The England versus France rugby match, ‘Le Crunch’, that takes place at Twickenham every other year affords us a royal opportunity to make merry with our winemaker friends from across La Manche.  This year Messrs Pascal Labasse, Vincent Cantié and Maxime Graillot travelled over for the weekend with high expectations for ‘Les Bleus’.

This enabled us to furnish the traditional pre-match car park picnic (superbly organised by my old friend Charles Allen) with lashings of Jurançon sec, Collioure: La Pinède and Crozes Hermitage: Domaine des Lises. Pascal commented that it was a treat to be able to drink his own wine in shadow of the West stand while entertaining high hopes for the match ahead.

Charles’ catering team, undaunted by the fact that our party had been joined by restaurateurs from Le Gavroche, Café Anglais and Chabrot, had sportingly provided a well-balanced menu with two main courses – a Gallic Beef Bourgignon and England’s most popular dish, Chicken Curry.

There was as much debate as to which red went best with the curry as there was on who would score the first try, but there was unanimous agreement that Vincent Cantie’s excellent Domaine la Tour Vieille: Banyuls Réserva was an ideal partner for the Chocolate Brownies and Pascal’s sweet Jurançon was as well-balanced a unit with the blue cheese as the English back row.

A torrential shower an hour before kick-off did little to dampen spirits and, unusually, the French saw this as a good omen, potentially negating ‘le Engleesh flair’. Sadly (pour eux), it was not to be and in a tight, physical contest ‘Les Rosbifs’ came out as winners. Our guests took it well and any dark mumblings about the referee-ing quality were quickly banished by post-match digestifs. Match analysis went long into the night, accompanied by toasts to good health, long lives and friendships augmented, with promises to do it all again in 2013.