2013 in music and my top 20 songs of the year

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Well that wasn’t a very good year for pop music, was it? We had to wait until November until we were given a half-way decent pop hook (Rihanna’s Monster chorus), but even that was replicating the exact same formula Ri and Slim nailed for the first time a few years ago.

Of last year’s two really big hitters, only Taylor came out with one great tune (“22″), but that was actually from 2012 and Carly Rae was nowhere to be seen.

The biggest summer sellers both used Pharrell in what must have been a very profitable year for him. And both tracks became the de facto back-to-back option for lazy DJs everywhere. “Blurred Lines” provided guilty pleasure plays long after its release and “Get Lucky”‘s brilliance was put to the test of being played to death. Unfortunately both failed. I haven’t voluntarily played either since August.

Elsewhere, Miley Cyrus has encouraged moral outrage across the country by being provocative. She’s outraged more people than even the Daily Mail managed to this year. And last time I checked, it has always been the role of a pop/rockstar to piss off the adults of the world. Teenagers love her and all your outrage is doing is helping her shift records. The only depressing thing about Miley is that she hasn’t recorded a decent tune since Party in the USA. Miley, be as naked as you like, but please get back in the studio with Jessie J asap.

Eminem brought out the MM2, which aside from the Monster was terrible. Kanye’s Yeezus flirted with trap too much to be anywhere half good (Bound 2 being the only exception), and the new Jay couldn’t even manage one good tune.

In RnB, Amel Larrieux released an exceptional album, which is probably my favourite longplayer of the year. It sounds like some late 90s RnB and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

The real blossoms (unsurprisingly for me, granted), were with dance music. Let’s first get the bad out the way. The deep house sound from the past two-to-three years, spurred on by the Jamie Jones’ of the world has entered the mainstream well and proper. MK’s Storm Queen remix was massive but not particularly inspiring (unlike his LDR take), Duke Dumont witnessed relative success for a good few months, and BrEaCh (sp?) saw to it that even the Radio 1 Breakfast show wasn’t without its house cuts. 

But the best thing about deep house’s entering into the mainstream has been the need for the underground to recreate itself (its been long overdue).

Todd Terje was the absolute victor this year. His edit of Lindstrom’s “Vos-Sako-Rv” was exceptional, and so underappreciated (yet when I played it out at a summer party this year, it killed it). But of course his “Strandbar” release has to be the one that constantly turned heads and wowed dancefloors everywhere. And when you got bored of Disko for its more in-your-face piano explosion, Samba took over to bring out the intracacies for months after.

Fort Romeau was my personal favourite producer of the year. In 2012, he was putting out harmless deep house that lounged its way through out soundsystems very unoffensively, but this year – my word! “Jetee” was an absolute banger uniting acid influences, hands-in-the-air breaks with truly melancholic piano in the space of 6 minutes. “Stay/True” was the real glory moment though. Weatherall-esque drugchug taking the acid thing even further produced exceptional tunes at well below the regular bpms.

The love for lower bpms for me this year was created by my greatest clubbing experience in five years (I.e. Clubbing zero one) as I found Rhythm Section. As if by magic at a time when I was getting utterly bored by the London club scene as it was sluggishly playing dull, insipid and uninventive four-to-the-floor house or techno for an audience that needed a head full of horse tranquilisers to appreciate anything more than 15 minutes of it, I found RS.

Rhythm Section, headed up by Bradley Zero, better known as ‘the guy in dreads’ in the Boiler Room videos, changed everything. Here I was dancing to music at anything from all over the world at any given tempo, and it all ignored the paint by numbers house and techno that every other club seemed to be playing. 100bpm never felt so natural to dance to. And my mix of the year is without a doubt the first RS show on NTS I heard: solidifying that early RS sound that I fell in love with: “Stop Bajon”, and “Rising to the Top.”

My love for disco expanded this year in tandem, and in particular with the re-edits scene. Fingerman’s “Too Much” and Late Nite Tuff Guy’s “I Want Your Love” mix (which admittedly isn’t a re-edit) stood out on top, but I could have easily put together a top 20 of re-edits that all sound as excellent today as they did when I first heard them this year, while simultaneously bringing some life back to forgotten originals.

There’s some jazz entering my heard properly for the first time outside of the Miles Davis and bigband canon that previously existed. The jazz influences on the King Krule album in particular were standout for me, and really impressed me with the modern genre-blurring he achieved. Dysnonia blew my mind as to what jazz could be, as did the Sons of Kemet album. My love for both comes from Gilles Peterson who also turned me on to countless other jazz sounds throughout the year.

