Tag Archives: New Zealand

Five Grape Dry White Wine Wonder from Vineyard in the Garden of…

Blind Organic White Wine Tasting

Last night’s fabulous blind wine tasting with knowledgeable Tom Loudon at the Greenhouse on Bethel Street, Norwich, led off with a stunning dry white wine – which more than half the room chose as their favourite at the end of six tasting samples. The colour was beautifully pale, looking like straw with an accompanying grassy lychee scent. It had a slight effervescent tanginess, and mild sugary aftertaste, long and rounded on the finish and sharp on the teeth like an underripe hard green apple. After some food and time in the glass, it settled, mellowed and became more akin to the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that followed it in the tasting.

Davenport Horsmonden Dry White

Horsmonden Dry White Wine, Davenport Vineyard 2013 with a trio of goat's cheese, photo by Katy Jon Went
Horsmonden Dry White Wine, Davenport Vineyard 2013 with a trio of goat’s cheese

Both white wines were amazing with goat’s cheese, but the first wine, won to my mind – and in the big reveal it turned out to be an unfiltered organic 2013 English wine (£14.95) from the “garden of England”, Kent! It was delicious enough to think it could have come from the Garden of Eden and may have accounted for the fall of man!

Vinceremos says of it that it is “a wine which we love to present at blind tastings as it always performs so strongly and surprises so many when revealed as ‘English’.”

It’s been described as a wine “that can compete with any dry white wine from another country”. I’m normally an anglophobe when it comes to wine, but I was truly impressed.

On Vinceremos 6 out of 6 reviewers gave it the maximum 5 stars.

“It delights most with its blossomy lime aromas, zesty freshness and vivacity and great concentration of apple and yeasty flavours. A dry white best filed under ‘refreshing’.” – Vinceremos

On Abel & Cole’s site, all but 2 people gave it 5 out of 5:

“Horsmonden Dry White wine is an utterly charming, invigorating white. It’s an impressive English wine. Vibrant, super-fresh, and citrusy, it’s a light to medium body.”

Its long finish is best appreciated on its own before diving into any accompanying food.

Hamish Anderson, sommelier at the Tate, writing in The Daily Telegraph, described the 2013 Horsmonden as:

“a blinder – its pungent nose of lemon and nettles is not only quintessentially English, but also makes you want to dive in for a sip. A glass of glorious, spirit-lifting refreshment.”

Indeed, it is listed on Tate Modern‘s award winning wine list.

“Will Davenport’s Limney is in my view pound for pound one of the best English wines. We have worked with him for a number of vintages and its fresh, grassy style is ideally suited to the more casual dining environment of Tate Modern.”

The Vineyard

Davenport Vineyards started at Horsmonden in Kent and went organic in 2000, after planting their first vine there in 1991. Some 20 acres of vines makes them one of the UK’s largest organic producers creating a range of sparkling, white, and red wines.

The Grapes

Davenport‘s Horsmonden Dry White (£13.30 online) consists of Bacchus, Faberrebe, Ortega, Siegerrebe, Huxelrebe, from their oldest vines. A combination described as “alchemy” by one visiting commentator. Of these the 20th century varietals Bacchus and Ortega dominate.

Bacchus grape via Wiki
Bacchus grape variety

The Bacchus grape was a German cross-bred variety from a Silvaner x Riesling cross with Müller-Thurgau back in 1933 and grows in Germany and England now.

“Under British growing conditions, where the colder climate means that a higher acidity is retained and where only lower yields are possible, Bacchus can give varietal wines of reasonable quality, somewhat in a Sauvignon blanc-like style”

Wines made with Bacchus  grapes are often full of character, sometimes described as “exuberant”, in line with their namesake the Graeco-Roman god of wine and festivity. Bacchus, aka Dionysus in the Greek pantheon, was himself tutored by a drunken Silenus, who was often transported on donkey-back due to his own inebriation.

The Ortega grape, also of German origin, was a cross between Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe in 1948 and named after the Spanish philosopher and poet José Ortega y Gasset who famously pronounced “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” – “I am I and my circumstance”  and “I live therefore I think” – perhaps that should be “I live therefore I drink”!

