An Unusual Summer of Wine
Last summer was a little different than we’re used to. 2020 won’t be remembered by many for the parties, the picnics and the proms of the usual summer, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find time for a little fun. As we edge closer to the end of lockdown 3, and the weather warms enough to turn to thoughts of rose, Team Vintner shares our favourite memories of a unique summer to whet your appetite for the one of the horizon.
One of my favourite days last year was my sister’s ‘would be wedding day’ celebration after her wedding was postponed (like many!). The sun was shining - ironically, it would have been the perfect day for a wedding – and we thought we best sample the wedding fizz lined up for the big day. Nyetimber from Sussex was the tipple of choice, and what a treat it is! Then came the rose, and whatever else we could find in my Dad’s makeshift garage cellar, but it truly was a great day, made a little better with great wine.
My most memorable experience last summer was the moment the government announced that lock down is going to be (semi) lifted. My friend and I had a girls night in with the intention of lifting our spirits and comforting our souls that have suffered psychological distress being stuck in our homes, deprived from human interaction.
My friend baked a homemade Vanilla/Purple Taro Cream Cake whilst I arranged for my Vintner favourites including the XX de Corbin 2014, 'La Gemella', 2019 and Andre Clouet Champagne, to be delivered to her door.
Although I helped myself to (un)limited glasses of wine during lock down, drinking wine with great company whilst talking about the most mundane complaints we've had whilst being stuck in our homes - from, which neighbours have secretly sneaked in Tinder dates to who had the most embarrassing moment over Zoom.
Spending moments like these with your love ones; the mood, the vibe, the energy, there’s nothing in the world like it.
My best friend Evie went back to Australia in January last year for a few weeks to renew her visa. She ended up getting stuck over there for six months due to the Coronavirus. When she finally flew back into London and after two weeks in quarantine, she came over and we opened a magnum of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Champagne to celebrate her return. We also ended up tucking into a magnum of 1er Cru Chablis. It was an expensive evening but totally worth it to be reunited and celebrating with my best friend.
My favourite wine moment of last year’s very formidable summer was our Vintner team picnic. We hadn’t seen each other in months, so we gathered in Parsons Green with an abundance of wine and pizza. It was fantastic to share a tipple with all the team and catch up. Most of us were drunk on the joy of social interaction after a summer of Zoom calls and quizzes (let’s never speak of these again!) before we’d even had our first sip of the good stuff. Wine alone is good, but wine with friends, sunshine and pizza is unbeatable.
My husband and I were due to go to Marrakesh for his 40th birthday in September. Instead we spent a few days in Kent, which amazingly timed with the September mini heatwave. (All part of my planning, obvs). Part of our mini-break was to visit Gusbourne Estate in Appledore where we enjoyed a fantastic tour of the vineyards, followed by a delicious tasting of their sparkling and still wines. It was the perfect day drinking amazing English wines right next to the vines. In many ways it didn’t feel like England, which I think made it all the more special to realise that staycations can feel like southern France, and that Marrakesh could wait for another year. Better still, husband was very happy!
I count myself very lucky in that I get on really well with my partner’s parents. I’m equally lucky that they love wine and will find any excuse to celebrate, so, when it was announced back in the summer that staying over with another household was now back on the cards, we headed straight to my partner’s mum’s house. True to form, she had some Nyetimber on ice to celebrate, and that first sip in July’s evening sun was a very tasty drop indeed.
When lockdown was announced (the first time) I was in a shielding group, so the 12 weeks that followed in the flat weren’t the most social. I think what people missed the most while inside was the ease of interaction. Checking in with family and friends became a managed event, part technological, part organisational, and in that, some of the joy could easily be lost.
Not so when your mother decides a family ‘zoom murder mystery party’ was a sensible, smart and achievable idea. My siblings and I, spread across the country and dressed in whatever loosely fitted the brief, attempted this most monstrous of digital get-togethers. Equal parts ridiculous and hilarious, we stumbled through pre-written dialogue to find a murderer, helped along by a glass or more of something good.
In the end, I didn’t guess whodunit. I still don’t know who it was now, but I remember the ease of interaction, and the feeling of the old normal that has been missing, and will return soon, I hope.
Having read this, Team Vintner decided to have a go at our own murder mystery, which was significantly more successful in dialogue terms at least. I still didn't catch the murderer. I think I'll bypass becoming Poirot and stick to wine.