Having just hit 40 a couple of weeks ago (no, I didn't feel old until 21st when our youngest turned one and seeing the two sets of cards on top of the piano did bring home just how much older than him I am), we decided to have a blow out last night and around 100 friends and neighbours came over for a hog roast. The only difference between this and every other hog roast I have ever attended is that this was a complete DIY job. A friend (another James) built the spit on the lines of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's model (in his excellent "Meat" book) and despite our mutual nerves that it may not work, the Tamworth, bought from a friend of my brother-in-law, roasted to perfection. The extra flavour and texture of this breed was further enhanced by an internal marinade of chilli, garlic and fennel seeds overnight before the fire was lit around 7.30am for the hog to start roasting at 9am. Turned regularly throughout the day by myself and old college friend Saki, by 7pm it
The night before a big party can be rather more relaxing than the big event itself! I got back from the school run with a pig in the back of the car to find two old college friends, Simon and Stuart who I haven't seen in at least ten years. They helped with getting the pig out of the car and prepared for the next day. Then we sat down and waited for Saki and Caroline, also from our college days to turn up so we could have dinner (kofte kebabs). We had a couple of good bottles of Gigondas, the best of which was the 2000 "Les Hauts de Montmirail" from Domaine Brusset but as both Simon and Stuart are real ale drinkers, it wasn't until I reached for the remains of the bottle of Bressy-Masson 's sweet and slightly madeirized Rasteau Rancio that they were keen to try. Simon was especially convinced as were both Saki and Caroline (I think Stuart may have stuck to the beer). Anyway, great to see some old faces
The third ASDW press and trade tasting (followed by a rather hectic public session during the evening) got off to a good start with two very influential critics taking their time and taking us all seriously. I consciously included some of the less obvious wines this time. The most popular included Xavier Vignon 's Champagne and "Blanc" (next time I'll have the Rouge, then no other wine will get a look in!), Domaine des Anges ' "L'Archange" wines, Domaine des Côteaux des Travers ' Rasteau "Prestige" (a personal favourite: lovely spiciness coupled with good red fruits and a nice veneer of oak), La Bastide Blanche's Bandol "Cuvée Estagnol" (still a tannic brute but the fruit is beginning to shout a bit louder now), Château du Seuil 's deliciously international Graves Rouge and the Italian wines I showed: the "Volano" and Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 (the undoubted star of the tasting) from Il Molino di
Decanter 's Bordeaux supplement included a glowing review of Château du Seuil 's 2005 Cérons, a sticky from a tiny appellation just outside Sauternes. Stephen Brook gave it four stars (highly recommended), describing it as having a "Light apricot nose; lean, racy candied lemon flavours, lively acidity and length"