Monday, December 19, 2016

Another Little Christmas Murder with d'Arenburg Nostalgia Rare Tawny

I've just written and deleted a long list of all the things I don't much like about Christmas (non of them being specifically book or booze related). It's a complicated, difficult, time of year full of contridictions, expectations, frayed tempers, and memories.

A comment from an Australian reader on the Pinot Noir post took me right back to my early Oddbins days; Australian wine was a big part of the Oddbins story, and for anyone of my vintage d'Arenberg wines specifically where a big part of our wine education. It's a source of general frustration to me that they're no longer widely available on the high street in the UK. This week it's been a very specific source of frustration, I'd pay good money for both a bottle of Footbolt Shiraz, and Nostalgia Tawny. They are available online, but I'm not available to take delivery so I'm doing without. Footbolt was the first wine I bought home as an Oddbins employee, and of all the things I could say about it, it's the fact that I've remembered it that's the most telling.

I bought 'The Nostalgia' that first Christmas and fell utterly in love with it, it's essentially an Australian version of an old tawny port, made using what sounds like a Solera  system (in the simplest terms small amounts of new wine are blended into older wines to replenish stock, so overall you end up with a mix that will have traces of really old wine in it but also the freshness of younger vintages), and mostly containing Grenache - not found in port, so no direct substitute is available. The result is a nutty, complex, wine with notes of spice, toffee, dried figs, and more. It's fresh, intense, layered, and altogether a very good thing. I do indeed feel nostalgic for it.

Vintage crime seems like the perfect accompaniment to this one, not least because the mood in both is deliberately nostalgic. 'Another Little Christmas Murder' is one of this years crop of reprints, complete with snow and country houses as well as characters called Dilys and Inigo, I have high hopes for it - though as the pile on the floor shows - I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to this sort of thing - which doesn't at all mean there isn't room for more. Winter is made bearable, pleasurable even, by the opportunities it affords to enjoy small pleasures and luxuries. Reading old fashioned mysteries and drinking wine like this tick those boxes for me.


  1. My brother-in-law, who died last year in Cheltenham and who was so kind to my parents, was a member of three wine clubs.
    One of the rooms in his house looks rather like dear old Oddbins.
    He grew up in Malawi and liked his whisky.
    I have happy memories of Oddbins in Woodlands Road, Glasgow, where my old friend James Campbell, who works for the TLS and the Guardian, had a part-time job in years gone by.
    Last Sunday in Waitrose there were many mouth-watering wines at keen prices.
    On Christmas night I will partner one of those wines to Joan Hickson's Miss Marples.
    At Bertram's Hotel or The 4.50 From Paddington are my favourites.
    I might watch again the dramatization of the novel Affinity by Sarah Waters, starring Anna Madeley and Zoe Tapper. Two fine actors.
    Sara Waters is an accomplished storyteller.
    Her sad tale confirms Charles Bukowski's quip about love being a dog from hell.
    I can hear Joan Hickson saying nodding wisely at that, bless her.
    J Haggerty

  2. Trying to send this post on to d'arenberg wines, D'Arry will be 90 on Tuesday, he is a good friend and fishing mate of my husband's. Loving your posts, both of books and wine

  3. Did you hear (on the grape-vine, boom boom; sorry) the story about D'Arenberg's 'Dadd' sparkling, where Mumm stepped in to make them change the name?

    1. I hadn't, but it doesn't surprise me, the champenoise are famously litigious. I guess humour isn't always their thing either.