia 1953

Vega Sicilia 1953

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.

Mouton Rothschild 1961

Mouton Rothschild 1961

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.

Hugel gewurz, '76(l) '07(r)

Hugel gewurz, ’76(l) ’07(r)

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…”


multi generational pic of the Primum Familiae Vini

multi generational pic of the Primum Familiae Vini

Have you had any of these iconic wines? Leave your memories in the comments section…

lunch leftovers

lunch leftovers


  1. >>> Have you had any of these iconic wines? Leave your memories in the comments section… <<<

    One of the advantages of being older is that I could afford to not only purchase some of these wines from prior vintages, but age them until they matured. That, and having been involved as both a wine writer and in the trade, I was invited to many tastings myself.

    My memories of the some of OLDEST vintages of the wines you've mentioned specifically: 1966 Pol Roger Blanc de Blanc from half bottles was sublime; the 1969 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche made me realize how great Chardonnay could be; 1961 Château de Beaucastel was a powerhouse; long before it was called "Mas La Plana," the 1970 Torres Grand Coronas "Black Label" (Cabernet Sauvignon) was impressive; the 1982 Solaia impressed, but I'm not the biggest fan of SuperTuscans, but the 1972 Sassicaia was one of the first truly great Italian wines (as opposed to "great . . . for an Italian); the 1953 Vega Sicilia "Unico" made me happy I was born in 1953; 1929 Château Mouton Rothschild, enjoyed at lunch with the late Baron Philippe, left me speechless; the 1953 Hugel & Fils Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles (along with the 1945 Hugel Riesling VT) was consumed with Etienne Hugel in San Francisco to celebrate Hugel's 350th anniversary; the 1971 Scharzhofberger Trockenbeerenauslese was simply to die for; and the 1945 Graham’s Vintage Port was seductive as all hell!


  2. one of the assets for us being in this fantastic club is also tasting such great wines and meeting truly great personalities in the world of wines. Thanks Miguel and Robert for coming up with the idea of this PFV club and our peers for inviting us… and Alsace to be part of it

    • Thank you, Etienne for bringing your fantastic wines and allowing us to share in the Hugel drinking experience! It was great to meet all of you in one place and at one time. I look forward to your next visit to London.

  3. It has to be said that I feel a certain envy here… Next time we meet you have to tell me who want needs to bribe to get into this – although it will be a while until they come to London again, I reckon. Cheers!

  4. sounds truly sensational …… love the work.

    • Thanks, Greg! It was truly an exceptional lunch and wine tasting, well more like wine drinking as there were no spittoons so we HAD to drink the wine 🙂

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