Last week, I visited a friend’s flat, near where we live, and, from its ninth floor location, it offered views of a different London. I might have been a pigeon, looking abruptly down on some buildings, as Battersea Power Station stood on the skyline. I considered this strange inversion of the familiar world as I sipped something new to me: orange wine.
My friend had laid on a tasting of wines from the Le Soula vineyard, in the high eastern Pyrénées in France. The Maceration du Soula is made by leaving white grapes to ferment in contact with their skins; the wine, whose flavour might be likened to dried apricots, comes out a similar, if less intense colour.
That high up, the vines of Le Soula must hug the ground if they want to keep warm at night, but the altitude produces the acidity to make wines, both red and white, that mature with age. The first vintage made by the vigneron Gérard Gauby was 2001, and the white is like a diva at the height of her powers: girlish charm has given way to depth.
Our house in Pimlico used to be owned by a wine merchant. I won’t say that the cellar is empty- it’s full, but not of wine. What a glorious inversion of the familiar it would be to find it stocked. Let me dream…
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