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As was summer 2007, so is the same season in '08, just without the beautiful April preceding it. The sun is an infrequent visitor, clouds our more regular heavenly companions. I look out at the rain and sigh contentedly; this is just one of the benefits of being a fisherman and, yes, fishing is what I am to be doing next week. On Friday I set off for the Borders. On Saturday, I will wet a fly in the waters of the Tweed, that river that makes up the border between Scotland and England for much of its length. And on Sunday, I drive further north, to a location east of Inverness, where three days on the Findhorn await. So when people stare at me, thinking me mad as I giggle at the raindrops falling outside the window, I pay them no heed. My skin, in this regard, is waterproof.
More friends came to stay the weekend before last. They brought their three childen and a very interesting bottle: 1990 Vouvray Moelleux from the Domaine des Aubuisières. Was it Rabelais who said that drinking Vouvray is like sipping taffeta? I considered this as we enjoyed glasses of this delicious liquid and came to the conclusion that Rabelais possibly had a stash of the stuff that he was trying to shift. Yet this is divine ambrosia: sweet, complex and mature. Why is drinking Vouvray still seen as some sort of arcane rite? I suppose it's because Chenin Blanc, like Riesling, just has too much character for its own good. What the majority of wine drinkers like is a bit of fruit flavour and lots of wood spice, much as the majority of eaters like bland food that's been made to taste of something by the addition of salt, or sugar, or MSG, or similar.
I recently opened my first bottle of another case purchased from an early Bowes Wine offer and thought that I would report the results. The wine was the 2002 Indigene made by an outfit called Spinifex in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. It's a blend of Shiraz and Mataro (the Spanish name for Mourvèdre that the Aussies have adopted) and was tremendous value at £125.80 in bond a dozen. The wine I found under the cork remained in a remarkably youthful state. Like many Aus wines, it is quite drinkable now, but this puppy will keep like the dickens. Here's the note I took 72 hours after uncorking the bottle:
"Opaque ruby-garnet with a very narrow band at the rim. The nose is spicy (mace?), with warm bramble fruit. There's a fudge-like concentration and hints of liquorice, fruit cake and ginger. The palate is nicely composed, with a good purity of bramble - slightly pastillised (?) - fruit. There is some integrated tannin and decent freshness. There are minerals wrapped around the long, long finish. This is very, very good and there's absolutely no hurry to drink up."