Looking back, I got into the Philly Soul sound via hearing Tom Moulton’s incredible anthology that I only found this year. Likewise, a new appreciation for Screamdelica was found as I realised there was more to that record than Loaded.

Albums by The Range, Bilal, Jai Paul, Colin Stetson, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Rhye also all left a mark, in the pits of late night bus journeys, early mornings and soundtracks to loosing myself in books.

Vampire Weekend’s new long player was my surprise like of the year. I don’t often find many guitar-heavy albums that satisfying anymore, but the new VW LP was really excellent. The afrobeat influences from the first record are still there but the world music sounds have diversified even more, which was consistently refreshing with an album that got better with every play.

It was a great year for a lot of music. My dance music tastes broadended, RnB and guitar music seeped back in, but after last year’s great twelve months for pop, I was a tad disappointed this year. Still, you can’t win them all.

 

My top 20 songs of the year

20 – King Krule – A Lizard State
19 – Bilal – Lost for Now
18 – Kan SANO – Everybody Loves the Sunshine (Leftside Wobble Remix)
17 – Gil Scott Heron – Bottle (Disco Tech Rework)
16 – Andras – Running Late
15 – Romanthony – Ministry of Love (Andres edit)
14 – Fort Romeau – Jetee
13 – Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
12 – Amel Larrieux – Afraid
11 – Daft Punk – Get Lucky
10 – Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
09 – Chaos in the CBD – 78 to Stanley Bay
08 – For Romeau – Stay/True
07 – Fingerman – Too Much
06 – Late Nite Tuff Guy – Bless the Rains
05 – Taylor Swift – 22
04 – Sons of Kemet – Inner Babylon
03 – Lindstrom – Vos-Sako-RV (Todd Terje Extended Dub)
02 – Paul Simon – Diamonds (Ame Private Mix)
01 – Todd Terje – Strandbar (Samba Mix)

 

Albums of the year

Bilal – Love Surreal
Amel Larriux – Ice Cream Everyday
Dawn of Midi – Dysnonia
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
King Krule – Six Feet Beneath The Moon
Mountains – Centralia
Rhye – Woman

 

Top 20 songs of 2012

I am a huge fan of lists. To-do lists, checklists, and my favourite of them all – end of year lists.

This is a task I have undertaken before (2011, 2010) and have for some time now been looking forward to writing this years. ‘But it’s only the end of November’ I hear you shout in disdain. Well this is true, but I’ve had a brief look at what’s going to be released in next month and I don’t think much is going to take my fancy. Plus, time is a big factor in this process. It is more impressive that a song from January makes this list than it is a song released last week. Freshness always tricks you a little bit. I digress.

Without much further ado, here are my favourite 20 songs of 2012.

You can listen to them all on Spotify through this playlist.

20. Ultraista – Smalltalk (Four Tet Remix)

I first heard this at the beginning of a mix back in the summer. I then kicked off my October mix with. So it’s fitting that it is at the beginning of this list. Beautiful vocal made even more wonderful with Four Tet’s broken beat.

19. Sebastien Tellier – Cochon Ville

Little of Tellier’s work has ever stood up next to La Ritournelle and it probably never will, but Cochon Ville makes a valiant attempt albeit in an entirely different direction. Made even  better by the most nudity-filled video of the year.

18. Andrew Bird – Spirograph

Most of the music I listen to these days is driven by a beat, typically a four on the floor, but there are odd moments when a man and his guitar still makes it way into my listening. Spirograph is one of those moments.

17. fun. – We Are Young

This was my song of the moment for quite a few weeks after its release. It’s not as big on my listen-to-list anymore, but when it comes on shuffle, it still has its definite pride of place.

16. Kanye West – White Dress

MBDTF is still my favourite hiphop album of all time, but there are moments when I miss the old Kanye. Pre-autotune, pre-terrible albums with Jay-Z, pre-baroque pop and grand orchestration. I miss the College Dropout days and White Dress is a wonderful throwback to that.

15. The xx – Angels

Standout from this year’s album and even through its overuse for television, this remains a great tune.

14. Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments

I had heard a lot of Jessie’s voice through various house remixes this year, but I only recently listened to her music in its original form and wow. Wildest Moments is simply sublime. I’ve only heard it a handful of times but I know it’s going to grow and grow and grow. Of all the British female musicians at the moment, Jessie Ware stands miles above the rest.

