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denise asleep on the Munich-Vienna trainYou can meet the most wonderful people at the back of a bus. Being on the ‘right’ bus of course helps, the final night bus to Shoreditch probably isn’t going to cut it, nor the X40 to Oxford at any time of day.

The hang-out for the famed EWBC Back of the Bus Crew, was indeed rather special. A fluid mix of fellows had a ball during the post-EWBC trip to Burgenland. In retrospect there might just have been a tad too many Americans, they do seem to be everywhere at the moment so you have to make allowances I suppose. Three members of the BotBC, turned out to be wine makers. Clever people are wine makers…

At one point the jovial bus atmosphere (who mentioned hangovers??) was enlivened by the passing round of a bottle of a damn-decent Portuguese red (Quinta do Mouro, 2006, Estremoz) No glasses of course, this is a back of a bus afterall. My tweet announcing the consumption sans-glasses caused some consternation with the more serious front-of-the-bus-gang. The bottle was presented by Ceci, a student at a Dijon based School of Business, who also happens to write a blog (http://www.vinouslyspeaking.com/) – not surprising really, this being a wine bloggers trip an’all.

Two of the winemakers, while of American extraction, are based at vineyards in the South of France. Firstly there was the highly entertaining Ryan O’Connell. Earlier, over gigantic plates of ribs in a ‘typical, rustic-touched authentic Viennese eatery’, we had a little play at blending two of his pressings, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot. I had favoured a large Cab. component just laced with about 10% or 20% Merlot. Others around our end of the chunky dark wood table took a different route and preferred a Merlot dominated blend. All in fun of course, I don’t recall Ryan making copious notes in response to our offerings but when faced with those delicious sticky ribs I really wouldn’t have expected him too. He did sample all our blends, although the slightly exasperated look and sigh on trying mine might have been simple disappointment or a realisation that he has more Merlot to play with than Cabernet! Ryan works at his parents vineyard in the O’Vineyards in the Vin de Pays Cite de Carcassonne [Snooth /Adegga].

Amy Lillard is the other back-of-the-bus-crew-American-winemaker. With husband Matt Kling they have been producing wines from the La Gramiere vineyards since 2005. An estate in the outer reaches of the Rhone, La Gramiere, is “located just below the medieval village of Castillon du Gard”. I’ve a bottle of the 2008 Le Gramiere breathing in an over-sized, totally-impractical decanter as I type; it’s a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, (not sure of the exact composition) that I am patiently waiting to sample alongside this evenings Pieminister Steak and Kidney. Their wines are available in the UK from Naked Wines I believe. It is a tiny estate with very small production. [Snooth/Adegga]

Crew membership also encompassed Thomas Lippert; a very interesting fellow – A German blogger who works for the Heidleberg Winery in Baden as Wine Maker. Thomas tweets under the winzerblog moniker. Yet to sample his wines…

I should point out that The Wine Sleuth was also a fully paid up member at least between her frequent spells of snoring; others with temporary membership included a delightful Chinese girl whose name I didn’t catch, also a student at the Dijon School of Business, Michael Oudyn of Wine Tripping fame and the wine worlds famous Brett Jones, a cross between Terry Jones and Sergeant Wilson, as some wag suggested… as you can see an eclectic mix of stimulating and interesting personalities. I was there too…

[The photo shows Denise the Wine Sleuth in typical pose, not on the bus but on the Vienna-bound train shortly before leaving Munich].

6 Comments »

  1. Andrew,
    I absolutely love this post! It was a great “Back of the Bus” group and certainly a major highlight of my EWBC! I think I developed a six pack abs (or 2 three packs according to Brett) from all the laughing we did! Some people count down the days until Christmas, I am counting down the days until the next time the BothB Crew is reunited – EWBC 2011 … if not sooner? I am going to have to link to this post when I recap EWBC 2010 on my blog! Miss you all a ton!
    - Ceci
    One of the many Americans from the BothB!

  2. Cheeky sod! What else is there to do once the wine is all gone but rest up for the next round of tastings? ;)
    p.s. I think I have a pic of me picking my nose which might be marginally better then the pic of me you’ve posted (I should sue for defamation or libel or slander or something….):P

  3. Amy Lillard says:

    I didn’t think about it at the time, but I guess you were truly surrounded by Americans and winemakers. I often have to remind myself that I am both… Sorry if we influenced the atmosphere a bit too much!
    Curious to know what you thought of the wine in the end??
    It was great to spend some time with you!
    Amy

  4. It seems I should have come to the back of the bus, then. We missed a lot, up front ;-)

  5. It was a joy to get to know you Amy – on the bus and on the vineyard visit – your wine was lovely; a bit too young perhaps but very drinkable. I really should have written a proper note.. another bottle required!

  6. Next time, I am definitely taking the same trips as you & Sleuthy. Even though you don’t want any more Americans in the BotBC, you know we just push our way into situations.

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