The Producers

PUBLISHED: 11:07 22 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:07 22 September 2014

Neil Bull

Neil Bull


This month Essex Life takes a look at the East Anglian Wine School in Stebbing

FORMER City trader, Neil Bull, turned to drink when he left the FTSE behind.

In 2009, when he was made redundant, he used the opportunity to immerse himself in wine – studying it rather than drinking it!

‘I chose to learn with the Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) as they are the biggest providers of wine education in the world and all of their courses are Government accredited,’ Neil explains.

His initial interest started with a night school progressing from Level I to Level III. ‘Once I had more time on my hands it was the ideal opportunity to go for the Diploma as it’s an 18-month course. I had the time to concentrate on it and it was something I really wanted to do. The WSET goes in to so much detail I found it quite fascinating.’

Using the methods learned from WSET, Neil teaches a systematic approach to wine tasting. ‘It’s basically a very logical way of approaching a wine tasting, ‘ Neil explains. To begin with you look at the wine in the glass and categorise each aspect comparing its colour from the body, through the core to the very rim of the wine. Next you assess the aroma of the wine and the WSET use set vocabulary so that from your tasting notes, anyone, anywhere in the world who uses the same system will be able to read and assess the wine in exactly the same way.

‘Then we look at the taste of the wine, noting the amount of tannin, its acidity levels and the alcohol content. Finally it’s the conclusion you draw from all of those aspects which tells you about the quality of the wine.’

You can go along as an individual to Neil’s organised tastings or arrange a group of your own and he will even come to you (minimum 10 people). Neil’s next tastings include a very popular Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting, Cheese and Wine evenings and An Introduction to Wine. He also runs a wine club for those who have joined him on a previous wine tasting.

‘I thought about what don’t I like about wine clubs and I tried not to include any of those aspects in ours.’ The wine club starts from just £20 per month and all the money paid in can be spent on wine as there is no membership fee. You can also choose which wines to purchase and when.

‘If members want to save up their funds until the Christmas Champagnes and ports come out and purchase,

then that’s fine.’

Members are also invited to three, free wine tastings each year. ‘I only want members to buy the wines they like and not feel obliged to buy any which they don’t enjoy.’

The wine club and tastings attract a mixed audience, from young couples looking to expand their wine knowledge, to retired people with time and money

to enjoy a wider variety of wines.

‘We tried one this week from Austria and those who attended were really surprised how good it was. At the moment there’s a very nice pinot blanc from Alsace, or why not try out Skillagolee which is a rose from Australia? If you fancy a smoky red, you could

give Carménère a try. It’s a red wine from Chile.’

Get the taste

East Anglian Wine School

Lucas Farm

Whitehouse Road



01371 267260

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