3 Mar 2008

Plate Tectonics

'Here the wives from Pinner and Ruislip, after a day's shopping at Liberty's or Whiteleys, would sit waiting for their husbands to come up from Cheapside and Mincing Lane, and while they waited they could listen to the strains of the band playing for the tea dances, before they took the train for home...'
[John Betjeman]
CAUGHT AT Baker Street station: a suprisingly preserved advertisment for Chiltern Court, 'London's New Restaurant'. Built in the 20's by the Metropolitan Railway, this 250 cover retaurant formed the centrepiece in a much larger residential/commercial fusion that also included the railway companies headquarters. The 'cavernous' room (PICTURE) is now a Wetherspoons. Yawn.
I am tentatively trying to fathom a wine from the Valais, south west Switzerland, a canton balanced along 80kms of the Rhône. The region is home to the country's largest concentration of vineyards. The bottled ambassador: Dôle Chamoson '02, a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, with a pinch of native Diolinoir to add 'tannin and colour'.
This browning red has a plucky nose, with whisked glossy cream, proper carpaccio, red berry paste and Joss stick. On the palate, a curt, pomegranate pith texture unequivocally takes control. There is even a gentle nod to the Durian, a spiked fruit from South Asia described by writer Richard Sterling as: '...pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock...' I rather like it, however, probably because of its strict attitude. (Most Swiss wines I have tasted are hard-sprung).