English Wine and English Wine Cellars

English wine continues to build a strong reputation. I have posted before on English wine, and on the vineyard at Chilford Hall near Cambridge, and I mentioned that an English sparkling wine was recently placed in the top ten in the world. That wine was chosen last week as the aperitif at the state dinner given in honour of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping (although it is worth bearing in mind that when President Xi paid a visit to David Cameron’s local pub they served him a pint of Greene King IPA, a dull, mass-produced ale; I have to assume this was product placement of some sort. Find a picture here, along with a selfie of the PM, president Xi, and Sergio Aguero). And applications for new vineyards continue to grow: 65 last year, compared with 46 the year before. These are not huge numbers, but they reflect the growing perception that English wine is heading in the right direction.

...right direction.  from Li Livres dou Santé (French manuscript, late 13th century

…right direction. from Li Livres dou Santé (French manuscript, late 13th century

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I have no idea how much English wine is drunk or stored in Cambridge, but you must imagine that some of the colleges have the best vintages hidden away already.

Cambridge (and I suppose, Oxford) colleges are astute and large-scale purchasers of wine. Trinity College has a cellar stretching from Trinity Street to the Cam, reputedly, with a stock of wine worth in excess of £1.6 million. Trinity is the largest college (also with the largest annual spend), but none of the colleges sells itself short. I remember as an undergraduate at Queens’ College having access to a ludicrous wine list at silly prices (and on credit, as I recall), and ordering bottles of vintage champagne and port to be brought up from the cellars. I recognise that am doing nothing to dispel stereotypes if I mention with particular fondness, relish even, the port, and one in particular, a Fonseca 1966, of which I had several bottles over my undergraduate year.

The wine would arrive twenty-four hours after you ordered it, covered in dust and spiders, and you would sign for it in biro, and take it away.

I do not know about English wine, but English wine-consumption is in rude health.

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