Misha recently visited London, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
It’s always great to visit the UK but it takes such a long time to get there from Queenstown – some 38 hours of travelling! On my most recent visit, as well as the usual round of meetings, I was fortunate that the Specialist Importers Trade Tasting (SITT), which I’ve always wanted to attend, was scheduled during the week I was visiting. Held at the Royal Horticultural Halls, this tasting event is a great way to get a snapshot of the range of wines available in the UK and it makes one realise just spoilt the UK is for choice! I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on a Masterclass by Lynne Sherriff MW called Great Whites of South Africa and thoroughly enjoyed being able to taste a range of unusual but very drinkable white wine blends.
The highlight of my week in the UK was participating in a Matter of Taste – a Robert Parker/The Wine Advocate event where over 600 wines from “the world’s most talented and iconic winemakers’ were assembled under one roof. All the wineries participating in this prestigious event had to be invited by The Wine Advocate (one of the world’s leading wine titles) and then only wines that had been scored 90+ points could be shown. Staged at the Saatchi Gallery in London, it was thrilling to have been included and to be able to show three of our wines – The Starlet Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (91 points), The High Note Pinot Noir 2009 (90 points) and our Reserve level Verismo Pinot Noir 2010 (93 points). The event was a sell-out success and was another of those key milestone moments when we realise how lucky we are to have such a fabulous vineyard and such a gifted winemaker because to be among such esteemed company with so many of the top wineries from around the world, was an honour indeed.
After the UK it was off to Abi Dhabi to spend a few days to work with our UAE distributor, EuroStar Cellars. I knew things were off to a good start once I checked into the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr! I just loved my spacious 45 sq. metre room with an amazing view and just wished I had more time to enjoy the room but our schedule in Abu Dhabi was busy. Fortunately the Fairmont Hotel is a customer and list our Pinot Noir so I was able to spend some time at one of the hotel’s restaurants, Frankie’s, and take Oskar Skoog and his team through some wine training. Sid, who heads up sales for EuroStar, and who was my constant companion for 3 days, took me to visit some amazing hotels and restaurants during my visit. I was delighted to see our Pinot Noir listed at Hakkasan at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi and it was a great opportunity to show them some of the other wines from our range and tell them more about Misha’s Vineyard. We also had the opportunity to meet Hakkasan Dubai’s Head Sommelier Olivier Gasselin and some of his team as we drove to Dubai and spent an afternoon there.
On the first evening in Abu Dhabi we had a very fun trade dinner at Brasserie Angelique at Jumeiriah at Etihad Towers for a select group of top hotel F&B directors (and also did a staff training for the enthusiastic team at Brasserie Angelique – which is one of the top restaurants in Abu Dhabi). On the second evening we held a wine dinner at the Shang Palace, the Chinese restaurant at the Shangri La Hotel which was very successful and we won many fans of our wines. Held in the outdoor area of the restaurant with a stunning view, the only issue we had was timing the presentation speeches in between the helicopters flying overhead and the jet boats on the river adjacent to the hotel. It made me realise just how many folks in Abi Dhabi have really expensive toys!
There was also a training session with the staff at Teatro at the Rotana Hotel who list several of our wines and on the last night a Misha’s Vineyard wine tasting was held for consumers at Yas Viceroy Hotel – a spectacular hotel set half on land and half on the water and literally straddles the Formula One Yas Marina Circuit race track! It was such a fun evening with some amazing canapé matches to the wines we presented. We are very lucky to be working with Eurostar Cellar who are such a great distributor in Abu Dhabi and I really look forward to getting back there again and visiting more of our accounts there.
I try and bring home some small gifts for our team at home when I can, so I decided that camels were the most appropriate thing from Abu Dhabi – chocolate camels! I watched them being made by the chocolatier at the Fairmont Hotel. They were absolutely delicious – yes I had to bring a souvenir home for myself too!