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LIVE FROM 1PM: Lunch with a Buyer: Jo Locke MW, Tuesday 7th April 1-2pm

While our buyers are currently stuck at home, unable to traverse the world looking for great new wines for us, this seems like a perfect opportunity to get to know them a bit better! So we’re hosting some informal lunchtime Q&A sessions - and we’re starting with the wonderful Jo Locke MW.

Lunch with a Buyer: Jo Locke MW, Tuesday 7th April 1-2pm

Jo joined The Society in 2004. Her buying responsibilities include Alsace, Loire, South Africa and Portugal, including Port and Madeira.

She recently shared a story of finding forgotten gems on her wine rack while having a sort out during lockdown:

With a little more time on your hands at the moment, this might be a great opportunity to sort out your cellar, if you are lucky enough to have one, or garage in my case, where wine fights for space with a host of other accumulated, inherited, practical and downright nuisance stuff! I can’t claim to have stumbled upon this while doing so on this occasion, however. Not for the first time I’m ashamed to say, I had left some of my ‘laying down wines’ go past their drinking window. This [pictured above] was one, but no trepidation necessary. The wine is delicious, still full of fruit, now with a bit more interest too. Please don’t do as I do but enjoy testing your potentially past-their-best bottles while you have no guests to inflict them on. And I wish you the luck I’ve had!

On Tuesday lunchtime, Jo’s joining us for a Q&A - maybe you’ve got some forgotten wine gems of your own you’d like to ask about, or maybe you’d like to chat about one of the buying regions Jo’s responsible for? Join us for an hour - maybe even bring a glass of something along - for a fun discussion about all things wine!

How to take part

There’s no need to send questions in advance - although you’re welcome to, by replying to this topic - just log in to the Community before 1pm on Tuesday and there’ll be a ‘LIVE: Lunch with a Buyer’ topic where the event will take place. The chat will be in written format - like a regular topic here.

We hope you can join us! Who’s planning on joining us for lunch?

  • I’ll be there!
  • I can’t make it but I’ll send a question in advance

0 voters

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Technically I will be “at work”, but I think I can at least take my “lunch break” then.

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Can I ask a question in advance?

Can you demistify the MW world for us please? What was the journey like? Did you get better at tasting? What’s the most important idea or process you learned during it which you’ve taken into your wine career?

Oh, and what is the greatest bottle you have ever drunk?

Thank you so much (in advance) :grinning:

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I would be interested to hear about TWS port availability please. Only 2 tawny ports are listed. I very much like the 20yo Graham tawny port, but would love to have a bit more choice and opportunity to try other ones.

I am also very much interested in South African wines. A good choice is available and also some nice EP offers in the course of the year, so that is much appreciated. However, there are a lot of things going on there and I miss for example some Mullineux wines which are getting a lot of credit from various critics. Could TWS secure some of those for us to try?

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Sadly I’ll be working and probably on a video chat with someone talking about something less important than drinking lovey wine!

I enjoyed the Portugal offer last year, I thought the quality was excellent and real value for money. Jo, what would you recommend from the current list to buy once TWS opens up again?

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Hi Jo. I’m a big fan of Portuguese wines, we were lucky enough to go to the Dão wine fair at Nelas a few years ago. I was very struck by the high quality of the Encruzado white wines (and the Grão Vasco Reserva do Museu 1996). I’d love to see more of these available in the UK. Any chance of TWS doing this?

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Hello everyone, we will be starting this event at 1pm today, so be sure to check in and let us know you’re attending! Thank you for your questions so far, @lockej will be online at 1pm to start answering them for you.

Please feel free to ask Jo any other questions you might have - we’re thrilled to take this opportunity to chat with her!

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I’m here! :smiley:

I would like to ask Jo if she can share with us who are her favourite Alsace producers, and what she particularly likes about them. Thanks! :blush:

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Checking in, my questions are higher up in the thread. Looking forward to this!

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It was so long ago I have now largely forgotten the pain! I passed the exam (there was no Research Paper, or even long Dissertation in those days) in 1990, which I always say is my excuse for having forgotten everything. I certainly couldn’t pass the exam if I had to sit tomorrow. The world of wine was so much simpler then too. I don’t think the standard of the MW qualification is higher now, but it is a bigger, more complex subject and the whole organisation is far more professional, and students far more demanding. The journey was both stressful and exhilarating! Tasting ‘blind’ comes pretty easily to some but most people just get better through practice and familiarisation, like any training, so that by the time the exam comes along (when you hope you don’t have a cold!) you are match fit. You learn so much along the way but a systematic approach, exploring the options, and focusing on answering the question in hand with the ability to back up your argument have remained extremely valuable.

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I guess it is not obvious but we do work to planned range numbers. These are not just based on sales but that is the main factor and demand for Port outside En Primeur offers, and Christmas, is modest. The Christmas Fine Wine List tends to include a wider selection and Port and fortified occasionally appear in those pages at other times. There are usually a few extra Ports online too.

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And the greatest wine I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy - old Huet Vouvray, with the man who made it (Noel Pinguet).

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Hi Jo. I’m a big Loire wine fan (guess my pseudonym is a giveaway!) and have really enjoyed the ones you’ve been buying. I was wondering who you think are some up-and-coming growers to keep an eye out for? I’ve loved all the wines from Jérémie Mourat on the list, but are there other new ones you think are worth watching? Thanks!

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We have bought Mullineux in the past and I would hope to again but international demand is so high that there is now less to go around, and prices have gone up significantly.

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My favourites, for reliability and value, are our own Vinho Verde, the Ponte de Lima Vinho Verde, and the Pegōes white. New vintage red Old Vines Tinto, Monte Velho and Crasto are all on form.

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Hi Jo,

Alsace, Loire, South Africa, Portugal (inc Port and Madeira!) is a very wide and diverse portfolio. Does this make it easier or harder than just working within one region with a limited number of typical styles to choose between?

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We do buy a varietal Encruzado from time to time. Hoping there will still be an offer of Portuguese wines this autumn. Never heard of the wine you mention so will investigate!

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I’m sitting here with a glass of the community recommendation with my lunch (lovely wine, amazing value) and remembered that Jo is the buyer for South Africa.

I was scanning through ‘my wines’ yesterday, dreaming of the days when I can add to them :pleading_face:

I realised that my South African purchases are one of the highest price per bottle that I buy (excepting en primeur). This came as a surprise, but should it have done? What happened in South Africa to switch focus to a more premium market segment? Was one individual or company behind it or was it larger-scale than this?

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That’s a hard one. There are SO many! I love Pierre Gassmann. Despite his extraordinary new cellar he is so modest, so unassuming, so in touch with the land. Tastings with him are always a marathon but I could listen to his encyclopaedic knowledge for hours - and usually do! Severine Schlumberger is one impressive lady I have huge admiration for and given the sheer size of their operation the quality is exceptional.

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Hi Jo - I’d love to see something from Vallado, whose peers (Crasto etc) you already offer. Vallado’s Touriga Nacional and (especially) their field blend are widely available in Portugal, but rarely seen in the UK.

Good to hear your support for Mullineux. Their higher end wines are becoming pricey, but I wonder if their basic Kloof St might be something the Society might consider?

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