Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Visit to Decanter

Decanter (@Decanter, http://www.decanter.com/), the self-styled “World’s Best Wine Magazine,” recently held a Master Class on the Medoc and Graves at its corporate headquarters in London. I attended the class and found the Decanter facility to be interesting in its own right.

Decanter is located in the Blue Fin Building at 110 Southwark Street in the heart of the Southwark section of London, hard up against the Tate Modern (which, by the way, is featuring a magnificent Gauguin exhibition which runs through mid-January 2011). Visitors and tenant employees enter the building lobby through revolving glass doors but employees continue to the elevators through a card-activated turnstile system while visitors are diverted to a security desk to be credentialed for entry. Credentialed visitors are provided with a photo-bearing, 1-day pass which allows entrance into the commercial nerve centers of the building.

Decanter’s offices are on the 10th floor and, after exiting the elevator, the visitor walks across an air bridge to access the reception area. The vista and view are stunning. You are walking from the building’s central core to offices which are glass-walled both on the outside as well as the side facing the core. This allows a view of the activity within the office as well as through the office space to the London skyline beyond.

The visitor is buzzed into the Decanter reception where he/she is welcomed by two smiling receptionists.

The Blue Fin Building runs straight up and down to its maximum capacity for the first 10 floors.  Beginning with Floor 11, however, the building retreats inward to begin a new, less-expansive journey to the sky.  This retreat has resulted in patio-like, open-air spaces on the 10th floor, spaces which have been taken advantage of to provide a recreation area on one side of Decanter and a mini-vineyard on the other.

Passing from the reception area to the office spaces beyond, the first room on the left is a glass-walled conference room/classroom where the Master Class was held. Continuing along the central passageway, on the right-hand side, just before exiting to one of the open-air areas, is the Decanter tasting room. The room has a waist-high counter running along its walls and hundreds of wine bottles resident thereon.

A giant spittoon has pride of place in the center of the room. The tasting room is managed by Mark O’Halleron, the Tastings Executive.

Earlier in the year I had participated in the online launch of the 2002 Dom Perignon, an event which was held in, and broadcasted from, this same tasting room. I was tickled pink to be walking around in that same room a few months later.

Out through the rear door, and to the right, there is a gravel-laden, oblong garden which is planted to vine, some of which are fruit-laden. The Decanter Editor, Guy Woodward, who took us on a tour of this area, indicated that each vine had been planted by a Decanter Person of the Year and a metal tag adjacent to each vine showed exactly who had planted the vine.

I have heard about urban vineyards but this one takes the cake.

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