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WATER, WOOD AND GROUCHO

While Ed Miliband channels the power of Funkadelic with his bright pink tie and his “One Nation”, in a game of one-upmanship that any politician would be proud of, we’re going to shout about “Two Nations” instead. We’ll start with South Africa and end with France and might add a little sprinkling of Portugal for good measure.

Jules Renard was a novelist who wrote “Poil de Carotte” (Carrot Hair), an autobiographical short story about the trials and tribulations of being ginger and French, and “le Plaisir de Rompre”, a racy sounding title that suggests it would be advisable to use a Kindle if you wanted to read it on public transport (á la Fifty Shades of Grey). We’ll admit we’ve never read either of these books by Monsieur Renard. We got a bit scared when we found this quote from him: “the horse is the only animal into which you can bang nails.” We hope he was talking about hooves, as it made us think of that Blue Peter story about them putting a nail through one of their tortoises while boxing it up for hibernation. Or was that just an urban myth? Anyway, the watery quote above is either his ironic humour or alternatively, despite being French, he may have known nothing about wine. But he might not have been too far off the right track. Rather than adding water to wine, the key may be in making the wine underwater…

Our wine buyer Ana Sapungiu just brought in Cellarfoot’s Underwater Syrah, a South African wine aged for 11 months in barrels submerged underwater. Honestly, we promise we’re not making this up. It’s one of the most intriguing and astonishing pieces of winemaking we’ve ever come across. But Ana didn’t stop there, oh no, she also managed to secure us a couple of web exclusive small parcels from Tokara’s Miles Mossop, owner of what is probably South Africa’s finest vinous curriculum vitae. We’ve got his Bordeaux blend “Max” and his unctuous dessert wine “Kika”, made under his own label. Be warned, when these are gone, they’re gone, and we may not even be able to finish this sentence without getting distracted by the urge to go and buy som…

If you have a moment you can read why Ana loves South Africa so much on Wines of South Africa’s blog. However, if you are short on time you can see all the wines featured on our website here. We heartily recommend the Lothian Pinot Noir, which has just picked up a score of 90pts from Wine Spectator for its maiden vintage.

Crazy-haired Berty Einstein was just as sharp as a splinter. But it isn’t just the chopping of wood that the people love, they also like to plane it, sand it, chisel it and most importantly make wine in it. But not in Champagne surely? Well yes actually, let’s go back to school, but don’t worry it isn’t a woodwork class. To make Champagne, you firstly make a dry white wine. This is then popped into bottles with some yeast and some sugar, which ferments. The by-product of this fermentation, carbon dioxide, is absorbed into the wine, which turns into bubbles when you open it. Since the 1950s the initial dry wine has mainly been made in stainless steel. However, in the days before stainless steel it was the norm to make them in wood imparting a gentle oaky note. And that is what Billecart-Salmon have done; they’ve gone old-school for their “Sous Bois”, giving it an exquisite texture with notes of toffee and grilled brioche. Just don’t call it SuBo, Billecart-Salmon don’t appreciate the comparison with Scotland’s premier mezzo-soprano and they’ll get angry and come after you with a hacksaw. Trust us, we found out the hard way, which is why we now enjoy this woody Champagne while tottering around on our wooden leg. There are another couple of amazing Billecart-Salmon wines on our website and even more in our shops.

That’s all from us, but before we go we just wanted to let you know that there’s a new post about Portuguese wines on Blogbins, which is best enjoyed with a glass or two of our new favourite fine wine; Niepoort Doda. Oh, and as it’s National Sarcastic Awareness Month (who knew?), we’ll leave you with one of our favourite quotes from an old master…