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Jenny Mackenzie blogs from Jascots' Private Client Tasting

Published:  08 November, 2012

When a company is old enough to have seen one recession already, it should know how to weather a second. Jascots geared up for the expected rise in business during the 2012 Olympics by offering 24/7 London delivery as just one example of proactive customer service. The predicted tourist boom during the summer may not have happened for everyone, but Jascots still delivers six days a week, using its own vans, offering the flexibility many small, on-trade customers need.

Although best known as an on-trade and catering company supplier, Jascots has between 10%-15% retail sales (fluctuating, depending on each year's en primeur offer). Part of the retail sales success comes from running Wine Challenges - quiz evenings for corporate clients and 'prospects'. These are usually for 20 to 60 people, although can accommodate as few as 10 or as many as 120. They often take place in clients' offices and are run by Jascots' events director Ben Scott.

The Jascots Private Client Tasting is an annual event, timed for the Christmas season and was held this week at Gray's Inn. Jascots' full team of approximately 30 was manning the tables, with 50 wines on show covering all styles and prices. Director of purchasing is David Round MW, with all the staff allowed to have a say when tasting proposed new wines. The sales team finds this "much more interesting and useful than just being given wines to sell with no input". Another of Jascots' innovations is staff training for their customers, run by their in-house sommelier Raul Diaz.

The wines on show at Jascots' tasting highlighted the company's on-trade bias, with "food-friendliness" being a noticeable factor. My top picks from the evening were: (retail price inc VAT)

Bolney Sirrius Rosé 2009, England (£19.95)

UK fizz is now so well established that stylistic and regional difference is the talking point, no longer just "quality". This is a super lean, steely and elegant "aperiti" pink fizz from one of the top producers in West Sussex.

Domaine Laporte 'Le Rochoy'Sancerre 2011, France (£19.80)

Sancerre sells itself on most restaurant wine lists. There are, however, so many stylistic differences within the region. This is a lighter, restrained, subtle and complex example from a well-known producer.

Alain & Christiane Patriarche Meursault Vieilles Vignes 2010, France (£28.30)

White Burgundy is one of life's great pleasures but is so often disappointing quality-wise. Not here, this is "feminine" and pretty with the hand of restraint firmly on the barrel ageing.

Château de Bernon Castillon 2009, France (£9.65)

The Côtes de Bordeaux offers superb value against better known Médoc regions. This is a simple but well-made house red of essential broad appeal at this price point.

Celler Joan Sangenis Cal Pla Crianza 2007, Spain (£15.80)

Priorat is another must-have on any wine list. Equally popular with customers to drink at home, prices can be high. This is excellent value, with enough "tick-box" minerality, ripe fruit and a firm, savoury edge.

Mas de Madame Elégance Cuvée Réservée Robert Georges Sourina 2006, France (£16.60)

Sweet wines, aka stickies or dessert wines, come into their own at Christmas. Made from Muscat, with a similar profile to Sauternes, this is dense, unctuous and delicious.

The tasting was packed and really good fun, with the staff showing excellent customer-facing skills and team spirit. They always say it comes from the top with happy, well-run businesses and it certainly seems to be the case at Jascots.

Jenny Mackenzie,