Friday, 28 May 2010

Parliamentary pin-ups: a coalition cocktail

Has it occurred to you that we now have a veritable “boy band” of a government in Cameron, Clegg and perhaps soon to be one of the Milliband family as leader of the opposition? Watching this contest (“The Fraternicide?”, or “Cain and Abel?”), will be the next big spectator sport with brothers David and Ed battling it out for the thrill and patronage of the voting public. The erstwhile hugely popular X Factor will now likely be rendered passé and no longer relevant with such an intriguing gladiatorial contest on the world stage.

Coalition cocktails
Try Belt-tightening Bellini, using “champagne” Cameron –economise with sparkling wine instead of the real thing and mix with a peachy future.

Young’s Old Nick Barley Wine – a very English taste, add a dash of vodka to make it international, befitting Nick Clegg’s aspirations and roots.

Our ministerial leaders are all in their early forties, and…..probably the best looking bunch of politicos ever. What a coup and a proving ground for this media-led, celebrity obsessed country. But actually, who’s complaining? England has always been innovative and a world leader in pop culture and we do have in this line up a remarkably potent and persuasive force. Our prediction is that all things new wave English will become the fashionable trend in lifestyle impacting on our everyday living.

With events conspiring to keep us in England what with the rubber band ash cloud and the threat of strikes affecting foreign travel, we will all be gardening, growing our own and visiting our lovely coast, countryside and magnificent monuments. We think this strong community feeling will embrace support of local and personal enterprises such as one we visited last week, Taurus Wines near Bramley.

Rupert Pritchett outdid himself with this, his 9th Summer Wine Festival, held inside the delightful wood-beamed Gate Street Barn at Wintershall . It was a jolly band of tasters who crowded into sample the wide range of wines, beers, spirits and ciders on display and quite the party atmosphere developed with very little use being made of the spittoons.

Our English favourite was Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs Brut 2001, just announced as having gained a Gold Medal in this year’s International Wine Challenge, “the Oscars of the wine world”. This West Sussex ringer for a classy Blanc de Blancs Champagne is £24.99 – Champagne prices too. Staying with the sparklers but on a mission to try a recommendation of some youthful tipplers we sampled Alasia Brachetto d’Acqui 2009 - £7.99 . This is a sweetish sparkling red with the perfume of roses, violets and a distinct weightiness of raisin in the taste. It has a young and exuberant taste and contrary to expectations we both liked it and thought that as an aperitif or even lightweight pudding wine it would be fun and “different”. We have to say that Rupert himself is less than enthusiastic and describes it as “red lemonade”: he is obviously feeling old!

The wine that we were really enthusiastic about was Te Muna Pinot Noir 2008 - £19.99, smooth, delicate and subtly perfumed from Craggy Range in New Zealand. This company claims to have the best vineyards in kiwi-land and wines to compete with the best in the world. We like this bold, confident new world attitude. A “must do” tasting is Vina Errazuriz’ Chilean wines; they never disappoint and Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - £10.99, lets you smell the sea beyond the herbal meadows , delicious.

According to Rupert he likes to provide with his wine fair the means and encouragement for local residents to experiment with something other than what he refers to as “Surrey water”, which, to the un-initiated is Pinot Grigio!

Talking of local events, Bramley Village Fete is on Sunday 30th May, 1pm until 4.30pm. This bank holiday celebration really kicks off the start of the summer season. This year, in addition to the traditional stalls and amusements, there will be a brilliant sheepdog display, music from the soon to be signed band “Satellite Cities” and curry lunches from the famous Champan restaurant. All the more usual village staples such as barbequed sausages, teas, sandwiches and cakes galore will be there and our recommendation for food and wine matching for the day is to visit the Pimm’s stall and the Beer tent with local ale, always a popular choice. Entry is free, so see you there.

Wine on tap is not a new idea, and could tie in nicely with your British cultural visits this summer. Inspired by a painting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a royal summit meeting held in France in Tudor times, an ornate fourteen foot wine fountain replica has now been built in Hampton Court. The working replica will dispense wine which visitors will be able to buy for £3.50 a glass. In the days of Henry VIII wine from the fountain was free of charge.

Still in Surrey, Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey and a possible contender for our virtual boy band being an attractive early fortysomething - is aptly now Culture Secretary. We are, however, a little concerned about his cultural credentials as it has come to our attention that he eschews wine in favour of Sake, a potent Japanese fermented rice wine. We applaud his feeling for continuity in that he apparently speaks fluent Japanese, but which came first we wonder, the Sake or the language? Irrelevant if, like us, you can understand neither. We do feel that in order for Jeremy to be fully accepted into our Surrey community he should get a working knowledge of what the locals drink. He is after all hardly going to be popular turning up to dinner parties with a bottle of “eau de paddy fields”. Both Heathers agree that in the spirit of community service (of course), it would be quite fun to help educate him. - awaiting your call.

Finally, those in the happy position to be able to invest in wine are eagerly anticipating the Bordeaux 2009 vintage, rumoured to be absolutely stunning. Older bottle sales have hit the record books and the Liv-Ex 100 Fine Wine Index shows a rise of 166% over the last five years and is now at an all time high. This is mainly due to Asia’s insatiable demand (Jeremy Hunt please note) and shows no signs of abating. This of course just confirms that it is Red White and Rosé for all your liquid assets!

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