Monday, 25 January 2010

Eiswein anyone?

Written in the white-out!

NASA Terra satellite pictures show the UK blanketed in snow from head to toe, the heaviest snowfall in fifty years apparently. All of the media suggest we stay inside, and here in the provinces the silence is palpable from the lack of traffic. The Scandinavians call it “hyggelig” which translates to being cosy, snug, friendly and home. Most of us, especially children and dogs, love the adventure of gambolling in the snow, discovering wild animal tracks, and the myriad games to play with the unaccustomed white ingredient.

If, like HA, you live in a village blessed with a plethora of pubs, wine bars and restaurants, the atmosphere is virtually après- ski. Brightly adorned jolly snow revellers can be seen trudging to the local watering holes to regale their cohorts with tales of their snowboard and tobogganing prowess on the local golf course. Suddenly we are transported back to times when just being local was the norm, with it being a rarity and a brave soul who travelled outside the village environs. Community spirit seems to have been awakened in these adverse weather conditions and bonhomie is blooming. Long may it last after the snow is but a memory.

While we frolic, in Germany and Austria as the first light of day dawns, intrepid pickers snip frozen grapes from the vine for the small, expensive and renowned harvest which makes Eiswein. The grapes are crushed whilst still frozen to produce this very sweet, highly acidic and much prized wine. This same process is carried out in Canada and other seasonally chilled climes where the result is termed Icewine. We think this would be an unusual and rather appropriate gift to take to a party this month. Waitrose lists Weingut Heribert Boch, Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Eiswein 2004 – a mouthful in more ways than one. Its luscious sweetness and lipsmacking acidity are great for lemon roulade or fruit pavlovas. The price is eyewatering too, at £29.99 for a half bottle.

It will be interesting to see if our English vineyards are able to take advantage of the freeze, minimise wastage and tap into the Icewine practice. Keep your eyes peeled for the English version later this year. ....What could it be called....”Frozen wastes” or perhaps “Surrey Cold”!

Both Heathers agree that a good big red helps keep the cold at bay, and in fact it seems the natural beverage to imbibe at this time of year. HA was given a wonderful selection of South African reds as a Christmas gift – Galpin Peak 2008, a pinot noir from Walker Bay near Hermanus, produced by the Bouchard Finlayson Winery on this sunny Western Cape is an accomplished reflection of the fertile terroir. Something different is Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, grown, made and bottled on the Springfield Estate “by 9th generation Huguenots”. This wine claims to be harvested and developed by the ancestral (ie by hand) method, and developed using a gravity flow system with no pumps or crushers involved. This traditional method of production, using only the natural yeasts, and which is unfiltered and unfined, results in softer tannins and complex characteristics. Shipped by Bibendum and selling for £10.73 a bottle, this is definitely worthy of your palate.

Alternative, economic, invigorating, unusual (any more vowels?): this describes some of the wines we have tasted recently and from which we have selected some delicious examples to offer you. These non-supermarket wines represent real value and interest to the most discerning connoisseur. A six bottle around the world case for just £49.99. A real January re-juvenator.
We are delighted to get your feedback on the above and almost any vinous subject. Next we will be looking at restaurants and wine bars and would be delighted to receive your views on local hotspots, heroes and villains. We will be giving you our unbiased, un-pc views in the next edition of our Surrey Advertiser column. Trinny and Susannah have got nothing on us!!!

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