…And what a country it is, with its dramatic landscape, extreme adventure and if it was a little icy cold in the air, the people couldn’t be more warm and friendly.
With a busy schedule and juggling lots of exciting projects, it always amazes me how much you can pack in to a short space of time when you plan efficiently and work with super organised people!
A couple of weeks ago, JetVine was asked by the team at Icelandair to facilitate their blind tasting, and support the selection of their new premium wine list on board.
Now this opportunity hit high on the exciteometer for many reasons. Projects like this are at the core of the JetVine ethos and one of the main reasons I started the company. I began my wine journey with an airline and have a rather niche ability to assess all wines I taste for their suitability in the air. Whilst the taste profile and analysis of a wine for how it will perform at altitude is important, it’s certainly not the only factor to consider when identifying the wines that will best feature on a list high above the clouds…but that’s a whole other blog!
So, to have a premium carrier, and one so established as Icelandair, ask me to lead this activity was a real honour. Independent blind tasting is important to airlines to ensure fair selection and no bias towards any one supplier(s) or producer(s).
Not only did it mean tasting the impressive line up of wines - always an enjoyable task - but it also meant I got to spend a jam-packed 24 hours in Iceland and take in some epic new experiences.
On arrival at Reykjavik, we were whisked straight off to a secure, off site location where the wines had been set up and bottles ‘blinded’. Tasting was grouped into white, rosé and red categories, and in total we tasted 64 wines. There were three of us on the tasting panel - all independent.
Scoring was completed after around 5 hours and then analysis handed over to the team at the airline.
Those of you familiar with wine judging and taste scoring will know how hungry it can make you. Reykjavik being just a short drive away - a group of us headed there. My first impression of this city was that it’s super cool but with a really friendly, open and welcoming vibe.
Seeing the sights, taking in different venues and supping with locals over the course of a relaxed evening in Reykjavik, made it feel like I’d been in the country for a week already, not merely half a day.
It wasn’t an early finish, but hey, in a vibrant city with fun people and a flight home the next day, one had to maximise the time! It was really interesting taking in the different wine lists from the bars and restaurants we visited. Not cheap, but that was no surprise.
The flight home was early afternoon the following day: that left an entire morning free in this beautiful country, and a bucket-list tick off opportunity.
I’d seen it in videos and pictures but nothing could have prepared me for the experience of Iceland’s Retreat at The Blue Lagoon.
With natural lava rock interiors, spacious spa luxuries, idyllic tranquility and hot water springs, I think this is the most invigorated I’ve felt, literally in years, perhaps ever!
There was just enough time for a relaxing dip, a glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut whilst immersed in the hot springs of The Retreat and then a short drive to Keflavik airport for the flight back home to Blighty.
There’s something very different and special about this magical island on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.
This project with the wonderful people of Icelandair is a great example of what personifies for me the world of travel and wine. It underlines the reason why these two closely linked industries provide such fulfilment whilst managing to maintain the enjoyment factor. Work hard: play hard is a cliché for sure but one I hear a great deal amongst my own colleagues and clients, and one I’m happy to live by.
Thank you to the entire team at Icelandair for putting your faith in JetVine and for providing the platform for an absolutely incredible project.