Issue # 1                                                                                            September 2015

First blast from the Bugle! 

With just over a month to go before the seventh (7th!) James Busby Travel trip to Australia we thought it was high time to unveil the inaugural newsletter.
Welcome to the Busby Bugle, the first of what will be a biannual bulletin of news, views and updates from the Busby Alumni and the wineries they visited. 

They say you shouldn't blow your own trumpet but we're pretty proud of what our Busby travellers have been up to since their visit so we thought we'd keep you updated with their career moves, personal milestones and Australian wine activities. 
As well as dispatches from the Alumni community, you'll also find winery news, vintage reports and details of our in-market reunions. Subsequent newsletters will contain tour reports written by the travellers themselves.
The audience for the Busby Bugle are past travellers and winery hosts, but please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think would be interested. Tuck in!

Have you checked out the new website? Just click below 

ALUMNI NEWS

Our Alumni community currently stands at 91 (and is set to pass 100 next month) and I'm delighted to report that we're still in touch with each and every one of them. Since their trip many of the Busby Alumni have changed jobs, set up their own businesses and even become proud parents. Plus there've been in-market tastings, reunions and winemaker visits. Read on for news of all this and more.  

Class of 2010 
Dani Shelton returned to Australia in 2014 and helped out Mac Forbes at vintage (as did Katie Exton, Alumni of 2012, who was a full time member of Mac's V14 team). Donald Edwards has exchanged his sommelier hat for his winemaker trousers and has just launched the maiden vintage of a Ferment / Harslevelu blend from Tokaji (Hungary) having previously been running his own pop-up restaurant in East London, the Peckham Bazaar, innit. Meanwhile Tamsin Jones has recently left the building at Wadebridge Wines to start her own project in a beach hut at Polzeath in Cornwall, the Carruan Cafe, just up the road from fellow Alumni Jason Weight (May 2014) at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant. In other news Mike Harrison has recently been appointed Head of Fine Wine at Bibendum PLB, Gustavo Lo Bianco is another Somm-turned-Buyer at Berkmann, whilst Becky Leach has changed aisles from Majestic to Marks & Spencer. Romain Auderie is in charge of managing the wines and A-list celebrities at the ubertrendy Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone whilst Christophe Richelet and Dani Shelton have both become freelance consultants, both based in London. Nothing has been heard of our tour mascot Jancis the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo since the night in the shed at Some Young Punks when she was led astray on a heady cocktail of cigarettes, alcohol and lamb chops. For all we know she could be still perched up a gumtree somewhere behind Sevenhill Cellars dropping fag ash and guano on unsuspecting cyclists riding along the Riesling trail to this day. 
Class of 2011
We'll kick off Alumni 2012 with news that Ali Cooper has opened his own wine bar and restaurant in Oxford called 1855 Wine Bar and Bistro. Don't be put off by the name, which I imagine is some reference to the overpriced Cab-Merlot blends of South West France, as the wine list is brimming with natural goodness from all over the world, including Australia, so next time you're in Oxford drop in and murder a good bottle. Sonal Holland has been appointed Divisional Head India of Wine & Beverage at the ITC Hotel group. She's also started up her own YouTube channel, which is well worth checking out at Sonal Holland Wine TV. Meanwhile in Nordic news Jan Petersen has swapped his photojournalist gilet with multiple pockets and cameras (think Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now) for a business suit and buyers hat as co-founder of Dala Wines, a new company set up to supply Swedish restaurants. Check out their smart new website.