Multi-Award Winning Wine

Horsmonden Dry White Wine, Davenport Vineyard 2013
Horsmonden Dry White Wine, Davenport Vineyard 2013

The Horsmonden dry white has won numerous awards since its inception in 1993 including the UKVA Wine of the Year Competition Silver Medal (the 2009 and 2013 won Bronze awards), the SEVA Wine of the Year Bronze Medal, and the Decanter World Wine Awards Bronze Medal for the 2010 vintage.

In the Soil Association Organic Food Awards the 2010 was Commended and the 2011, Highly Commended, but in 2014 was awarded the Soil Association‘s Organic Wine Overall Winner:

“Will Davenport has made a wine bursting with freshness and style that can compete with any dry white wine from another country while also having a minimal impact on the environment.”

The 2014 vintage

It’s been said that “2013 was a great year and 2014 promises to be even better” well it clearly was and the future looks rosy, well white at least, for Will Davenport and English wines.

Davenport describes the 2014 as:

“…soft, aromatic and fruit driven. Perfect for a summer afternoon or for drinking with white meats, salads and even quite spicy food.”

and the UKVA 2015 judges noted its:

“Fruity, peach nose, powerful tropical palate, touch of spice”.

2015-16 awards are now rolling in for this wine including IWSC Silver Medal and UKVA wine of the year competition 2015 – Bronze Medal winner.

For the truly organic and local ethical wine purchaser – without compromising on quality and taste, buying this dazzling English dry white wine saves on considerable carbon miles when compared to shipping a New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc half-way around the world.


Cricket – Jimmy Anderson is in, KP is out, EngvNZ go in because sun not out

James ‘Jimmy’ Anderson 400 Wickets

Jimmy Anderson Edgbaston 2009 via Nic Redhead
Jimmy Anderson at Edgbaston 2009 via Nic Redhead

Well done Jimmy Anderson in the ‪#‎ENGvNZ‬ 2nd Test sees him reach his 400th cricket wicket milestone. He is the 12th man to reach 400 Test cricket wickets and the first Englishman to do so after passing Ian Botham last month.  He had been waiting since the last Test, which England surprisingly won from a poor position, he made it with little wait in only his second over, third of the rain-affected day, go off for a shower, then come back on mid-over and ball after next strike again leaving New Zealand on 2-2! New Zealand recovered to 32-2 before going off for yet more rain.

Upon return, their recovery was short-lived and straight after tea, first ball of the 25th over, the up and coming all-rounder, hailed as the new Freddie Flintoff or Botham, Ben Stokes, takes a wicket leaving the tourists on 123-4. Ben Stokes, along with Moeen Ali and Joe Root, scored nearly 500 runs and took 8 wickets between them in an ascendant middle-order for England in the last Test.

The Rules of Cricket

The Silly Rules of Cricket
The Silly Rules of Cricket

Some decades ago, a spoof summary of the rules of cricket was written on a tea towel making them as clear as dishwater to be understood:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

The Rules of the Weather

The above rules need rewriting to take the weather into account. The first rule of the British weather is that if it’s summer, it must be rain.

In Anderson’s 2nd over there was a rain break between his wickets. The day began at 10:50am with Headingley soaked by Yorkshire rain. The 1pm toss was followed by 1:20pm drizzle, but a delayed start at 1:30pm, only to go off again at 1:40pm. At the end of the 7th over the covers came on and the batsmen went off, or rather got 20yds trying to do so, since the umpires and fielders had remained and they were called back to continue for all of two balls before going off again at 2:20pm.

So, the rules of cricket, in England at least, should be:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. The sun comes out, and so do the batsmen, but then the sun goes in and the rain comes out, so both sides go in, or rather – as it’s only a drizzle, the fielders stay out, whilst the batsmen going in are called back out. Then the rain really comes out and everyone goes in, whilst waiting for the sun to come out…

Cricket Fielding Positions

A Silly Guide to Cricket Field Placings on an Australian Tea Towel
A Silly Guide to Cricket Field Placings on an Australian Tea Towel

All that is before trying to even understand silly mid off, backward point or short fine leg! Several of these fielding positions should be renamed as water-logged leg gully, deep-under-water mid wicket, and short-leg-because-standing-in-deep-water!

Whilst listening to TMS (Test Match Special) on BBC Radio 4 Long Wave (or Radio 5 Live Sports Extra) it can be helpful to have an informative guide to the field placements whilst listening to the quintessentially English commentary that is more likely to tell you where the pigeons and weather blimps are than the cricketers.