13. Dusky – Lost Highway

This has to be my favourite house tune of the year, that I didn’t put on one of my mixes. The synth chords guide this feel-happy tune, but the real highlight is the two part drop after the main break. Listening to it takes me back to summertime even with the rain beating down outside.

12. Otto Knows – Million Voices

I’m not much a fan of progressive house generally, though about once a year a song comes through that’s just in your face brilliant. This will have you smiling from cheek-to-cheek. Particularly amusing is seeing the YouTube comment thread where fans debate how the lyrics should be written (my preference is for Eh Ah etc rather than E A).

11. Stay+ – Crashed

Crashed finds itself at the crossroads of The XX, garage, house and trance. While there are moments that are a little cheesy, the sum of all its parts make for a stellar tune.

10. Hot Chip – Flutes

Hot Chip outdid themselves with their long player this year, an absolute classic in my eyes and Flutes just about clinches my favourite song on it.

9. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

This was released in January, although it has become such a classic that it feels like it’s been in my life even longer. I’m hit or miss with Todd Terje, but this is hit, hit, hit.

8. Russ Chimes – Back 2 You (Hot Since ’82 Remix)

The original of this is patchy, but Hot Since 82 really make this tune something. Less can be said of his Pete Tong remix.

7. Lana Del Rey – Ride

Dark-pop princess LDR had it pretty good this year and any fears that Video Games would be a one-off were appropriately quelled. Lyrically she is on fantastic form here, and the “I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy” is one of those incredibly simple moments in writing that could not be written better in any other way.

6. Ry & Frank Wiedemann – Howling/Howling (Ame remix)

Yeah I know it’s cheating to put both in but I love them both equally depending on my mood. The acoustic original is a brilliant example of why more house producers should take the reigns with producing indie tunes, and the Ame remix kills it. Hearing Maceo drop it at Warehouse Project was one of my moments of the year.

5. Julio Bashmore – Au Seve

This song must have been dropped about ten times at Eastern Electrics and I missed all of them. Thank God I heard it dropped at Sancho Panza at Carnival because there was little more I wanted to hear it through a soundsystem from the moment I first heard it. Song of the summer without a doubt.

4. Hot Natured – Benediction

The Hot Natured crew did a remarkable job stopping this from leaking. Every time it went up on YouTube from either Jamie Jones’ closing set at Paradise/DC10 or his essential mix, it was taken down almost instantly. Which doesn’t help when all you want to do is play it on repeat. It does help build anticipation though, and so it unsurprisingly hit the UK top 40. “I feel like our love has found a home” Ali Love sings about his first discovery of Space in Ibiza. I’m sure many will feel the same about this song.

3. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad” has been a lyric of much discussion for me this year, because frankly I think it’s one of the greatest lyrics of the year. The kind of allusion to a feeling that pop doesn’t ever usually hit in any context, yet alone with this eloquence or passion. Absolute best part of this song is the break, and nothing else this year comes close to that.

2. Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Cyril Hahn Remix)

I used to slate Annie Mac for being too mainstream, then I actually started checking our her tracklistings and realised she champions new, underground music extremely well. This absolute gem was one of those championed pieces. I have listened to this song to an almost obsessive degree and it still gets better. The video is here, and if I can blow my own trumpet for a moment, it’s place in my October mix was probably one of my favourite 15 minutes I’ve ever done.

1. Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

I had a hard time deciding whether this, Cyril or Carly should be my number one, but since putting this list together and hearing it in order, I know I was right to put it at number one. Bubblegum pop shouldn’t ever, nor has it ever, been this fucking good. The ‘oohs’ in the pre-chorus make even the most reluctant singers want to burst out into horrendously camp song. The ‘indie record’ line will make anyone who’s ever been remotely snobbish about music, start wondering if they’ve ever done that (yes, we probably have).

It’s just so good. The fact this sits on top of the Billboard Country chart is absurd but hilarious. But it’s the fact it reached the elusive number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 that is really telling. Let’s hope her career carries on with the same arc that it has so far, because if it does, we could be looking at a new queen of pop.

Post by Joshua Lachkovic

on food

I was having a conversation with a colleague last week, where we were both discussing our passion for food.

During that conversation, I said the following,

“When you’re at a dinner table with someone, there’s absolutely nothing else going on in the world apart from the conversation you’re having with that person, and the food that has brought you together. And when cooking at home, the ability to provide that – the setting, the delicious food, and to facilitate that conversation and mood – is wonderful.”

