Sunday, 5 September 2010

Last of the summer wine

September, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.  According to the French Revolutionary Calendar, we are bang in the middle of Fructidor, the name celebrating the abundance of the season.

For the young this time of year marks the start or continuation of their school or college life, and for some of us the return to a routine not based on making the indolent most of the fickle British summer weather.
Happily, September is the most reliably sunny month of the year in the South East of England, so we can look forward to the harvest-gold sunshine and intensely blue skies that characterize this changing season. The days get shorter and there is a sharper coolness to the mornings and evenings; birdsong becomes more apparent as cheery, cheeky Robins re-instate their territorial rights.
Everywhere there is fruit of the season, from trees laden with apples, plums and pears, to hedgerows of blackberries, sloes, elderberries, hips and haws. They constitute a veritable feast for the opportunist forager and are a sign of continuing bounty and re-birth for future seasons. Taking advantage of all this food for free really makes you feel part of the bigger picture, as nature calls, as it has since time immemorial, us to go out and gather the fruits of the field and to cook, bottle and store against the coming winter’s shortages.

If this whets your appetite for foraging, then you should track down a copy of “Food for Free” by Richard Mabey, originally published in 1972, when we first got a taste for ecology and all things green, and rarely out of print ever since. Once you've leafed through it, you won't be able to look at a hedgerow or roadside verge without getting a rumble in the tummy.
You can, of course, make wine from almost anything, depending on your own preferences, but also it is quite satisfying to make a rather stronger cordial from fruits and leftover cheap bottles of vodka, gin and brandy. Heather A has made some amazingly tasty, blow your head off Elderberry Vodka, which is tasty and not so lethal if mixed with tonic water, mking a warming alternative to a naked summer vodka. Try also steeping rosehips in gin, pears in brandy and, of course, your own brand of sloe gin would be stunning. Take it easy with all of these concoctions: they are perfect for sipping at home on a darkening evening when you don’t have anything too demanding to do. You could also pour some of your home brewed mixture over fruit and ice cream for a lively pudding.
With the distinct smoky whiff of Autumn in the air our palates are leading us towards something more mellow and satisfying than the flippant summer white and rosé wines we have been slurping with salads and bolting by the barbeque. Ideal for this time of year is a light red with a little zip of warmth and spiciness, nothing too weighty but with fruit enough to reflect the season. Words like silky, mellow, juicy and evocative seem reflective of the right wines to drink now.

Our selections this week:
Falanghina 2009, Terredora, £9.99, £7.99 if you buy 2, from Majestic. Falanghina is the name of one of Italy's many fascinating native grape varieties, even though it sounds more like a radical Middle Eastern organization. Its perfumed, fleshy body is just the kind of white that suits this time of year. 
Domaine des Anges, Ventoux Rouge 2006/7 - £7.35 from online merchant Big Red Wine Company. This wine proclaims itself to be from the place of angels, we think it is a heavenly balance of juicy damson fruit and soft spices.
Cuvée de Tête, Brouilly 2007, £7.99 from M&S. Beaujolais (for this is one) is hopelessly unfashionable, but maybe this will win a few people over: soft tannin, light, juicy strawberryish fruit with rose-scented overtones. If the sun makes an appearance, you can even chill it.
TH Pinot Noir 2009, Undurraga £11.95 from the Wine Society.The TH stands for Terroir Hunter, conjuring images of adventurous vignerons searching out long-forgotten vineyards in dangerous and remote areas of Chile . The truth is doubtless more prosaic, but the wine delicious, like a walk through damp woodland with the scent of bonfires on the air, juicy, ripe berries in your hand.
If you thought September marked the end of summer festivals, then joyfully seek out your wellies once more and head for Weyfest at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford this weekend, 3rd to 6th September.  Celebrate the countryside while you listen to new local bands and nostalgic giants of the past such as Focus (remember the yodelling?), The Zombies (still the epitome of ageless cool) and our very own Stranglers (Guilford's local gone global band). A “Strange Little Girl” might suggest a bottle of homemade Rosehip and Sage wine to accompany the day's rustic frolics, though we think that around your “Golden Brown” campfire, “Nice N Sleazy” and snugly wrapped against the damp, reminisce with wine to match the music, try the Domaine des Anges as you indulge your senses in this Surrey heaven.

No Spring nor Summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one Autumnal face.” John Donne

Walks with Wine
...or how to Indulge your passion and feel smugly righteous at the same time!
Our first "walks with Wine" event will be this Saturday 11th September - meeting at 10.30 am at The Parrot pub, Broadford Road, Shalford, Near Guildford, GU4 8DW. (Tel: 01483 561400).

The walk will be approximately 2 hours and around 7 to 8 kilometres, it will be at a comfortable pace to suit most people and levels of fitness -something more than a stroll but certainly not a power walk. On this particular walk there will be gentle hills, but nothing too strenuous. Please wear comfortable walking shoes/trainers and bring water in case it is hot.

When we return to the pub we will be conducting a fun informative wine tasting followed by lunch.
Our charge for the event is £20 payable upon arrival by cheque to Red White & Rosé which is for the conducted walk, wine tasting and pub lunch. Please look at our website "Events" section.

We hope this appeals to you and we would love to hear from you to discuss further and/or confirmation of numbers as places are strictly limited. PLEASE DO PHONE TO BOOK - 01483 892678

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