6 Aug 2006

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

THIS WEEKEND, an impromptu sojourn to Lamberhurst, Kent, a site linked with Chapel Down. The animal gallery starring lolloping rabbits and the occasional goat proved the liveliest entities within this 25acre vineyard plus vino beauty spa (hard to imagine such a thing at Nyetimber). It certainly wasn't the staff who made the experience, complaining about being on their feet all day and begging for tea breaks. Nor was it their denigration of the produce, going into Chapel Down's oak tea-bagging policy and the poor label design of the Curious Grape range. Tea bags on the brain. I tasted widely, including Chapel Down's '03 Pinot Noir [£12.99] served unflatteringly warm and again swamped with oak. I was not worthy of sampling the Lamberhurst Pinot Noir '04, however, made with fruit exclusively from the vineyard I was standing in because of the ambitious price tag [£25]. NB. this vineyard served the most thrifty samples I've encountered which doesn't inspire lavish spending. The Pinot Blanc '04 [£9.99] showed some promise, however, although it felt perhaps overly chaptalised.
Down the road, Disgusted went to Tunbridge Wells where I drank water from one of the dipping wells. Served by a young lady in disparagingly twee garb, what came across was her enthusiasm, something lacking at the vineyard. Very clear, pale gold in colour with iron dominating the palate with calcium (the periodic table springs to mind), the overall impression was of dried blood. Two glasses [40p] soothed a hangover caused by my share of the following the previous evening...
Domecq La Ina [£7.49, Sainsburys]
Exhilirating acidity with an attractive flor tang, served cold with olive and peppadew laden bruschetta. Allied Domecq is now in large part owned by Pernod Ricard. These drinks companies just get bigger, like carniverous Russian Dolls.
Danie de Wet(shof) Chardonnay Sur Lie '05 [£5, Sainsburys]
Unsalted butter, cornflour, pine nut squash and a hint of cinder toffee made their presence known in this ultra-clean, un-oaked Chardonnay from this Chardonnay specialist. Kept on the dead yeast cell lees, the resulting extra freshness provided enough bite to act in tandem with squid, chorizo and prawn paella.

Valpolicella Valpantena Ripasso '04, Connubio [£6.99, Sainsburys]
With an aroma of warm, suntanned flesh, this slightly silty, raisin and sunflower-seed scented wine was rendered complex and complete with a feminine palate of bitter cherry, a ring of fennel and a bitter finish. Worked well with Dolcelatte.

Lustau Amontillado, Aged 12 Years [£6.99 per 50cl, Sainsburys]
Lustau make the best sherries I have tasted. This lithe, nutty Amontillado, with its twist of bitter orange peel and striking aftertaste, worked well with nettle covered Cornish Yarg sheeps cheese (stuck for a brand, its inventors, the Gray family, simply spelt their surname backwards).