 

As such, this has rather inspired me to start writing about food as well.

One of the reasons that blogging/writing outside of work has taken such a toll is time. Of which, I wish that there was far, far more of it. So if at any stage, as almost every blogger does, I simply stop writing, you will know why.

I don’t plan the writing to be extensive, it will be very bloggy – the shorter and punchier it is, the more likely I am to do it – and if nothing else will hopefully act as a reminder of things I’ve cooked, eaten, and drank that I love or hate. And a mental memo of that kind is always nice.

So without much further ado, you can read the blog here: “Eggs Benedict and a glass of fizz.”

Notes on James Bond: Goldfinger

Goldfinger

Fantastic, short and sweet pre-credits intro. Realised that this is the second film that the Dom Perignon ’53 has been brought up by name and year. Pocket squares alternative from square to triangles for the first time, and change throughout. DB5 introduced.

Martinis: 1

Sour Mash “but not too sweet please.”

The fight between Oddjob and Bond is brilliant.

Another great drinks exchange:
Felix: ‘Liquor for three’
Bond: ‘Who are the other two?’
Felix: ‘Oh there are no other two’

Overall, fantastic, best Bond out of the first three. Solid storyline, good lines, well-paced, the best story out of all of them even if the nuke Fort Knox plan does seem a little preposterous, although given the economic outcome, fascinating to consider.

Overarching feeling, however, that – if you are head of a criminal organisation/terrorist group – and you get a 00 agent in your hands, you’d probably just kill him.

Which leads me to the interesting point on ego, which seems to be a huge theme. If it wasn’t for the enemy’s ego in needing to impress Bond, then most of the time they’d get away with it. Likewise, if it wasn’t for Bond’s ego, he wouldn’t get ensnared by so many women so often, who typically lead to his downfall (and then so far, happily lead to his victory at the end).

Watching three in quick succession has made me see how formulaic they are.

Definite standout, however, will be hard to beat.

Notes on James Bond – Dr. No & From Russia with Love

So next month (October) is the 50th anniversary of Dr. No. As the sort of person who likes watching series’ in big and fast swoops, I’ve kinda decided to watch all the Bonds between now and then/when the next film is out, from the start.

And considering I can’t actually remember that many of them in that much detail, it’s actually quite fun. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on each film as I watch them.

Will update as I go.

Dr. No

Brilliant first Bond film. Really solid storyline, great action even if it obviously does look very dated. Great introduction to Spectre. Interestingly, I realise that I had forgotten almost all of the film, with the exception of the infamous Ursula Andress moment.

Bond’s Martinis: the first time explicitly referred to as ‘not stirred’ and the second with the infamous ‘shaken not stirred’ line.

From Russia with Love

Slow-paced. Far too much of it happened on a train, which doesn’t help pace. Felt a little formulaic in that – you think someone’s good, but then they’re bad, they almost kill Bond, he kills them, ad infinitum. Best moment was realising the Spectre storylines are ongoing, something I seem to have forgotten since childhood.

Martinis: None to recollection, though there was a smug (read: great) moment when Bond criticised one of his captors for drinking red wine with fish.

Prison Cells at The Viaduct Tavern: the power of storytelling

This week I had the chance to go on a walking tour in surrounding areas near where I work. This, despite my love for London’s history, was something I expected to be rather lame.

Yet the evening was fantastic. History behind pubs that I frequent, interesting tales about Smithfield market, gory anecdotes and many, many stories about ghosts were all fascinating.

Now, I’m a believer in logic, science, and a natural sceptic, so ghosts are something that I do not believe in. This was not changed throughout the course of the evening.

The final stop of the tour was opposite the Viaduct Tavern in the City. As our tourguide told the stories about the Old Bailey and where people were once hanged, he then drew our attention to the pub we’d been stood next to: a gin palace, with jail cells beneath it.

“If you are lucky, talk nice to the bar staff,” he said “and the pub is empty enough, you will be able to go downstairs and take a look around.”

Two of our group stayed for a number of drinks in hope of the tour, which we received. And the cells were tiny. “Up there,” the barman said pointing towards a tiny hole in the ceiling, “is where food was dropped from.

“Down here,” he continued, pointing at the floor, beneath that hole “was the toilet.”

I asked about the ghost, which is said to haunt the area. “I never used to believe in ghosts, before working here.”

As a non-believer, I was not fearful of seeing a ghost, yet I will freely admit that if I had been left alone in there, without the hum of the barrel-cooling machines or light, the eeriness would have made for quite a frightening experience.

