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Dear Helenka, I would like to thank you for the wonderful trip to Burgundy. All was - just like five years ago when I was with you in Burgundy for the very first time – well prepared and programmed. The lunch in Saint Romain was superb. And actually all the tastings were magnificent, meetings with wine and its creators in this picture-postcard countryside with all its famous wine villages. The presentation of local Nuits Saint Georges winemakers on Sunday - that was something special, and what is more, full of interesting and eye-catching observations of the French and their self-confident presentation of their work. Even the weather was fine to enjoy lunch outside in the square, pity I did not join Andrea’s party for the famous coq au vin – I suppose I will have to return for that once more. Thank you very much a send my greetings to all those "excursion participants", it was a very nice ensemble of lovely people all keen on wine - and this must also be your good work…
Iva Janžurová, actress
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Everyone who was on this excursion knows that it was super and those not present can only be sorry! It was again a magnificent experience thanks to the wonderful Helena Baker, whom I would like to thank once again!
Andrea Krausová, chairwoman of the supervisory board, Proxy Finance a.s. (Sonberk Winery)
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I have thoroughly enjoyed the three trips I have made with Helena and John Baker. The trips were superbly organized and tremendous fun. We, the participants, had nothing to do but enjoy ourselves and learn about wine in the company of other wine enthusiasts. Helena`s fluency in English, French and Czech helped make everything run smoothly, and her knowledge of wine steered us to high-quality vineyards with reasonably priced wines. I particularly enjoyed the tours of wineries and the opportunity to buy directly from producers. I highly recommend her excursions and look forward to going on more in the future.
Patricia Goodson-Karhanová, pianist
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I have been on several trips with Helena and John Baker. Thanks to Helena and her knowledge I have begun to get under the skin of French wines, with their taste and wide spectrum, which is for me as a taster excellent schooling and also good experience. Thanks to this I now look on French wine in a completely different light than before, when I would only came across it in tasting committees at wine competitions or at other shows and wine fairs. To absorb the atmosphere of burgeoning and mountainous Languedoc, with its heavier and more rugged wines, or after picking truffles to sample a luscious but nonetheless grand Provençal rosé, or to go to the heart of the legendary Burgundy region with its renowned Grands Crus vineyards and to taste several dozen top wines in a local exhibition … In this way I have graduated to acquiring an understanding of the wines of France with specific thanks to Mrs Baker. Everything always worked out as it was supposed to do, Helena used her not inconsiderable linguistic and organoleptic abilities in order that we could get the most from any given locality or specific winery.
Nevertheless I have one reservation. It is precisely thanks to the gastro-oenological orientation of our trips that I have completely changed my taste requirements. And by this token I can no longer enjoy what I used to enjoy previously. And for this reason my requirements for the enjoyment of food are now more costly than ever before … However, in order to discover French cuisine which marries so well with French wines, it is well worth it. So I take back the reservation and I am already waiting for the next quest into the world of fine wine and gastronomy in the company of Mrs Helena Baker.
Zbyněk Kopeček, winemaker, licensed taster approved by the EU norms, member of the Sommeliers' Association, wine-writer and broadcaster, www.vinarskydum.com
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Dear Helena and John,
Thank you both so very much indeed for the wonderful tasting trip to Alsace and Burgundy - three unforgettable days of brilliant wines, good food, great company, fabulous countryside, fantastic weather. I can still taste the wine!
You did a marvellous job in organising the trip and making sure everything worked out. You carried it all off with charm and humour and I am grateful to you for the care you took of me as the only non-Czech speaker in the group.
Gerald Cary-Elwes, Executive Director, The Prague Society
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We thank you very, very much for a fanstastic excursion - once again it was superb! We can barely wait for more symposia with “oeno-gastronomical“ themes... Šottnerovi
As. MUDr. Oldřich Šottner, deputy to the principal for science and research
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Dear Helena and John,
We just want to thank you both so much for organizing and “leading“ our spring seminar in Burgundy and Alsace which we both enjoyed enormously! Personally, I felt as though I’d been away for weeks and can’t believe how much we packed into such a short time! We liked some of our fellow-travellers very much, too, and I’m sure we’ll see more of Gerald.
With very best wishes,
Victoria and Daniel Špička, architect
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Good day, Mrs Helenka,
...you were very kind sending us the email immediately. Can you please thank them in Beaune?
I would really not manage it properly in French. In any case we all thank you for the beautiful experience and we look forward to seeing you again. Should you be organising another seminar in the future, please do not forget to tell us. Have a good time and once again we send our best regards to you and your husband.
All 3 Kellners
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If somebody asks me if I know Helena Baker and John, of course, the same answer always occurs to me: “Where have you been all this time?”
I first met Helena Baker in 1985, when she came here from London with John to see her family. She also happened to visit Moravia where she came upon my wine cellar, by chance with a mutual friend, whom I knew from military service. Wine had begun to interest Helena so much so that she began to dedicate herself to it upon her return to London.
She once also brought me a full-nosed white wine of the sort we are used to tasting nowadays, made by temperature-controlled fermentation. I could not understand how this wine was made, in what way it was different from what we were used to. And, needless to say, even in those days I didn’t make totally awful wine. But as it happened, the Communists finally gave up and the rest is history, including hard work and evolution, a little bit of luck, even falling on one’s face, in order to pick oneself up again, gaining experience and, in my case, to be true to my rather special genes. When I want to know something about some particular world wine region, how its wines are made, their typical characteristics, correct appellations and whether what I smell and taste in them is right or wrong, I ask Helena, because she has tasted more wines of the world than anyone from the Czech Republic, and this is with all respect to those who steal her articles. When, on the other hand, Helena wants to know how and why something has happened to a wine, what to do about it or simply ask for a helping hand, she turns to me. This, however, might soon be about to change as the Bakers have bought a vineyard with a cellar here in Moravia and begun to work in them. Should her winemaking be on the par with her knowledge of the culinary arts and the science of wine, we should be on the lookout. Fortunately for me, Helena needs three hours to come from her home to her cellar while my route takes only three minutes. If that was not enough, I might not reveal all the secrets of the winemaking process to her. Competition is all very fine, but does it have to be better?
All I have said above is sufficiently important if I want to know with whom I should visit European wine regions, should I wish to go on a wine trip with a group. As an organiser of wine tours, Helena knows the local winemakers, the typicality of the regional wines, gastronomy etc. She likes nothing so much as to share her knowledge and experiences, so that by the end of the trip the participants will feel like passing an exam in what they have discovered and learned. If you want the certainty of knowing that your guide is not going to be fazed by any awkward question, then go with Helena Baker. Without any doubt she knows her stuff and this is why she is regularly invited as a taster to a range of international wine competitions all over the world. I will also reveal something that not many people know about Helena - that for her expertise in vinous and culinary arts she won a second prize on television in London, which was a fitted kitchen with all mod cons and again in 1992 for purchasing a crate of champagne and a coat for John, she won a Lotus sports car – only Formula 1 racing car could have been better!
All the best Helena and don’t make John work too hard in the vineyard.
Radek Baloun, winemaker