Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…
Nine wine buyers and sommeliers, 18 South African winemakers, 30 wines, four London restaurants and two old school Land Rovers. Welcome to The Buyer and Wines of South Africa‘s Restaurant Safari.
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In an ideal world Wines of South Africa would be able to host every leading buyer, sommelier, merchant and importer and allow them to have a South African wine experience in their own country. But whilst that is clearly not possible, it is does not stop WOSA and its producers bringing their magic to the UK.
Welcome to The Buyer and WOSA’s South Africa Restaurant Safari. A chance to show different styles of South African wine, but in a way that brought out the personality of its producers and introduce busy UK wine buyers to a touch of South African winelands hospitality in the heart of London.
The chance for buyers to visit four London restaurants – M Victoria, Belmond Cadogan Hotel, The Rabbit, Kensington Wine Rooms – and meet different South African wine producers in each one, with food and wine matched to a particular theme for that venue.
With a twist
But with a twist. To add the ‘safari’ flavour and colour to proceedings Wines of South Africa hired safari-style Land Rovers to take the group from restaurant to restaurant, picking up winemakers and producers as we went.
All the buyers met at our first venue, M Victoria, to be greeted by our initial group of winemakers, before heading in Land Rovers to stop number two, The Belmond Cadogan hotel, in Chelsea. Then it was a short hop down the Kings Road to restaurant number three, The Rabbit, part of the Gladwin Restaurant Group, and our third set of winemakers. Before finishing at The Wine Rooms in Kensington for our final group of producers who were then joined, Pied Piper style by all the other winemakers who had followed en route to all meet up at the end.
To get the tour right we needed to find the right restaurant partners to work with that would show the diversity of the wines and pair them with the right dishes that helped fully express their flavour and taste profiles. Restaurants that also could cope with hosting up to four or five wine producers and a travelling group of buyers who were in an out of their premises within 90 minutes. And had enough room outside for two Land Rovers.
The panel of buyers included:
- John Chapman: operations director
- Sara Rossi: head sommelier, Trinity Restaurant
- Jason Myers: co-founder, Grosvenor Pubs and Bacone
- Dawn Mannis: co-founder, The Sampler
- Mattia Scarpazza: head sommelier, Petersham Nurseries
- Nacho Campo: wine manager, Hawksmoor
- Richard Gladwin: co-founder, Gladwin Brothers Restaurant Group
- Andrew Rogerson: supervisor sommelier, The Arts Club
- Valentin Radosav: head sommelier, Gymkhana
What the buyers said:
“I really enjoyed the experience of the restaurant safari tour. It was a great opportunity to learn about South African winemakers. I found it to be a very original idea and unique way to organise a wine tasting session. Everything was perfect and spot on. I wish we could do it every month.”
Sara Rossi, Trinity
“It was really interesting to see (the wines) and I am certainly happy to learn more about what is happening in the country.”.
Mattia Scarpazza from The Petersham Nurseries
“Overall it was a great experience, to have the chance to taste wines with the winemakers is always priceless.”
Nacho Campo, Hawksmoor
“I love the concept of the roving tasting as it brings context to each mini tasting whereby themes can be explored. It acts as solidity to which the tasters and potentially the producers can share more on the journey between venues.”
John Chapman, Oxford Wine Company
Jo Wehring, UK head of Wines of South Africa, said of the event: “We wanted to create a bespoke event where we could really focus on South Africa, picking some themes that work well with the premium on-trade and connecting with our winemakers. Working with The Buyer gave us access to a fantastic selection of restaurants and a great group of people who were exactly the right audience and a lot of fun too.”
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- The Buyer would like to thank Jo and Claudia at Wines of South Africa for making the restaurant safari happen. The teams at the four restaurants for hosting us so well – M Victoria, Belmond Cadogan Hotel, The Rabbit and Kensington Wine Rooms – and Sensible Wine Services for making sure the wines were in the right restaurant at the right time. Finally we would like to thank the team at Webb’s of Weybridge for the real stars of the show – two Land Rovers – and driving everyone involved around London for what was such a memorable day.