The truth about the prison cells at the Viaduct Tavern

This morning, I learnt the truth – that they are not cells at all, just a simple pub cellar.

Of course now I’ve read that blog, it all makes sense. The tiny cells, which I described in detail to colleagues at work the next day, were for beer barrels.

This had all been an elaborate ruse, and I – the sceptic and contrarian – had played the part of the fool.

The power of storytelling

If I was to visit that cellar now, I would not have the same sense of eeriness that I felt that evening. I could stand there with the lights out, no noise other than the natural noises of a cellar and think nothing of it. It would just be a cellar.

I’ve realised that there was a concession that I made subconsciously.

I did not believe every word the tour guide told, because I do not believe in ghosts. Which meant that with every part of his tour there was a significant segment that I thought ‘that’s nice, but obviously not true.’

What this meant was that I did believe all of the other parts. So while the stories of the poltergeist in those cells was false, the fact there were cells was clearly true. That I then managed to play the part of the story he’d predetermined – having a drink, waiting around, nicely asking the bar staff and then getting to see the cells- it was a given that I was going to believe it. Those spaces I saw could have only been prison cells.

Does it matter?

On the one hand, probably not. The ghost stories were entertaining and it created a wonderful atmosphere amongst the group. But on the other, it means I now doubt the other truths which he told.

Still, it’s a nice story. And I imagine should I ever be amongst some strangers near to the Viaduct Tavern, with a taste for storytelling and tomfoolery, I may just let the truth slide, because frankly, it’s far more entertaining.

Photo credit.

Planning for a week away in France

Everyone is asking on Twitter – just what on earth are we all going to do with ourselves, once this thing is over? That’s a good question indeed. It’s got me thinking about an idea I toyed with earlier on this afternoon.

Last week at work, I put all my remaining holidays in for work. As I don’t have any actual holidays planned, I mostly went for the odd days but I got myself an entire week in November. And what am I going to do?

Originally, I was just going to hang around London and do a load of things that Londoners never do. But I can see what will happen with that – I just won’t do nearly as much as I should do.

So I was watching Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, as one does when there’s nothing decent on TV (almost always), and it got me thinking. Not for the first time, I realised how much I want to go to France. I’ve only ever done Paris before. Once a few years ago, which I loved, and once as a child (apparently) though my memory of that trip is about as good as my French.

French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David remains my cooking bible, and try as I might, I can’t decide on a region that I prefer. My gut goes with Provence, but quite why I’m not sure.

I am very much in the honest, homely and hearty food camp, which won’t be at all surprising considering Keith Floyd and Elizabeth David are my two food heroes. And with that in mind, whilst the food I ate in Paris was fantastic, what I really want to experience is authentic Provincial cooking.

So I am in the process of planning a trip to France in my week off. The only thing is it’s on a tiny budget. In that when I tweeted earlier asking what’s the cheapest possible way to get to and stay in France for a week, that remains my mission.

So if anyone has any tips or recommendations of somewhere to go (cheap being a kicker), recommend away.

Photo credit.

As the world depresses, house music gets happy

Over the past half-decade, the makeup of the UK house and techno scene has changed significantly. When I started getting into electronic music around 2007, the techno and house scene was entirely alien to me. I started going to the Mulletover event nights, which happened once a month in London.

DJs and producers such as Matt Tolfrey, Damian Lazarus, Sebo K, Jamie Jones, Anja Schneider and Nima Gorji dominated the lineups and the sets of events. The warehouse-vibe was still comparatively fresh and for a good couple of years, there was a sound.

The Berghain sound and scene influenced the music production and style in London. London’s house scene was very minimal – dark, sparse, minimal. Vocals were almost nowhere to be found. Where vocal samples had been used, they were so chopped up and bastardised, you could barely make sense of the words anyway. Almost all of the music was synthesised. There were no guitars or orchestral instruments; it was all synth-led.

The music was unreservedly dark.

And that’s the way it was for a good couple of years. That’s how we liked it.

When I started going clubbing and listening to the music at home, it was 2007/2008. The first signs of the recession had begun in the US, but the UK was still doing okay – at least compared to the years that followed.

It provided a stark contrast to the clubbing scene. In January 2008, unemployment had fallen for 15 consecutive months. For those same 15 months, the house scene was eerily dark and confined to warehouses. The idea of afternoon or beach parties – though they happened – seemed alien to me, as this was very much music to hear in a club.

As unemployment shot up for the following three years, the music changed too.

