Over the last year, many of us have come to embrace living in a more virtual world. Sometimes that’s opened doors or connection that would have otherwise been shut, whilst other times it’s the source of a wealth of frustration in awkward family quizzes or difficult work meetings at the kitchen table. When it comes to Jackson & Seddon and their idea for creating a virtual wine bar, no one can really explain it better than Rob Seddon himself:
“Lockdown ’21 has been, mentally, a much bigger struggle than 2020. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s not novel anymore. We are all more than a little bit fed-up with job insecurity, with financial insecurity, with home-schooling, with the lack of interaction with family and friends.”
Yes to all of that – it really has been the most challenging of times and we’ve had to get creative in order to find the fun and laughs in a difficult situation. And that is where the virtual bar comes in.
If you don’t already know Jackson & Seddon they are importers of the most beautiful, artisan, Italian wines. Rob is the most enthusiastic ambassador for the Italian wine growers he works with. Every single bottle has a story behind it and he’s visited every vineyard, met (and knows well) every wine grower, knows the story of why and how they grow their wines, their quirks and their realms of genius. From the wine grower who still crushes grapes with his feet, to the vineyard that has a bird who sings in front of the winery on the nights the wine is bottled. With every glass you pour it’s not just the wine, but the story of how the wine was lovingly produced at every step. You are pouring the colour of stories, of loving care, of generationally passed down techniques, of real relationships and connection and beauty and craft of Italian winemakers. No wonder it tastes so good!
The virtual bar goes one step further as it delivers the beautiful wines to your door and connects you with Rob and often other wine growers, to hear more about these very stories and to really bring the wines to life in the comfort of your home. I had an inkling of how the night would be, when chatting to Rob he said, “We don’t mess around with sample bottles, we just send through gorgeous bottles direct to your door” and also “the last event we didn’t log off until midnight!” It’s going to be a fun one!
As described, three bottles of wine arrived the day before with some friendly instructions for storing and opening and you realise this is really like preparing for a night with friends.
To honour the night in the best way we could, we chose to share it with a friend (in the garden as lockdown rules require, with candles and a fire). This session was hosted by Rob, but he also invited Black Book wines, a winery from Battersea sourcing from vineyards close to London who had one of their wines (a Pinot Noir) included in the selection.
Rob talked through the first wine (a Greco) with tales of the growers, how they know each other, the way they select their grapes and how Italy was “hot as balls” the year the wine was bottled. Rob was clear that we were welcome to stay unmuted as he wanted the experience to be interactive, just as if we were meeting in a real bar and chatting all things wine and life. The friendly attendees were happy to join in and make the most of the wine bar atmosphere with questions and experiences of their own. The Greco was a super fresh and drinkable white. I think Rob said something about the taste of sucking on a rock (salinity???), but for me it was just great clean white with a gentle palette and without the acidity you can often find with whites.
Next up was a share from Black Book wines who were a novel departure from Italy with their London-made Pinot Noir. Once again these guys were here by connection to Rob as they had met long before, as kindred spirits and become firm friends to Rob. It was fascinating to hear about UK wines and the types of wines that do well growing on our shores. I have to say, the Pinot Noir was really wonderful – much lighter and fresher than reds often are and super drinkable.
Our final wine…and yes things are a little more blurry by this point…was an Offida Rosso. Much fuller bodied than the Black Book wine, this felt hearty but once again gentle and made me want to pull a blanket around me and sit back and enjoy the fire. By this point the chat was well oiled and fun, and all attendees shared the rosy-cheeked glow of good wine, passion, laughter and fun.
Now it was time for our battery to bid farewell to the evening as we had to slip away a little before last orders were called (a mere 10 minutes it turned out), but we left the bar in flow. Reflecting on the evening well-spent we wondered what could be more important than sharing of passion with enthusiasts and lovers of life – these are truly the ingredients of a great wine bar or any kind of gathering and should be sought and captured in our experiences in lockdown and beyond.
Thank you Rob and team for sharing your beautiful wines, enthusiasm, passion and genuine connection with us. You have created something really special with your wine growing community, wines and friends – and we feel privileged to share in your experience.
Check out Jackson & Seddon here