Chapter 22 – Coming Clean and Coming Down

I make for Jen’s office. I may as well get all my awkward meetings over in one go. She’s on the phone when I walk in. ‘Hold on,’ she says to her caller. ‘Do you have five minutes?’ I ask. She gestures for me to sit down before turning her attention back to the phone.Continue reading “Chapter 22 – Coming Clean and Coming Down”

Chapter 18 – The Consumer Wine Fair

A flock of visitors spills inside the room as soon as the gates open. They’ve paid twenty pounds each for their ticket and most of them intend to drink at least forty pounds’ worth of booze during the next few hours. The more practised aim for the Champagne stands before they get too crowded orContinue reading “Chapter 18 – The Consumer Wine Fair”

Chapter 17 – Drunkenness and Temptation

The taxi stinks of unwashed armpits, takeaways and rose air freshener. I’d open the window but I don’t want to be rude. Forth One is blaring out. I can’t recall being asked if I minded the radio being on so loud. When we stop in front of the Parliament House hotel, I throw the fareContinue reading “Chapter 17 – Drunkenness and Temptation”

Chapter 16 – A Poisoned Chalice

We return to the boardroom for lunch. Somebody has pulled up the blinds, and the cold unflattering winter light falls flat on every surface, revealing dust and cobwebs in the corners. The three cardboard crates, in which the plastic trays containing our lunch have been delivered, sit half-torn apart, in the middle of the room,Continue reading “Chapter 16 – A Poisoned Chalice”

Chapter 15 – Testoterone, Tears and Tasting

The third presentation of the day is meant to be a short update by Ed of the “transatlantic situation” as he describes it. ‘We all know how important the Canadian and American markets are for French wines and how crucial it is that Villa should be able to start selling over there again,’ he says.Continue reading “Chapter 15 – Testoterone, Tears and Tasting”

Chapter 14 – The Circus aka the Export Meeting

Serge arrives in Bordeaux just before midnight. After a flurry of phone calls, he joins Philippe and me in the restaurant of the Mercure hotel where we’re staying. While he wolfs down the club sandwich the kitchen agreed to prepare for him despite the late hour, I retrace for him my afternoon conversation with MargueriteContinue reading “Chapter 14 – The Circus aka the Export Meeting”