Cricket Fielding Positions Silly Mid Off Gully Deep Bacward Square Leg
A serious guide to Cricket Fielding Positions

All this has been written whilst waiting for Jimmy Anderson and the revived England cricket team to come back out, except for Kevin Pietersen, of course, who is very definitely maybe out of the team, for now, at least. [Update 3pm: the players are back out and Jimmy resumes the 3rd ball of the 8th over]

UK Parliament tables Non-Gendered Identity 3-option M-F-X Passports

Third/Non-Gender passport options could be debated in the UK Parliament following a lengthy campaign by people outside the male-female gender binary who feel erased and discriminated against.

[UPDATE – Government “considering” changes to gender identity laws, passport and driving licence changes. Maria Miller, chair of the Commons Women and Equalities committee, said a person’s sex was “not relevant” on official documents, and it created an “unconscious bias” in job applications. Gender details on passports also do not assist with identification, she added. The committee will publish a report on transgender discrimination in January 2016. In an interview with The Times, Miller said gender stereotyping can be as “damaging” for men as women.]

Three gender option passports

A motion was tabled yesterday (5 June 2014) in the UK Parliament to allow non-binary M/F passport gender markers in the UK, to aid those that identify as non-gender, non-binary, agender, bigender, or intergender – or simply hate gender construct labels. The internationally allowed X marker already allows this, not as some compulsory trans or third gender marker which could be used to reduce people’s rights as citizens, but as a self-selected optional marker for those that feel they do not fit the only 2 options given in UK and most nation’s passports. Australia and New Zealand accept the non-gender specific X passport as do India, Nepal and Pakistan. Canada is debating change; Malaysia are allegedly considering removing gender from all passports. Argentina makes switching between Male & Female easy, without legal-medical requirements for trans, intersex, genderqueer, or anyone else for that matter – a move, it has been announced, that Denmark looks set to follow.

This motion is essentially a re-tabling of previous attempts, but taking advantage of a new Parliamentary session – it will need hundreds of signatures to even trigger a full debate.

“Although there is very little prospect of EDMs being debated, many attract a great deal of public interest and frequently receive media coverage … In an average session only six or seven EDMs reach over two hundred signatures. Around seventy or eighty get over one hundred signatures. The majority will attract only one or two signatures. An EDM is not likely to be debated even if it gains a large number of signatures.” Parliament.uk

The move follows LibDem sponsored Government reviews into this since 2011, and yet progress had stalled. The new early day motion has been sponsored by Julian Huppert (LibDem) and is supported by Jeremy Corbyn (Labour). Non-gendered Christie Elan-cane has long fought for non-gendered passports and had her case taken up by MPs such as David Blunkett (Lab), Liberal Democrat MPs Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes and Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP.

Some of the last 3 years’ history on this has been blogged about here.

One might think that just two options M/F on passports prejudices just trans, intersex and genderqueer people but if part of a family then gay, lesbian and trans are also affected as the designated parents on child passports. Some countries, including the US have thus adopted gender-neutral parenting option on children’s passports, not mother/father but parent 1/parent 2.

The words “mother” and “father” were being removed from American passport applications and replaced with gender neutral terminology, the US State Department said in 2011. The UK and Australia were said to be following suit.

Legal documents that reflect a person’s gender – or non-gender identity are a basic human right. Denying them, restricts, travel, identification, and citizen rights such as voting or access to welfare benefits.

“The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-genderedChristie Elan-Cane

Elan-Cane prefers ‘per’ in place of him or her and the honorific title Pr, short for Person, neither Mr nor Ms. Shouldn’t we all be entitled to be seen as persons first, and not primarily gendered categories?

Facebook now has some 50+ gender options, why do we need any on official documentation? The military does not use gender as a means of identification, just name and rank. Height, eyes, and finger prints should be sufficient on biometric passports. Gender, race and identifying marks are invasive, insufficient and inappropriate. Nationality, for the sake of legal travel rights and repatriation. But I cannot see how gender matters.

[An early version of this article first appeared here.]

Update on “X” Gender not specified UK Passports

During the current April-May 2015 General Election campaign, several parties, initially just the Greens and LibDems, but now both Ed Miliband (Labour) and David Cameron (Conservative) have pledged to re-examine X-Gender passports:

“The Conservative leader also said he would consider following Australia and New Zealand in introducing ‘Gender X’ passports for people who do not identify as male or female – after Ed Miliband also pledged to review the issue in his PinkNews Q&A