Saturday, 24 July 2010

What were the skies like when you were young?

My early years were urban, then, as I began reaching an age capable of appreciating the city's bounty, my parents started moving. Move by move we ended up further and further away from the metropolis.

At school I spent a lot of time staring out of the windows. I'll never forget one class, within sight of the Brecon Beacons, a teacher was extolling the virtues of Wordsworth's Prelude while sheep bleats drifted slowly on the breeze. "Breath in, breath in, can you not smell the genius?".

What seemed to fascinate him most was that way back in the 18th Century, someone was capable of expressing a desire to flee city squalor and head for pastoral peace. As classmates turned up late after helping their fathers castrate bullocks, all I could think of was heading in exactly the opposite direction, and as fast as possible.

Aside from plotting my escape, there was something else keeping me sane. Global Warming had just been invented and suddenly, for me, there could be a purpose to the countryside. A vineyard, and not any old hippy, dippy British style 'Good Life' nonsense, but a proper, full on, 'watch out Burgundy' one. I'd been to Beaune and while there, decided in a fit of precociousness, that it was going to be my favourite wine. Also, I'd read that Pinot Noir was very difficult to grow and all attempts to ape Burgundy elsewhere had failed. A challenge.

After months of research, mainly spent staring out of the school bus window, I'd isolated a site. It sort of faced in the same direction as the Cote D'Or and the soil looked suitably vineyardish, especially after a very dry summer. The fact that it belonged to someone else didn't seem to bother me.

Summers went by, plotting continued and eventually I escaped, so my vineyard dreams got left behind. Whenever I'm back I still cast a glance across the plot, one day, one day... then, just the other day, in Abergavenny Farmers Market, I stumbled across this...

Organically grown near Monmouth. Somebody else is living my dream! "Oh it's very nice. Has a bit of fizz to it, spritz is what they do call it my love". I was very excited.

After the fizz blew off, the bouquet was nice, more New Zealand than Burgundy. Unfortunately it tasted a bit odd, actually very odd. Not unpleasant, but a small 'novelty' glass is quite enough. The same people make delicious cider and perry. Really funky proper old school stuff, refreshing, complex and with more than a hint of badger's bath.


  1. Love the picture of the cow peeping out from behind the fence!


  2. thanks Briony, it was a lovely day for taking pictures... until those little fluffy clouds got their act together and produced one almighty torrential downpour!