Matthew Hemming MW is the first of a number of Alumni to have achieved those two magic letters after his name since his visit to Australia. See also Jennifer Docherty MW (2012) and Vicky Stephens Clarkson MW (2013). Matthew is Fine Wine buyer for Averys of Bristol, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John Avery's first buying trip to Australia the company has been putting on a series of Australian promotions and tastings this year which have included Penfolds, Yalumba, Tyrrells and McWilliams. In addition since his Busby trip Matthew tells me has listed wines from Vasse Felix, Ocean 8 and Elderton, so he's to be admired for more than just his dance moves, which they still talk about in hushed tones at The Settlers Tavern in Margs. Richard Hemming (no relation and hopefully soon-to-be MW) hosted a Semillon Seminar at Australia House as well as continuing to write about Australia on Jancis' site and other UK publications. At least that's the extent of what he admitted to me. What is of much greater interest to the Busby Bugle is that Richard was the founding member and brains behind "Skin Côntact", a Wine Trade Super Group featuring Alex Hunt MW, Anne McHale MW and a guy called Ben Smith who works for Concha y Toro and improbably was in 80s beret wearing one hit wonders Curiosity Killed the Cat. Skin Côntact played in March at Vinopolis in London and raised over £10,00 for Wine Relief. You can see photos of the gig, plus Neal Martin on the decks and Tim Atkin doing his best Joe Cocker impersonation here 
http://www.skincontactlive.com/blog/  
In other news
Senthil Kulandhaisamy is the proud father of twin baby girls and has recently taken up a post at Australian Vintage UK. Emily O'Hare, she of the golden pen and honeyed blogs, has taken a sabbatical year out to eat all the good food and drink all the good wine in Italy. She may be some time.   
Class of 2012
Lets begin 2012 news with all things Vinoteca. In March Charlie Young and his team opened Vinoteca Kings Cross, their fifth site and biggest and most ambitious venue to date. Vinoteca are also celebrating ten years in business this year, and we're delighted that Charlie's business partner Brett Woonton will be joining us on this October's trip. Mac Forbes dropped in to hold a customer tasting earlier this year (nice to see he's rocking the big hair again) and Vinoteca continue to pioneer the serving of high quality wine by the keg and large format BIB. Charlie tells me he is constantly on the lookout for high quality, regional Australian wines he can serve by the glass, a recent success being Luke Lambert's Crudo, modelled here by Emma, Jonathan and Gus, who were clearly watching The Ashes coverage from Trent Bridge when this photo was taken. 
It's all change for Joao Pires MS, who has moved from Heston's Dinner in London to the more exotic shores of Macau where he is Wine Director at The City of Dreams mega-complex. He has also become a father of Isabella Jane who is coming up to 18 months (photo above). He's been keeping the Australian flag flying with recent dinners for Penfolds (to mark the purchase of one of those special Ampoules) and William Downie, pictured here (above right) with wife and business partner Rachel Needoba. Bill's legendary beard gets around, and can be seen photo-bombing in Japan (above left), with Yoshiko Takahashi, who has set up her own consultancy Y'n Plus in Tokyo. Congratulations to Jennifer Docherty MW, buyer at Liberty Wines, for passing the Master of Wine with apparent ease. In more Nordic news, both Daniel Turpeinen (Sweden) and Terje Meling (Norway) are heading up new import companies. Terje is in charge of the selection at Best Buys, a company specialising in organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Daniel heads up Quaffable Wines, which was launched last December and is part of the Vingruppen partnership, a group of five independently run import companies each with their own speciality. Quaffable focuses on wines based on "freshness and elegance" and Daniel says that "We work with wines from all over the world but the cool climate styles of Australia lie close to my heart and will be an important part of the portfolio". Skål to that!
In other news Minoru Numata MD of the wonderfully named Taste and Fun Co Ltd recently took part in an Australian A+ Inspiring Wine tasting in Tokyo, nominating Pinots from Bindi and William Downie (photo above left). The recently married Katie Exton (congratulations Katie!) was part of the 2014 vintage team at Mac Forbes in the Yarra Valley. Meanwhile across the pond in Canadialand Richard Harvey, aka The Godfather, reports that sales of Australian wine at Metrovino, Calgary have grown apace since his Busby trip. Richard says 
"I continue to militate for the Ochotas, Pannells, Lamberts and Paxtons by talking of Australian "soul" and not some bullshit gold medals or some wretched points.  These guys have done more to put a human face back onto Australian wine, and opened the door to others of similar philosophies.  My (all more youthful) staff "get it" by having been introduced to the above mentioned wines, so all I can claim to be doing is continuing that evangelical path (maybe old hat in the UK, but not here…fucking Layer Cake and brands that are zombies..they are animated but in reality, dead, dead, dead…). Banality still reigns, but can't go unchallenged." 
