Posts Tagged ‘Bodiam Castle’

Wonderful day had on Thursday!  Irma from Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard rang early in the week to see if I was available to come and help with the harvest and I jumped at the chance.

Early start required and we pickers were all at the vineyard just before 8am.  I was very excited to be picking at the Bodiam Castle vineyard – this could be one of the most beautiful views for grape-pickers in England!  We arrived in convoy, and early in the morning the Castle is absolutely breathtaking.  Misty and magical.

No doubt that I should have brought the wellies though.  The grass and the nettles that relax among the vines were extremely dewy and made my old trainers sodden.  Wet feet all day is not what the doctor orders, but I seem to have got away with it.  Many thanks to Kiwi Giles who leant me some waterproof trousers.

And amazingly, I didn’t cut myself with the secateurs.  They were bloody sharp.  But it’s interesting: you definitely get into a rhythm when you’re cutting. 

Inge gave me some good tips at the beginning, and then you just settle in to the clipping and catching.  Two or three small bunches of Bacchus grapes collected in one gloved hand as the other snips.  Reminded me that I need to get back to the surgery and ask about the vasectomy.

And before I knew it, we were stopping for morning break and a quick cup of coffee sat with WOOFER Elizabeth (that’s ‘worker on organic farms’ for those of you who, like me, didn’t know the lingo).  It’s so lovely- when it’s a choice, and you’re not doing it every day for a pittance – to be able to do some manual work instead of sit in front of the computer.  The clipping became quite meditative and was punctuated by little bursts of conversation with your picking partner – because you go down the vines in twos – one either side, so as to be quicker and not miss any grapes.  And we talked a bit about our lives and interests, and a Julian Barnes novel or two.  Very civilised.

And then, before I knew it, we were stopping for food.  And a sit at the top of the vineyard overlooking the castle munching my packed lunch of oatcakes and cheese and apple, with the clouds scudding by and the sunshine warming the face – and the soul.

The afternoon’s work was a bit different, and saw us trundling a rough-hewn cart up and down the vines collecting the crates of grapes in a way which felt quite appropriately medieval given the context.  The wasps were having a field day: purring drunkenly as we hoiked the crates and stacked them on the trailer behind the tractor at the bottom of the field.

And in a flash, it was time to down tools and get back in the car and head up to Sedlecombe to pick up our liquid earnings. 

A thoroughly magical day collecting the Bodiam Harvest.  I will drink my next bottle with just a little bit more pleasure!


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Bit of a departure this week from the general theme of scouting for the bargains. Instead, I want to let you know about a wine from a local vineyard.

Last week, we took a Canadian friend of ours to Bodiam Castle, for a traditional English picnic (in the drizzle), followed by a visit to Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard.

If you’ll excuse the pun, they are a really friendly bunch at Sedlescombe, and have just become the first vineyard in England to be certified as biodynamic. I won’t try to explain that here. Google it, or think: ‘organic, with a bit of a crazy twist’!

We tasted the range of wines, and there were a couple that really stole the show. I personally loved the Regent 2010. But I’m going to review one of their white wines.

The Bodiam Harvest 2010 is made from Reichensteiner grapes grown at Bodiam Castle vineyard. It’s a very pale lemon colour. First aromas are of apples and pears – and are really pronounced. Second nose (after a swirl) gives more citrus and a whiff of boiled sweets! Soft in the mouth with good body, there are honey and lemon flavours with a cidery twang too.

It’s medium-dry and a bit spicy. We were planning to have ours with a Thai take-away, but (guttingly) Thai Xperience in Robertson Street is closed until further notice… It’ll go equally well with a fresh seafood salad.

At £12.95 this is high-priced, but it’s hand-crafted, and worth it for a special occasion!

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Earlier in the year I went to Bordeaux to complete a course at the Wine School there.  I met some fantastic people and made some good friends.  One of my fellow wine travellers  – a lovely, funny Canadian – has spent a couple of days with us on her Grand Tour of Europe.

We were able to take her on a traditional English picnic at Bodiam Castle (plus drizzle).  And we visited Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard on the way home.

We had a fab time.  Susan, who led us through the tasting was knowledgable, warm and welcoming.  Inge (who is in the video clippet) was absolutely brimming with enthusiasm. 

There are exciting things happening at Sedlescombe.  They have just become the first vineyard in England to be certified as biodynamic.  They have won awards for their First Release white and Regent red wine…

I will be reviewing the Bodiam Harvest 2010 in my Resident Wine Guru column next week.

All I can say is: get yourself down to Sedlescombe – it’s well worth a visit!

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