It's only too easy to imagine what Agatha Christie would have made of this – a tale set over a long weekend in a stately home with the eight merchants meeting up for a jovial weekend. Initially there are eight places set round a magnificent oblong table but soon one chair disappears, then another followed by another. Uneasy glances around the table – who will go next............?
Laytons were the first to go – bought by Jeroboams. Next, in 2008, Armit sold out to the Dutch Baarsma Wine Group. This year Majestic snapped up the ailing Lay & Wheeler.
I'm delighted that John Livingstone-Learmonth (http://www.drinkrhone.com/) has graciously agreed to supply odds on who will occupy that last chair around the dining-table, who will go next and, who, the Bunch might recruit if they decide to make up their numbers. Indeed it is understood that The Bunch are looking to recruit new members. "The wheels are in motion," commented Jason Yapp. Deservedly known as King Rhône, John is also a nonpareil when it comes to his mastery when setting odds – the likes of Magic Meg of Penge are but distant substitutes. Further details will be posted as soon as I have them from the Monarch of the Turf.
* Unfortunately this is incorrect as I have been rightly reminded by Jason Yapp (see below). There have only ever been seven members maximum at any one time. However, pleading artistic licence on behalf of Agatha, the table will continue to be set for eight.
Jason Yapp: 'At the risk of qualifying for Pedants Corner I must point out that the Bunch has never had 8 concurrent members.
Adnams, Armit, Corney & Barrow, Lay & Wheeler, Laytons, Tanners and Yapp.
When Laytons was sold (around 2000) we dropped to 6 and then BBR joined in, I think, 2002 taking us up to 7 again.
Then Armit withdrew their membership and we dropped back to 6 where we remained until Lay & Wheeler were bought by Majestic earlier in the year.
We were never 8 because that’s too many people to share a decent bottle of wine. That said I am hopeful that we will recruit a 6th member not least because logistically it’s a much better number if ever we colloborate on a mixed case offer.
While we wait for John's deliberations, here are details of the two Loire wines shown at the today's tasting.
Yapp Brothers showed the 2008 white Menetou-Salon from Domaine Teiller (£11.95), which was very typical 2008 – strong mineral character, very precise but with some palate concentration and good length.