For as long as I can remember I’ve taken holidays in the wilds of North Wales and growing up in the Midlands I’m sure I’m not alone in this experience. It’s a place of breathtaking beauty and extremes – if the sun shines its idyllic however if it decides to rain, its well, the reverse.
My parents have a static caravan that has to still be painted green to ‘blend in’ with the country side on the North coast of the Llynn peninsula, it’s nearly all owned by the National Trust so it’s a case of no (white) blots on the landscape.
I spent my childhood on the spectacular beaches and now my children do the same – nothing appears to have changed in the last 40 years and all still seems reassuringly familiar.
On heading off last week I had packed my holiday wines – I’d not tempted fate and had my usual selection of southern Rhone reds – no whites or rosé, as that would have suggested that I was expecting the sun to shine at least once during the week and recent experience had indicated warming reds would be more appropriate.
I suspected that my Welsh wine experience would be a fairly solitary one but once you’ve got wine under your skin it seems to appear when you least expect it. We met another family with small children on the camp site (again borrowing their parents caravan and with a good 20 years of holidaying there under their belt) and during a chat over an impromptu BBQ Jeremy asked if I’d like a drink – and then went on to say, I really only drink wine and I love French wine – small world. So, we set about my holiday consignment and over the next few days we dispatched my Vacqueyras: Cuvée Spéciale 2003, Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau: Saint Gayan 2006 and a few others, including my last bottle of Vin de Pays Duché d’Uzès: Camp Galhan Pérassière 2007 that I’d left there from my last visit.
Later in the week we were on a small beach called Towyn that has always had a small shop (or ‘shed’) on the cliff top that sells ice creams and other beach paraphernalia – but this year had diversified into general random Welsh products – I’ve always liked the ‘unusual’ so was intrigued to see, for want of a better word, a “lump” of Welsh slate by the assorted Ben 10 surf boards – but slate with 3 holes drilled through that I decided had to be made for wine – and it was!
The slate was from the, now closed, Blaenau Ffestiniog quarry so there was never going to be another one – in the same way that wine vintages can never be repeated it was a must have – my wife was not as keen it has to be said – but anyway it’s now safely back in Wiltshire.
So, once you’ve got the wine bug – it catches you out when you least expect it!