Well said that man!
Richard also mentions a wish to see 
regional delegations (from GI or state) come to spread the word of diversity. You heard The Godfather, now pass it on or else you'll be sleeping with the fishes. 
Harley Carberry reports he's keeping it Vegas Style and continues to grow and develop the Australian selection at Mandalay Bay Resort. He says Australia needs to do more trade tastings with producers in town, and that he's very happy to host visiting winemaker dinners and tastings. Now who needs an excuse to go to Vegas? 
Finally in major merger news from China Marcus Ford GM at Pudao Wines writes: 
"In December of 2014 Summergate and Pudao wines were acquired by the Woolworths liquor group of Australia. Marcus and his team have been working closely with their new Australian partners on new business development opportunities and future cooperation across the region. Whilst its too early to talk specifics its clearly a very exciting time for the teams across Greater China!".
Watch this space. 
Class of 2013 
BABY NEWS INCOMING! You'll remember that Louisa Fitzpatrick from St Austell Brewery very gamely came on the 2013 whilst seven months pregnant.  The photo above shows her little girl Iris who will be two at the end of the year, and who we are of course claiming as our first (and only) Bouncing Busby Baby. I'm delighted to report that Louisa and husband Adam are expecting their second girl in September, which didn't stop Louisa being at Glastonbury in June to watch Florence and The Machine headlining on the Saturday night. I'm sure after two weeks on a Busby tour the mosh pit in-front of the main stage at Glasto was a breeze. In other baby news Eddie Wilson, who you'll remember dabbles in a-little-bit-of-retail-and-a-little-bit-of-wholesale at The Wine Press in the West Midlands, became the proud father to Harriet last year, who's now coming up to one. We can see in the photo Eddie holding his other precious baby, who they named Nebuchadnezzar. Eddie also hosted a wine dinner recently with Sarah Fagan from De Bortoli. Chris Sherwood at The Bottle Apostle celebrated his new "baby" last month with the opening of their fifth store in Primrose Hill, North London. This London based independent retailer has gone from strength to strength since the first store opened in 2009, consistently demonstrating that there is no price ceiling for premium Australian wine in a specialist environment. 
Hats off to Vicki Stephens Clarkson MW who finally achieved her MW after many years of hard work, which I'm sure makes the achievement taste all the sweeter. Following her trip to Australia Vicki shipped a small parcel of Bekkers 2012 Syrah for Atlas Fine Wines, just fifteen cases. The financial return for all involved in such micro-activity is minimal, but its exactly this sort of passionate buying and effort in bringing Australia's Unicorn Wines to the export markets that can help bring back a real buzz to the category. I'm also delighted to report that Pascaline Lepeltier MS (Rouge Tomate NYC) gained her Somm letters last year, I'm sure the pet nat and sparkling Chenin were flowing in the streets of New York in celebration. Meanwhile Kevin McLean (seen here fighting Scott Collett in a kangaroo suit at Woodstock Wines) from J. Webb, Calgary recently hosted Ben Glaetzer for a ten vintage vertical tasting dinner of Amon-Ra. The photo shows Kevin's staff at J Webb, Sarah and Raul, modelling some of their Aussie wines. As well as Glaetzer Kevin list includes Giant Steps, Ochota Barrels, Dandelion Vineyards, Brokenwood, Tahbilk, D’Arenberg, Bests, Shaw & Smith and Innocent Bystander. Of his trip in 2013 Kevin says "The Busby trip changed everything. It turns out I had vastly oversimplified Australian wine and this was two weeks of serious (re)education. The trip did more than change my ideas, it ignited a passion for the Aussie wines that we are proud to sell in our shops. The people were outstanding both at the wineries and those I travelled with, and I know these friendships will endure." 
