Saturday, 23 April 2011

Denbies Flint Valley

House of Commons gift shop, £9.50

I've got mixed up in a lot of weird stuff over the past couple of years, and much of it will doubtless do lasting damage to my physical and mental wellbeing.

I have recently however managed to kick a nasty little politics habit, and to mark this triumph I had a bottle Denbies Flint Valley onto which someone had stuck a Portcullis logo and a £2.50 markup.

The bottle's label strikes a rare blow against the staid conformity of including information regarding the grapes or vintage of its contents.

"A blend of the premium grape varieties grown on the estate" it boasts. A lesser mind than mine might take this at face value, but I had my suspicions it might be a clever code for "A mixture of early-ripening and frost hardy German grapes that you probably couldn't pronounce, even if you had heard of them."

A quick consultation on the website reveals it to be a NV blend of Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner, the two most widely planted grapes in the country no less. The former is a crossing of the fearsome sounding pair Seibal 5656 and Seibal 4986, whilst the latter is a weird 1939 crossing of Muller-Thurgau, Madeleine Angevine and Calabrese Froehlich, themselves each crossings of crossings of crossings in a horrifically complicated and near limitless regression*.

If I was the Germans I'd just be happy with Riesling.

Anyway somewhere mixed into the DNA of Seyval Blanc is a horrid little non-vinifera American grape which means that it can't be used to make quality wine in the EU, and this presumably explains the lack of vintage.

All this science had a.) given me a headache, and b.) made me feel a little nauseous. And the prospect of having to drink the product of it wasn't filling me with enthusiasm.

God this is unpleasant. The nose is weird and dank and animal-y. Grass and compost. In the mouth it's light and relatively inoffensive, but there's no length. The fruit scarpers early and leaves fox piss and dead mice.

As if to prove the utter necessity of using dodgy grapes to make still wine in England, I happened to be enduring this particular bottle in the kind of weather that you would always assume to be a physical impossibility. The sun was shining, it was a warm 25 degrees, and large chunks of ice were falling from the sky.

Happy St. George's day. Time to emigrate.

*(((Pinot Noir x Trollinger) x Précoce de Malingre) x Calabrese Froehlich) x (Riesling x (Pinot Noir x Trollinger))

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