Saturday 30 September 2023 
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wines old and new

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Welcome to the wine section of our website. Our wine database lists the wines we have enjoyed over the years and is searchable by a range of parameters, including type, vintage year, price paid, when and where bought, wine region and grape(s). To see only wines currently in the cellar (as opposed to all the wines in the database) select the option to exclude zero stock. If selecting by grape variety, see the notes regarding loose v. STRICT.

To access the database, click the bunch of grapes at the right  [requires login]

One aspect of the composition of the cellar will not escape those with a keen eye, which is that is now dominated by the New World, as opposed to Old World. Back in the 1970s the primary source of wine into the UK was France, then Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal, with some fringe countries topping up the mix with cheaper wines. Examples such as Bull’s Blood (Hungary), Lutomer Riesling (Yugoslavia) and other dire wines from Eastern Europe spring to mind. Wine from Australia was epitomised by offerings such as Buckfast and Wincarnis ‘tonic’ wines; their main characteristic was that they were ‘beefy’. Major wine-producing countries weighed in with Don Cortez Spanish Burgundy, Blue Nun and Piat d’Or.

Most Old World wines majored on their terroir; where they came from. The grape from which they were made was something you only knew if you read up on the subject. Wines were (and in many case still are) labelled Chateau Margaux or Musigny (a red Bordeaux and red Burgundy respectively), Villa Antinori (Chianti) or Muga Gran Reserva (Rioja) — rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese or Tempranillo. Well the New World has changed all that, with the grape variety often the primary piece of information on many mainstream wine labels. Why is this so important? Because if you know what grapes you enjoy — and even more importantly those you don’t — you can seek out wines made from those varieties.

Regarding the wines in the picture at top left [click here for a larger version], to save you peering in the gloom of my late 70s cellar, they are listed below. Those were the days!
(top)
Tokay Aszu 5 puttonyos 1964
Château Lafite-Rothschild 1971
Château Mouton-Rothschild 1967
Dom Perignon 1964
Château d’Yquem 1967
Château Margaux 1969
Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus 1970
(bottom)
Bollinger RD 1966
Malmsey Camara Lomelino 1915
Cockburn 1955
Trierer Thiergarten eiswein 1970
Schloß Vollrads 1972

Incidentally, apropos of nothing in particular, I thought I’d share my favourite wine anecdote here:
There is a story, well known in Bordeaux, about a dinner party given probably about 1860 by the British Consul, Mr T G D Scott. One of the guests was M. Duffau-Dubergier, Mayor of Bordeaux and a very rich man. The crowning wine was the Mouton-Rothschild 1828. It was greeted with great enthusiasm and the mayor at once asked: “Have you much left?” “Alas, only a dozen bottles.” The mayor replied: “Well, my dear fellow, I’m going to make you a proposition: Twelve bottles, twelve thousand francs.” (almost 500 and the equivalent today of ??? many thousands of pounds).
“You are asking an impossibility of me, my friend” answered Scott, “but to show you how much I desire to fall in with your wishes, I’ll agree to share it with you, and we’ll say six bottles, six thousand francs.”
“My dear Scott” remarked M. Duffau-Dubergier, “if I buy wine at a thousand francs a bottle, it is on condition that I am the only man that can give it to his friends to drink.”
Scott thought it over a moment. “Right; we’ll say no more about it.” Then, turning to his butler, he said: “Bernard, decant us two more more bottles of the ’28 Mouton.”
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