Carrie Symonds has been in the public eye quite a bit recently thanks to her relationship with Boris Johnson. How anyone could go near Boris’ Johnson is beyond me so kudos to Carrie. Today, the happy couple adopted a puppy, Dilyn (which means follow in Welsh i.e. follow my lead), who is very cute and it led me to have a little look at her Twitter page. Carrie is a campaigner of all things eco but I was surprised at her response to Tesco’s latest efforts to cut plastic: “Recycling is not the answer.”
Now, I’m all for a good moan, I love a moan, I moan about all sorts of things. For instance today I moaned about how sinks are an awkward height if you’re over the average height. What I always try and do though is provide a solution, how would I have done something better? It’s all very well Carrie saying ‘recycling is not the answer,’ but come on Carrie, we’re already up to our fucking nipples in the stuff so what do you suggest we do with it?! I researched a little further and Carrie told everyone at the Bird Fair which was actually in my county, that she is doing her bit; “She said everyone had a role to play. “I’m far from perfect, but I try to remember to take a canvas bag to the supermarket, take my reusable bottle rather than buy plastic, and tonight I’m wearing a sustainable dress,” she said. “I can’t always do that, and I’m learning and I’m trying.” For someone who does actually seem quite intelligent it’s not exactly ground-breaking but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, trying is better than not trying at all.
In the wine world, there has been lots of murmurings about climate change and sustainability of late. I attended a discussion on the matter in London back in July, well it was about sustainability in California, the birth place of buttery Chardonnay. The lead speaker, Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson Wines in Napa Valley raised a lot of interesting points. Even now, away from my notes, I can recall Steve’s main point being, everyone has to do something, even if it’s just a little something, it’s better than nothing. Sustainability isn’t just plastic or glass or water, it includes the grape picker’s quality of life, and it’s the whole process of making wine from the deepest part of the soil to when the wine leaves the winery. Essentially, sustainability begs the question: ‘Will we still be able to make wine like this in five years’ time?’
What surprised me after the discussion, when we were upstairs tasting wine and cheese, is how despite the huge amount of effort Steve is putting in to being sustainable, there wasn’t the slightest clue of any of it on his wines. This is because Steve believes, as many others do, that having a labelling system can lead to competitiveness and more profit goals. A bit like dear Carrie, sometimes the people who shout the loudest aren’t doing much at all.
Bitterness aside, here are a few of my favourite fairly-easy-to-source Napa wines that are produced by ‘conscious’ wine makers, but you wouldn’t know it:
To fit in with the lovely little dog all over twitter today we have Hoopla, The Mutt, a 2014 mostly Merlot (80%) but some Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) blend. After a few statistics I read last week, I imagine that 80% of people buy this wine for the label alone, sold? If you aren’t a Jack Russell fan, let me tell you it’s deliciously autumnal. Nice and plummy, good structure, easy on the tannins. Would go well with meat, juicy juicy meat. It’s 14.5%.
A little journey from home takes you to Hambleton Hall. Owned by Tim and Stefa Hart, you will find the most wonderfully informative sommelier, Dominique Baduel, a French chap in every sense of the word. “Ee looks like an airy biker and ee produces magnificent wines,” he said in response to my enthusiasm for the Au Bon Climat Chardonnay. It was my Mum’s 60th and I was forced to share one singular bottle with a group. I was later thrilled to find out you can buy it from Amps in Oundle. If you like proper good Chardonnay, this is for you, if you don’t like Chardonnay, this is also for you. Trust me, you’ll like it! Funnily enough, people refer to this wine as ABC for Au Bon Climat, another ABC is the Anything but Chardonnay club, there’s a fine line!