Country Life Today: The wine that’s unchanged in 900 years, and the woman happy to let her house tumble into the sea

This morning's news round-up discovers that ancient wine isn't so different to modern wine, marvels at the fatalism of a woman in unbearable circumstances and discovers that if a tree falls in the White House Garden, it makes a sound that can be heard all the way across the Atlantic.

That cheeky little bottle of white might be a 900-year-old vintage (sort of)

Some of the wines we drink today are identical to those drunk almost a millennium ago, according to a BBC report on some DNA testing that’s been done in France.

Scientists have long suspected this might be the case: most new vines are generally grown from cuttings, meaning that they’re genetically identical to their ‘parent’ plant. And now, after testing grape seeds found by archaeologists, they’ve proven that a Savignin Blanc (a different wine to Sauvignon Blanc) from the Jura region is made from grapes genetically identical to those being used in the early 12th century. The same team also showed that the Romans drank wines extremely similar indeed to modern Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Read more (BBC)


Happy birthday, Hugh Laurie

If you find it hard to believe that he’s 60 today, you’ll probably find it even harder to accept that peerless Blackadder Goes Forth was broadcast 30 years ago this autumn.


The woman who’s happy to let her house tumble into the North Sea

‘When you see that kind of power, it sort of makes you realise you’re just one little animal… Erosion isn’t destructive. It’s just change.’ Given that she’s about to lose her family home, Juliet Blaxland’s Zen-like calm is inspiring — and the book she’s penned about her plight is up for the top award in nature writing.

When life gives you lemons, as they say in the States, make lemonade.

Read full story (Daily Telegraph)


Wildcat wonders

This spectacular gallery from BBC Wildlife is worth a few minutes of anyone’s time.

See the pics (BBC Wildlife)


Stat of the day

571

The number of British plants which have gone extinct in the wild since the Industrial Revolution, according to a 30-year-long research project by a team of scientists including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. That’s double the number of animals to have gone into extinction in the same period.

Full story (Daily Telegraph)


Deep impact in Ullapool

Actual meteor strike not pictured. Obviously.

The biggest meteorite strike ever to hit Britain has been discovered by a joint team made up of scientists from Aberdeen and Oxford universities. Apparently it hit near Ullapool one billion years ago, a mile-wide meteor that hit the planet at 25,000mph.

Of course, there was no such country as Britain 1 billion years ago, and the land masses and oceans have changed out of all recognition. But the geological record holds the key anyway: ‘rock formations in the northwest of Scotland contain an “ejecta blanket”: a layer of debris that could only have been created by an impact from space,’ reports The Times’s science correspondent Tom Whipple.

Read more (The Times – subscription required)


And finally… Omen of the Day

President Trump and President Macron plant a tree in the White House Garden with their respective wives in 2018 to symbolise the friendship between the two nations. Credit: Washington Post/Getty

These things happen. But when it’s a tree planted to symbolise friendship between two nations who have enjoyed 240-odd years of almost-unbroken friendship, those tongues will wag…

Read more (Daily Telegraph)