7.40am, Tuesday 28th September, The Grassmarket, Edinburgh Old Town, Scotland the Brave, UK
It’s another grey old day, but I like it. Folks are always apologising for this sort of weather, but I tell them no … it’s barely into autumn and the place is already enveloped in greens and drizzly rain – which we never get enough of. I like it.
Yesterday was a big day. First we headed out of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth (the body of water above Edinburgh) and as we came off the bridge northern side, we entered “The Kindom of Fife”. Through this for 20 odd miles and into “Kinross shire – The heart of Scotland” for a bit, then into Clackmannanshire and the little town of Dollar.
Now Dollar sits at the bottom of some fairly serious hills and has quite a claim to fame because of the Castle Campbell which sits nearby at the head of the Dollar Glen – more or less on a ravine – above two rivers – the Burn (river) of Care and the Burn of Sorrow. This castle was the lowlands headquarters of the powerful Campbell clan because of its proximity to the Royal Court of Stirling – 11 odd miles away. Interestingly it became known locally as Castle Gloom – from the gaelic Glom for chasm.
You get it all with this blog. We don’t just bring you along on tour, we give you the extras!
What took us to Dollar was Graham Broom – our man in that area from Wine Importers – our new Scottish distributor. He had kindly arranged for us to show some of our wines at Reids of Dollar – the local delicatessen and wine shop. Reids is run by a delightful young bloke – Alistair – who does a lot of the baking for the deli (the last four bags of his biscotti just out of the oven went with us to our distributor’s office for afternoon tea!) as well as looking after the wine shop. That’s his tasting notes on luggage tags on all the bottles! We looked at the Jansz NV Rose, Handpicked Shiraz Viognier, 2009 Y Pinot Grigio, and the 2008 Scribbler – Alistair already has its big brother the 2003 Signature on the shelf. It’s always neat to see the different places that end up having our wines, and this spot is just magic. Come the Festive Season, the town gets a reasonable snowfall, and it would be like living in a picture postcard. And at the “Christmas in the Village” night this year, you may very well see the folks from Reids with some of our wines on for tasting – I’d love to be there. Thanks very much Graham and Alistair – it’s nice to be in that lovely corner of Scotland.
**As it was lunchtime, we followed the line of schoolchildren and road workers out the door and down the street from the local bakery – Stephens (est 1873). I got a ‘steak bridie’ – like a flat pastry pastie filled with shredded steak and gravy. Excellent roadfood – Scottish style.
Back into Edinburgh to “Thistle House” – the home base for Wine Importers, and we dropped in literally just to say hello and drop off Alistair’s biscotti. We met the gals who take the orders, met the boys who shunt everything from A to B and get the right wine to the right place on the right day, met Morag who does the PR and events, talked rugby with the Englishman John who runs the sales team – tried to convince him that rolling mauls and penalties was yesterday’s story for the English team , and met Billy who runs the whole thing. Mission accomplished and then we went on to do tastings with some of the Oddbins stores – always a stronghold for Australian wines up this way.
Out to Corstorphine Oddbins with Jonny & Pete, and we tasted the 2009 Pewsey Riesling & 2008 Heggies Chardonnay – both individual vineyards that are jewels in the Hill Smith Family crown – as well as the 2008 Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz. These wines are again – the pleasant surprise stylistically that folks are not expecting from Australia – and as long as we keep opening bottles, we keep winning new fans. Thanks Pete & Jonny – a whistlestop tasting and we were into the city centre and the Queensferry Street store for a “Meet the Winemaker” in-store tasting. Jane & Fabio looked after us here, and the 2 hours to 7pm flew past. I got talking to a lovely young bloke – very attractive – from Wollongong in New South Wales, and we were chatting away … then I asked him what he was doing in Edinburgh and he said studying. I asked what in particular and he turned his briefcase around – he is a Roman Catholic priest! Just my luck! Lovely bloke and really knows his wine. Then we had a stack of folks through – oil & gas exploration, lawyers, accountants, a journalist, some kids from uni doing engineering – a lovely mixed bag. We had the 2009 Pewsey Riesling, 2008 Heggies Chardonnay, 2008 Mawsons Wrattonbully Cabernet, and 2008 Scribbler open – and even sent some bottles home with proud new owners! Thanks Oddbins Queensferry and it was back to The Grassmarket for tea – another good day amongst it all in Edinburgh.
This morning we are going up to the top of The Royal Mile – the drive leading up to Edinburgh castle – as we have a complete portfolio tasting and lunch for the Wine Importers sales team and invited trade, so this will be our major introduction to their world, so we’ll need to be firing on all 8 cylinders today. See ya when it’s Tuesday night and I’ll be packing for tomorrow morning’s plane ride down to London.