With other music, as recessions roam, the music kicks off against the establishment. The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Smiths – all were born out of an age of unemployment and recession. They fought back with music and sang for the angry, downtrodden, or generally unhappy.

House music around 2010, on the other hand, did the opposite.

I remember hearing Jamie Jones’ ‘Ruckus’ and Mic Newman’s ‘Sizzled Sally’ and being utterly shocked. Balearic guitars and pianos filled songs by Jamie Jones, who just a year prior had put out ‘Don’t You Remember The Future?’ – a tech-house album that I have now forgotten almost entirely.

And the music continued to change. Miami and LA and Croatia started to influence things more so than Germany did.

The music now is so much brighter and warmer. The tech influences from five years ago have almost disappeared in much of the music I hear now. Now it feels more natural to listen to house music with the sun shining, than it does at 3am in a dirty warehouse.

I find it interesting that unlike other music genres, the recession has brought out the happier and brighter side of house music. Perhaps, there’s something naturally escapist about electronic music – and when things get worse in life, it’s better to conjure a happy sound than it is dancing to nine-minute long German minimal techno.

 

It’s the tenth anniversary of Original Pirate Material


Tomorrow (25 March) it is the tenth anniversary of one of my favourite albums: Original Pirate Material.
I’ve written a little piece on it for The Spectator Arts Blog, which you can read here.

My wonderful evening at Green and Blue Wines, East Dulwich

Green and Blue Wines, East Dulwich

Green and Blue Wines, East Dulwich. Photo by Ewan-M.

EAST DULWICH, 8th March – Around 7.20pm, I walk in to Green and Blue Wineson Lordship Lane. I have been invited along for a wine tasting and supper. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was certainly looking forward to it. After all, I am a great appreciator of wine (even if my knowledge is somewhat amateur) and food.

I was one of six to have been invited along through Twitter. I was first of the guests to arrive and Kate, the owner of Green and Blue greeted me, offered me a glass of wine and introduced me to her father who would also be joining us.

The second guest to arrive was Nik Darlington, and Kate was quick to point out that the two of us shared something in common. Nik and I had never met before, but we both follow each other on Twitter. This was the first sign that Kate was a fantastic host. Whether our shared interest and social media circle was the plan or a happy coincidence, the fact it was brought up was brilliant of her.

I have only ever been to one tasting event before – a whisky tasting in Oxfordshire, which was fantastic fun. The thing I took home most from that was how little I knew about scotch, yet there was no air of superiority between those who knew nothing and knew a lot. There was part of me that feared wine would be different; that we at least should know more about wine.

The Green and Blue Bar

The Green and Blue Bar

The fears were displaced as Kate reminds us that wine is, more than anything, about pleasure. While I cannot remember all of her introduction, it is clear that their ‘company philosophy’ is not just advertising copy placed to differentiate them in the wine market, they really believe it.

Kate knows her stuff about wine and the pleasure she finds from it really gets through to you as she’s talking about it. She – and the whole evening – was entirely unpretentious. If we preferred the less complex wine that was fine and with a couple of the wines, that was the case for me.

During dinner as Kate was sat with us, I raised my scepticism about the organic and biodynamic philosophy which they take. As she said, we have now gotten to the stage where we realise that an organic and well-raised chicken is going to taste far superior to a battery-farmed one, and we validate the cost. Yet, we have not yet made the same distinction with wine. The biggest argument of course, is that the mass-produced, non-organic wine is still very good. A lot of it is crap, but you can get some fantastic wines without going down the organic or biodynamic route. The first wine of our tasting was a comparison between Moet (which I now know the correct pronunciation of) and the Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus. The Larmandier-Bernier was a fantastic champagne and you really could tell the difference from the Moet, which in comparison seemed to force bubbles upon you. Perhaps there’s something to this organic stuff, I thought.

****

The whole evening was perfect; great food (pumpkin for starter and absolutely stunning pork belly for the main), really brilliant company and great wine. I realise that I haven’t, as a professional food or wine critic might, gone into explicit detail about all of the wines and food.

I am not an expert, nor am I food or wine critic. I simply love food and wine, and for a wonderful evening in early spring, I was brought together with seven others who shared that passion. Convivial, passionate and educational; what more you could you want from an evening?

****

GREEN & BLUE, LORDSHIP LANE

38 Lordship Lane
East Dulwich
London
SE22 8HJ

T: 0208 693 9250
F: 0208 693 9260

www.greenandbluewines.com