Cheers Kev, the cheque's in the post. 
Class of May 2014
Congratulations to Will Costello MS (Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas) on gaining his Master Somm chops last year. I'm told that regulars at The Astral still talk about the day he brought his Vegas "hi-lo" bowtie-and-sneakers combo to the City of Churches. Brad Royale (Rocky Mountain Resorts, Canada) has shown he can walk-the-walk as well as talk-the-talk by shipping his first consignment of wines from Mac Forbes following the trip, and boy can that man talk. Brad's tasting notes (see Twitter @bradroyale) are pure vinous haiku, and check out his description of the "naked bounty of amazing wines" he discovered in Australia http://www.bin905.com/New---Exciting. The AWRI might consider investing in research on cloning Brad Royale or at least finding a way to bottle his erudite enthusiasm. Bravo Brad we salute you and your crazy ass tasting notes. 
Moving south, Christy Frank from Frankly Wines in New York reports brisk business for her range of premium Aussies. She's had Virginia Wilcox, Louisa Rose, Nick Knappstein and Austin Black (from Mac Forbes) all in her shop, pouring wines and showing the good folk of NYC that there is more to Australia than critter labels and spoofy frankenweins. Christy tells me that "people were SHOCKED by Mac's Chardonnay" (her caps). Christy has also been busy opening a new store with her husband in the town of Copake in the Hudson Valley and promoting Wombat Day.  
Bill Downie's beard continues its world tour, this time appearing with Yang Lu from Shangri-La Hotels in Shanghai (Yang, Bill and Rachel, top right). Siwei Zhu and TasteSpirit have extended an invitation to any winemakers in town to come along and host tastings for his wine students. You can see photos here from recent events, Prof Lynn talking (not unusual) top left, Pete Schell not talking (not unusual) bottom left and Barney Flanders not smiling (very unusual!) bottom right. TasteSpirt are becoming a major player in China with their website (which reports over 5 million unique visits last year), wine academy, events and link ups with the likes of WEST and Jancis Robinson. Staying in Shanghai, James Dai is hosting Thirsty Thursday events for Wine Australia, in addition to his regular calendar of Gourmet 114 tasting events. Finally in career news, Ying Guo has been promoted to Senior Sommelier for the whole Four Seasons group in China and Heather McDougall is now GM and Wine Buyer for Luckee Restaurant in Toronto and still has the best Twitter handle @highacidreds 
Class of October 2014 
Sarah Heller has now gone independent with the launch of Heller Beverage Advisory in Hong Kong. She recently led an Australian trade masterclass featuring Giant Steps, Kilikanoon and Rolf Binder. Topics of discussion included Australia’s place in the Hong Kong market, new styles of Shiraz and Chardonnay and the importance of focusing on brand stories for building a genuine wine culture in Asia. She has also written some fantastic articles inspired by her Australia trip that have appeared in the South China Morning Post, you can read them on her blog here. Sarah says that she is happy to meet with any producers passing through Hong Kong and share her insights to the local market. Ian Dai is now part of the I-WAY wine school in Shanghai, along with fellow Alumni Yang Lu and Frankie Zhao (photo of I-WAY class above left). Ian was recently the project manager for a Wine Australia roadshow across four Chinese cities featuring the wines of Mac Forbes (not that bloke again), Brokenwood, Tyrrells, Port Phillip Estate, d'Arenberg and Taylors. (photo above right). Finally in Nordic news, I've uploaded some of the amazing photos taken by Svein Lindin to the James Busby Travel Facebook page. Svein dragged a suitcase of professional camera equipment everywhere he went on the Busby tour and was unstinting in his commitment to capture the people, places and unique moments of the trip. They really are the best photos we've ever had and well worth checking out. As the winner of that years Points Competition Svein was given the honour of taking home the tour mascot, Mr Johnson, the hand puppet wombat. You can see in the photo above Mr Johnson enjoying himself at a 1920s costume party in Oslo, I can only imagine that Svein is hiding behind the sofa. 
