Harrow at Little Bedwyn owner Roger Jones presents a range of upcoming wine tastings and events featuring global winemakers
This September not only brings the start of the Rugby World Cup, but also the start of the wine-tasting season. For the next six weeks we will be bombarded with invitations, ranging from the big scrum tastings to the more exclusive, refined events.
Of course, many of these will be in London, but with most taking place on a Monday or Tuesday, and often two or three on each day, it certainly makes a trip to the capital worthwhile. But don't despair if you can't, as there are a few very good regional tastings coming up too. For a full list of events, go to the WSTA Trade Diary, which gives you a daily round-up of tastings and explains how to get an invitation.
These tastings are also a huge benefit for those of you wanting to learn more about wine. It's not all about buying - attending a tasting can be educational as well.
The Great Sherry Tasting
Monday 14 September
Westbury hotel, London
With masterclasses and real insights into many different types of sherry.
Liberty Wines tasting
Tuesday 15 September
The Oval, London
Liberty Wines will be showcasing its full portfolio, and you can look out of the tasting room and admire where England received the coveted Ashes this summer. Liberty Wines has one of the finest listings of wines in the UK and is a great merchant for small restaurants to deal with. It also provides a very good lunch.
Taste with Bibendum
Tuesday 15 September, London
Wednesday 16 September, Leeds
Bibendum is going on the road to showcase its prized southern hemisphere wines.
The Dirty Dozen
Wednesday 16 September
The Lansdowne Club, London
Twelve of the UK's most innovative importers will join to showcase some pretty special, artisanal wines. This really is a worthwhile event, as there are so many quality and great-value wines on show that are different to the norm.
Hallowed Ground and Swig portfolio tasting
Tuesday 22 September
The Pall Mall Room, Army and Navy Club, London
These two relatively small, independent merchants offer a top line of wines, especially from the New World. This is a rare opportunity to meet many winemakers.
The New Wave South Africa tasting
Thursday 24 September
The Vinyl Factory, Soho, London
South Africa is awash with a new generation of hip winemakers. In an attempt to bring some of their spirit and vitality to the UK market, a collection of importers has created the New Wave South Africa tasting. The group has invited the best of the New Wave winemakers at what promises to be one of the most exciting tastings of South African wines in the UK. The after-party promises to be quite a gig, too.
Cru Bourgeois 2013 Vintage tasting
Thursday 24 September
The British Academy, London
Email for further information.
Gonzalez Byass on-trade tasting
Monday 28 September
Royal Institute of British Architects, London
This tasting will highlight everything from Champagne Deutz to English sparkling wines, Coates & Seely ports from Quinta do Noval and, of course, Gonzalez Byass sherries.
Premium Australia tasting
Tuesday 29 September
Australia House, London
Wine Australia's inaugural Premium Australia Tasting will focus on the nation's exceptional wines above £10 retail. The tasting will tell Australia's premium wine stories through more than 500 world-class wines produced from 65 unique wine regions. There will be three masterclasses, and the first will be introduced by Jancis Robinson. Themes include an exploration into the history of Italian grapes in Australia nd the 'hip, hot and happening' wines of tomorrow.
Peter Gago hosts this event every year, and he will talk attendees through the prestigious wines in the Penfolds portfolio. This year includes Grange 2011, Yattarna 2013, Bin 707 Cab 2012 and RWT Shiraz 2013. It's invitation only, but it's worth getting on the waiting list.
Cape Winemakers Guild auction
Saturday 3 October
Spier, Stellenbosch, South Africa
The annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild auction always takes place on the first Saturday of October and showcases the finest and most exclusive wines produced by some of South Africa's leading winemakers in small quantities, exclusively for this auction.
These are one-off wines, sourced from select barrels or vines, and showcase the winemakers' very best. It is an honour to be invited to produce your wine for the auction. It's held in South Africa, but you can bid by proxy or telephone - with the Rand looking so good for us in the UK, this is a good time to buy.
Besides raising money for charity, in 2006 the Cape Winemakers Guild set up a protégé programme, which gives aspiring winemakers the rare opportunity to work side-by-side with members of the Guild during a three-year internship.
Wednesday 7 October
South African High Commission, London
This all-day tasting will concentrate on the South African wines available in the UK and feature food matching too.
Monday 12 October
Chandos House, London
Explore the terroir of Alsace through Riesling and Pinot Gris, with over 80 wines to try and a masterclass on what makes Alsace so special.
Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux annual tasting
Tuesday 13 October
Royal Opera House, London
If you've never been to the Royal Opera House, here is a chance to tick that box without seeing any singing. This prestigious event is a must for Bordeaux enthusiasts.
A Celebration of New Zealand wine
Friday 16 October
The Park House, Cardiff
With the All Blacks due to play their quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup the next day, New Zealand winemakers are gathering en mass in Cardiff and will be spending the Friday showing over 100 different premium New Zealand wines. The tasting, starting at midday, is set in a 19th-century gothic mansion overlooking Cardiff Castle.