Giles Cooke has had a busy 2018, dividing his time between his growing Australian wine business, Thistledown Wines, and the UK wine importing and distribution business, Alliance Wine, that he is probably more well known in the drinks trade for. So spending time at home in Edinburgh with his family is even more special, particularly for Christmas. Here he shares what he got up to this year as well as looking back on what has been an eventful 2018.
Christmas traditions are what are important for Giles Cooke and his family, which means plenty of turkey and classic films to enjoy.
What did you get up to at Christmas?
I was home in Edinburgh this Christmas with my family. I now spend four months of the year in Australia so, even though I love the warmth, it’s great to have some downtime before the race towards vintage happens
What did you eat on Christmas Day?
Very predictable I’m afraid. Turkey and the full works for about 10 of us.
And what did you drink?
Because I’m drinking a lot of alternative stuff and making wines in Oz, I defer to the Old World classics at Christmas. There was white Burgundy, some good, mature Rioja and some Sauternes and vintage Port – and of course a lot of cutting edge Grenache just to stop myself from sounding like an old fogey!
What would be your ultimate dream Christmas?
- Place: I’ve spent it in warmer climes, but a good UK Christmas takes a lot of beating. Otherwise it would have to be somewhere warm and on a beach. I’d also love to do the Boxing Day test at the MCG which I haven’t done yet.
- People to spend it with: Family and good mates.
- What you eating: Dry aged rare breed rib eye cooked very simply with some dauphinoise.
- What you drinking: I’d start with some aged German Riesling, move on to some Meursault with the hot smoked salmon I forgot to mention, before a glass or two of Ridge Monte Bello Cab, La Rioja Alta 890, a bottle or two of Lafleur, a wee glass of Yquem with the cheese and some 63 port – all in moderation of course.
Favourite Christmas related film?
It has to be A Christmas Carol and not one of the modern crappy versions. I love the cheese of the musical Scrooge with Albert Finney. I grew up with all of our family loving this.
Favourite Christmas song?
I like the Pretenders, 2000 miles or Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl.
What Christmas song would you happily never hear again?
Too numerous to mention but Maria Carey is not a fave!
Any classic old Christmas TV favourites from the past?
I think Only Fools and Horses was what we most looked forward to when growing up. These days I don’t watch much telly on Christmas Day. Last year we had much more fun playing Cards against Humanity in the evening – once the kids had gone to bed of course…
How has 2018 been for you overall?
It has been as busy as ever, with some major achievements in terms of my work in Australia (with Thistledown Wines). Our UK business, Alliance Wine, has continued to grow despite some strong headwinds
Highs: At work it has been the critical acclaim and increasing distribution that our Thistledown Wines have gained. Working with some amazing growers who are really working alongside us now to reach some mutual goals. I’ve also been proud to continue on the charitable work through Our Fathers wine.
Personally, being able to show my family some of the sights of Australia was amazing. Swimming next to my daughter on the Barrier Reef was a special moment.
Lows: Anything to do with Brexit. I feel sad for our country and the mess it is in
Hopes for 2019?
At the moment the outlook seems troubled. I hope that this has all been a dream and that I wake up with no referendum and no Article 50. Failing that, I just hope that all my family stay fit and healthy and that vintage 2019 is a great one