WINERY NEWS - VICTORIA  
Katherine Brown has made the move from Marketing to Winemaking at Brown Brothers to become the first of the fourth generation of the Brown family to enter the winemaking team (photo top left). When I caught up with her in Milawa earlier this year she told me that it was due to a transformational experience she had working vintage in the Jura in 2014. Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate have recently announced the appointment of Glen Hayley (photo top right) as Chief Winemaker. Glen join the company in 2009 and he has been an integral part of the winemaking team for six years working alongside predecessor Sandro Mosele.  
Alister Purbrick at Tahbilk hinted he had some "awesome news" for the Busby newsletter when he first wrote to me back in July, That awesome news turned out to be winning this years coveted James Halliday Wine Companion Winery of the Year 2016 award. Halliday wrote "The liquid history of Tahbilk’s wine portfolio is unique..made in a winery that breathes history". Tahbilk are one of that special club of just fifteen wineries who have participated in every year of the James Busby Travel trips since the first one in 2010. We'd like to thank Alister and his team for their support to us over the years and wish them many congratulations on this fantastic recognition. 
In other news Rory Lane from The Story has recently appointed his first ever UK distributor, ABS Wine Agencies. He will be making a visit to the UK in early September and says he'd love to hear from any Busby Alumni who'd like to catch up for a glass or two. Rory also sent me a photo of a barrel that he is very excited about (above). This is the  2014 Westgate Vineyard Shiraz, which Rory says is perhaps the best wine he has ever made. Rory was the only Busby producer to send me a photo of a single barrel that they are excited about, but I hope he has started a trend. Rory tells me that the wine is about to be bottled and he can't wait to "get it into people's faces". Alumni of the UK, you have been warned. 
Another member of the six year club are Michael and Wendy Dhillon at Bindi. I got a sneak preview of their new block of Pinot Noir on the "other side" of the winery when I visited earlier this year, planted on a west facing slope of volcanic soil with quartz over clay. This is part of a program to establish four new vineyard blocks totalling two hectares. Planting density in the new block is 11,3000 vines per hectare (1.1 x 0.8) with one small section at 22,600 (1.1 x 0.4). Michael says that they are expecting some "very special wines to be grown", although he adds that the project is still ten years away from seeing an outcome. Last year also saw the launch of the new labels and names for the Bindi wines, honouring the mentors and family members who have been instrumental in their establishment and growth, including a new cuvee named Kaye, after Michael's mother, which has been released as a multi-vintage offering of 2009, 2010 and 2011.  
Read the full story in Bindi's detailed and thoughtful
newsletters here
 
WINERY NEWS - SOUTH AUSTRALIA  
Peter Fraser at Yangarra was named Winemaker of the Year 2016 by the Halliday Wine Companion. You can see a photo above of Pete accepting the award along with Yangarra viticulturist Michael Lane and winemaker Shelley Torresan. Don't they scrub up well! d'Arenberg are proud to announce that Chester Osborn's Golden Retrievers Coco and Digby have made this years Wine Dogs Calendar. In June d'Arenberg released their Icon wines from the notoriously challenging 2011 vintage. 2011 was one of the coolest and wettest in decades, and success often depended on the ability to select by hand picking. McLaren Vale was said to have dodged the bullet of the worst of the vintage thanks to its position in the rain shadow of the Adelaide Hills. d'Arenberg are confident about the quality of their 2011 Icons reporting that the wines show a great balance of power and finesse with some of the best acidity seen for years. You can read more here. Keep an eye out in future newsletters for news of d'Arenberg's ambitious new cellar door construction, known as Chester's Rubik's Cube.   
