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Wine a little, you'll feel better

Saturday was a lovely sunny day - although sitting outside at Valentina's for breakfast with Californian friends Jon and Tamzen we worried they might feel the nip in the air. The farmhouse breakfast and the excellent coffee put paid to that and we milled about inside the deli briefly tasting the wine made from preserved cherries and crowing at the sight of the solid chocolate spoons. Then they had to admire the cats and eventually we crammed ourselves into the car and headed into Suffolk-n-Sussex in search of wine. Denbies is on the scale of an American winery, with a visitor centre and a wine train (drawn by landrover) around the vineyard and a little train through the cellar and various cellar tasting deals, all of which were full until late in the day, so we tasted and moved on. English vineyards tend to plant German vine varieties that like the chalky soil, but the bacchus and ortega grapes in one of the blends had a lot more character and flavour than the mineral Seyval.

Next we headed off to Godstone Winery. By dint of taking the road into Godstone instead of north, Simon managed to put us behind a couple of shiny Ferraris, one rounded and vintage, one modern and angular and both shiny red. We followed them to the roundabout where we were planning to turn and watched them turn and drive back past us, at which point Simon said 'that's Jeremy Clarkson and that's James May'. I spotted someone in the passenger seat of May's Ferrari and decided it must be the Hamster. At the junction they zoomed off onto the M25 again and we turned into the quiet country lane, past the fishing pond and stopped at the winery. Really it's more of a tea room (the scones looked nice) and we tasted wine and bought cider and pear juice...

We finished up - via delightful twisty roads and green tunnels of beech hangars - at Lurgashall, which does 'country wines' (made with everything but grape) and has shiny new labels; the EU decided that what  they make is more liquer than wine and so has to be sold in 70cl rather than 75cl bottles. The whisky mead is tangy, the spiced mead is subtly spiced, the blackberry wine is just yummy - as is the rose petal - the gooseberry is tart and the silver birch is as nice as ever, if a little sweeter than last year. And the ginger ice cream is perfect for eating in the sun as a black cat demands his allotment of pettings.

Bombay Bicycle Club for dinner; you can now order online and accumulate Pennyfarthing points! They're not our regular because they don;t do a spinach bhajia but they are very yummy.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
spikeiowa
29th Sep, 2009 17:01 (UTC)
English wineries. Sounds like a lovely day!
marypcb
30th Sep, 2009 17:27 (UTC)
visit when we're in the country and we'll take you!
liralen
29th Sep, 2009 19:16 (UTC)
Yum... Sounds like a wonderful day...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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full steam ahead
marypcb
Mary Branscombe
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