The long bank holiday weekend provided an ideal opportunity for a family get together. Remarkably, we managed to find a house big enough to take 15 on budget in the quaint village of Erdisland, Herefordshire.
My job on these occasions is to provide the wine. There’s a strong demand for crisp, dry, unoaked white wine, and as most samples meeting this description get drunk at home, I had to buy a few bottles. Richer whites have a small but committed following. Champagne always goes down well on occasions like these, and there’s also a place for richer, more complex red wines alongside normal summer fare of Pinot Noir and Beaujolais-style quaffers.
The house we rented was spectacular, both on the outside and inside, too—beautifully done out, and with a lovely outdoor area for eating. The gardens were nice and big enough for some football. The only slightly negative aspect to the weekend was that the local pub had cask-conditioned ales on that were horridly out of condition, and I didn’t have the heart to mention it to the friendly landlord who was short of custom. Such a shame.
On the Sunday there was a lot of excitement in the village because of the duck race. Not real ducks, but plastic ones. They all clustered together a bit, so it was hard to distinguish an outright winner.
We finished the weekend off with some lanterns that Dan had been given for his recent birthday. We can’t use them here in west London because of the proximity of Heathrow airport. They may have environmental issues, but they were quite beautiful, drifting off into the countryside-dark sky, of the sort we don’t really get in the city.
Three wines to mention: rich whites of various guises, tasted together.
Château Paul Mas Vignes de Crès Ricards Blanc 2011 Coteaux du Languedoc, France
A bold, striking blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Vermentino. Fresh, lively and intense with grapefruit, vanilla, toast and herbs, as well as peach and pear fruit. Some richness but also lively acidity. Crystalline fruit quality. 92/100 (£14.99 The Old Butcher’s Wine Cellar, Cookham)
Laurensford Winemaker’s Selection Chardonnay 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Some rich, broad, toasty, spicy nuts but the core here is fresh lemon and white peach fruit. Rounded and rich yet fruity and crisp. Nicely judged. 90/100 (£11.99 Eynsham Cellars, Ellies Cellas, North and South Wine, DK Vintners, Le Canon Wine Shop)
Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010 Casablanca, Chile
Ripe and bold with peach, fig and toast notes. Lively and broad with some pithy notes and some citrus zip. Textured, broad and satisfying. 90/100 (£12.99 Co-op, Majestic, Dunedin Wines, The Vineyard, Cheers Wine Merchants, Cambridge Wine, Hailsham Cellars, Tivoli Wines)