Henschke have recently accounted the release of the 2010 Hill of Grace, Stephen Henschke describes the vintage as "blessed by nature and a comparison to the prized years 2002 and 2005". Both Henschke and d'Arenberg took part in Australia's First Families of Wine "Unlocked" Roadshow across North America in May this year. The photo above shows the group on the rooftop bar of the Press Club Lounge in New York. You can read about the recent tour on the AFFW website, as well see as a very handy vintage report from all twelve wineries. 
In an effort to redress the balance of sartorial elegance on display in the photos above, we have news from the boys at Teusner who featured in a recent episode of Australia's Channel 9 TV show Plonk. I think this photo of Mick and Kym was taken by Teusner's Marketing Manager Howard Duncan on his iPhone of his telly at home. Who said marketing needs to be high tech? You can see extracts of the program on their YouTube channel, and I thoroughly recommend it. Howard also tells me that Jancis flagged Teusner wines as one her favourite new wave Australian producers in her July 4th article in The Financial Times. I've heard that the great lady loves a bloke in a blue singlet. 
Finally in shed news, Dudley Brown of Inkwell wines sent me photos of the new shed he's had built next to his winery on the aptly named California Road in McLaren Vale. Dudley tells me that the shed will double up as dry goods storage and ping pong stadium, and has offered us its use, along with the basket ball court on his concrete crush pad, for a James Busby Travel competitive sports day. Bring it on! Dudley's business partner and wife Dr Irina Santiago-Brown has had her third PhD paper on sustainable viticulture published in the Journal of Sustainability. Irina's groundbreaking research was the driving force behind the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SAW)  program, which was developed in McLaren Vale but is now available for all wine regions across Australia to take up. You can read more  on SAW here.  
VINTAGE NEWS
For many regions 2015 was the punk rock vintage, short, fast and loud! A dry summer and spring in many of the Eastern seaboard regions led to grapes coming in thick and fast in February and March, with early ripening varieties tumbling into later ones and reds at the same time as whites, leading to an unprecedented pressure on tank space and for many a record early finish before Easter. For those who managed the logistics, and called their picking times right, there was much quality to be had. Halliday reports "high optimism about the quality" (sic) and that the "net result of a cool January, very warm February and cool March" was the "retention of excellent natural acidity". This phrase is often a euphemism for cool, wet and disappointing, but with the exceptions of the Hunter Valley, most producers across Australia are quietly happy with the quality and quantity of wines now in tank and barrel from the 2015 vintage. 
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 
In the Barossa a dry spring and January meant a slow start to the season, but a sudden burst of heat in February - the highest mean max since 2007 - saw baumés racing and a rush to get fruit into the winery and considerable pressure on tank space. A drop in temperatures in March led to a slow and evening period of ripening, which for those who were able to hold their nerve in February and not pick, provided fruit where the phenolic ripeness had a chance to catch up with the sugar ripeness. Those regions that generally come in later, such as Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills, managed to avoid the worst of the February baumé rush and report excellent results. Jim Barry wines in the Clare Valley report that February saw them ferment Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet all in the same month, a first. 
VICTORIA 
Tahbilk in Nagambie Lakes reported their earliest finish ever, April 1st. Brown Brothers called the vintage "rapid fire" with grapes for sparkling, white and red all coming in at once. I particularly like the description from Campbells in Rutherglen, who called it a "dinosaur" of a vintage, "starting off small at one end, becoming big and fat in the middle, before tailing off nicely at the other end". 
Pinot Noir was deemed to be one of the successes of the vintage in Victoria, with all regions in the "Dress Circle" around Melbourne reporting a very favourable vintage for Pinot, with both quality and yield up from some very small and challenging recent vintages.

