Surprise, Surprise

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Where I stayed
Jelliffe Residence, Clapham
What I did
Denbies Winery, Surrey

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sue and Mike had told us they had arranged 'a surprise' for us today. We knew we were meeting up with the Edes again but didn’t know where we were going. We set out at about 10.30 and drove south to Dorking to visit an English winery. We had no idea that one existed. Sue and Mike thought that as we were on a wine tour of sorts this would be very appropriate. A further surprise was that another couple we knew from HK, Lee and Chris Duncombe were also coming. I hadn’t seen the Duncombes since Hong Kong in 1994. They have three children similar ages to ours, Hannah, Katie and Tom.

The winery tour started with an audio visual presentation explaining how the geology of the area was similar to that of the Champagne district in France and therefore one of the main wines produced at the winery was a sparkling wine. We then boarded a very robust wooden people mover that was on a track and moved about 100 metres through the winery seeing where the casks were stored and bottling occurred. We could have walked the distance quite easily and can only presume that the usual clientele are less mobile! We ended up in the tasting room where a woman with an uncanny resemblance to Quentin Bryce gave us a talk about the wines for tasting. We tasted two whites and a rose.

It is pretty clear that the site is barely warm enough for most grape varieties that we are familar with. Apart from Riesling Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they were basically growing lots of relatively obscure German varieties. I have had Muller Thurgau before but most of the others were well beyond normal.

We had lunch at the very nice Gallery restaurant there, good time had by all. While we were there, there was a local half marathon which displayed all the classic British eccentricity. Virtually no-one was running in conventional running gear but generally dressed up as fairies, bunches of grapes, gorillas, Spiderman etc.

We tried the sparkling wine and the red. 

We drove back to Clapham, about 1 hour, and had a barbecue dinner. We watched the closing ceremony of the Paralympics, AKA a very large Cold Play concert. We planned the next day. An 8:04 train from St Pancras meant we needed to leave at 6.15am, and wake up at 5.30am. We said our farewells to Sue and Mike and their boys who had been great hosts.

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