by Gareth Groves
“I am a legend!”
The great Ben Collins is indeed a Bibendum legend. He’s been here from the very beginning, half his life in fact, selling fine wine to the great and the good around the country. On Monday night more than a few Bibendumites gathered upstairs at our local The Lansdowne to celebrate his 60th birthday. As befits a fine skier, it is, as Ben himself put it, all downhill from here.
For a man pickled in Pauillac, he is looking remarkably well as he heads into his dotage. Don’t rule out him trying to flog you Bordeaux 2031 en primeur.
The rules of admission were very simple: you needed to bring a more than decent bottle and a story or two about Ben. Neither were in short supply.
So what did we choose to drink in honour of one of our best loved colleagues?
Bastianich Vigne Orsone Friulano 2010
Besserat de Bellefon Brut Rose NV
Echezeaux Bouchard Aine & Fils (no-one seems to be able to recall the vintage of this one)
Catena Zapata Malbec Nicasia 2007
Barolo Bricco Rocche Ceretto 2004
Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2010
Chateau Batailley 2004
Chateau Batailley 1990
Chateau Batailley 1996
Chateau Belle-Brise 1995
Chateau Cissac 2000
Chateau d’Esclans Esclans Rosé 2010
Chateau Lagrange 2004
Chateau Paveil de Luze 2007 – in multiple imperiales
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 2004
Cuatro Rayas Verdejo 2010
Dr Burklin-Wolf Trocken Riesling 2009
Nuits-St-Georges Henri Jayer 1998
Howard Park Chardonnay 2007
Vouvray Clos du Bourg Sec Huet2009
Cote Rotie Jamet 1994
Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Sancerre Les Hospices Paul Buisse 2010
Les Tourelles de Longueville 2003
Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 1996
Marotti Campi Luzano 2004
Maison Roche de Bellene Puligny Montrachet Les Referts 2008
Barolo Paolo Conterno 2005
Bourgogne Pinot Blanc Vieille Vigne Patrick Javillier 1997
Petit Chablis Patrick Piuze 2010
Petaluma Adelaide Hills Viognier 2009
Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2009
Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir 2009
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Jeio Bisol NV
Quinta do Vallado Douro Tinto 2003
Valpolicella Classico Superiore Quintarelli 2001
Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008
Rolly-Gassman Gewürztraminer 2007
Meursault Clos des Poruzots Domaine Roux Pere & Fils 2008
Rully Clos des Mollepierres Domaine Saint Abel 2007
Cotes du Rhone Saint Cosme 2010
Gigondas Saint Cosme 2009
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo San Calisto 2005 (I think)
St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2007
Brunello di Montalcino Talenti 2005
Vieux Chateau Certan 1993
Villa Russiz Collio Friulano 2009
Villa Russiz Collio Merlot 2009
There were quite a few of us after all.
Personal highlights included the VCC, the Jayer, the Jamet and the Huet. No surprises there, perhaps. I didn’t even see the Quintarelli or the Talenti at my end of the table. The last drop of Prophet’s Rock swigged from an all but empty bottle boded well for 2012′s drinking. It will arrive in our warehouse in the New Year.
As someone said to me over a restorative lunch yesterday, few people are lucky enough to work somewhere where 50 or so colleagues can come together for an amazing evening of great food and wine. That it was in honour of a true wine trade legend, just made the claret taste even better.
Happy Birthday, Ben.