In other regions the picture was more patchy. The Hunter Valley reported some very challenging conditions, with hail and rain in December, rain in mid January alternating with very hot spells resulting in a high degree of selection both in the vineyard and winery required to achieve quality. Tyrrells report that 40% of their Pinot and Shiraz was left on the ground by pickers, but what they finally got was very good, albeit in very small quantities. 
Margaret River has enjoyed a run of exceptional vintages in recent years, but 2015 brought some challenges; unsettled bud formation in the previous year combined with poor flowering and fruit set has meant very low yields. 

The overall crush for 2015 was 1.67m tonnes, slightly less than the seven year average. South Australia leads the table for volume, with almost 50% of the national crush, followed by New South Wales (the Riverina), Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and ACT. The 2015 crush was almost exactly equal for red and white, with red at 836,523 tonnes and white 834,041 tonnes. The top three reds were Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot while whites were Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
In his annual report, Paul Evans, Chief Executive for The Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA) says: "We see a 5% increase in average wine grape prices over the past year, albeit off a low base. We must also remember that this is an industry average and many producers in the warm inland regions in particular continue to experience enormous challenges. Our analysis shows that 92% of production in warm inland areas is unprofitable. The macro-economic climate has shifted in our favour in regards to more favourable exchange rates, the signing of important Free Trade Agreements in the Asian marketplace and improved consumer sentiment in our traditional markets”
Thanks to those producers mentioned for sending me their vintage reports as well as vintage information provided on the websites of Halliday Wine CompanionAustralia's First Families of Wine and The Winemakers Federation of Australia. 


 
REUNION NEWS
On May 4th we held the second Hong Kong James Busby Travel Alumni Reunion. Yvonne Cheung, who'll be on the trip this October, kindly hosted us at The Continental. It was a warm evening (are there any other in HK?) and we sat on the terrace and enjoyed an evening of good food and great Australian wine, all tasted blind. 
On May 6th we held the first ever Alumni Reunion in Shanghai. Christian Zhang from Yacht Club on the Bund arranged a river cruise after which we went to a nearby restaurant for a night of local food and great Aussie wine, including a rare bottle of 1880 Seppeltsfield fortified courtesy of Marcus Ford.  
The hat trick of reunions was completed in London on May 19th. Charlie Young kindly hosted at Vinoteca Soho, which has become our traditional venue for these events, and we enjoyed our fourth London Reunion, with guest appearances from Steve "Flammo" Flamsteed and Phil Sexton from Giant Steps. 
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE CLASS OF 2015 
This October will see the 7th Annual James Busby Travel trip and our 100th traveller. Starting off in Melbourne we're covering twelve regions in two weeks with the following wine trade professionals. (above from top left to bottom right): Brett Woonton, Owner and Director, Vinoteca wine bars, London; Christina Holzer, Buyer, The Sampler, London; Nick Hetzel MS, Head Sommelier, Sage Restaurant, Aria Resort, Las Vegas; Jesse Rodriguez, Sommelier, Montage Resort, Laguna Beach, California; Jesse Willis, Owner and GM, Vine Arts, Calgary, Canada; Julian Boulard, Owner, Zoulian Wines, Educator, Journalist, Nanning, China; James Teng, Head Sommelier, Hakkasan, Shanghai; Ryo Kasahara, Enoteca Wine Co Ltd, Shanghai; Yvonne Cheung, Director of Wine, Swire Hotel Group, Hong Kong; Alvin Gho, Wine Director, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore; Maya Samuelsson, Educator and Partner, Vinkallan Academy, Sweden; Thomas Ilkjaer, Wine Writer, Denmark.  
And finally....
In my own news, on September 12th I ran the Marathon du Médoc  in support of The Benevolent, the UK wine trade's charity. With legs aching, feet throbbing but with a 26.2 mile wide smile I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 33 minutes. Not a record time, but I had stopped to enjoy many of the wine, steak and oyster stops along the way that make this marathon so unique. My JustGiving page will be up until the end of October, so if you'd like to support this very worth charity please go to the following link JustGiving
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