Pictured: Egon Müller, Paul Symington, Frédéric Drouhin, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Philippine de Rothschild, Jean Pierre de Beaumarchais, Alessia Antinori, Etienne Hugel, Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta, François Perrin, Miguel Torres, Emilio Alvarez, Robert Drouhin, Charlotte Hugel, Hubert de Billy, Mireia Torres, Piero Antinori.


LONDON - It was rather fun telling people that I was off to a dinner given by the Primum Familiae Vini – school Latin seemed a long time ago! The PFV, or First Families of Wine, somehow rolls off the tongue more smoothly, in fact as easily as their wines slip down. One would expect nothing less from the eleven families that belong to this exclusive 'club', where the criteria for membership are quality and family ownership, a precious commodity in the era of large corporate enterprises. I have always been convinced that families have the potential to make wines with the most personality, reflections of themselves and their philosophies.

The roll-call of members is breathtaking: Pol Roger Champagne, Château Mouton Rothschild, Hugel et Fils from Alsace, Maison Joseph Drouhin from Burgundy, Perrin et Fils (who also blog) from the Rhône Valley, Egon Müller from the Saar, Antinori from Tuscany, Tenuta San Guido with their Sassicaia, Miguel Torres  and Vega Sicilia from Spain and the Symington Port estates in the Douro. You have the ingredients here for the Dinner of All Time, which is what we had at Galvin at Windows Restaurant on the top of the Hilton in Park Lane, London, looking down through the snowflakes falling over Hyde Park.

At least, this is what the lucky guests consumed à go-go. I had to be more circumspect as I was auctioning, for charity, one of the amazing PFV Collection Cases containing a bottle of the flagship wine produced by each member, together with something genuinely priceless, a PFV Passport which enables the buyer (with a friend or two) to visit and be entertained, wined and dined by each of these illustrious families. Mission accomplished, I returned to my table and proceeded to drink my way through all eleven gems. Don't ask me which one I preferred (on the night) – I wish to remain friends with everyone in this very 'functional' family.