Days of cricket and @Moet_UK champagne

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Another image of a certain champagne brand in a cricket setting.

Not sure where and when this photo was taken but I believe it is a National Club Cup match.

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

Before we get immersed in all things depressingly electoral, a little light reading to lift the spirits in the shape of the Project Front Foot May newsletter.

Another bumper edition too as we bring the curtain down on our eighth season in Mumbai; plus further heartening news from our partners at Female Cricket; and the first pictures of the project kit distribution among Germany’s Afghan refugee community.



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Tony Greig celebrates with @Moet_UK

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Here’s a picture of Tony Greig, fine all-rounder and England captain, that hangs inside the India Room of the OCS Stand at The Oval cricket ground.

Not sure what match award he’s just won but a 3.5-litre Jeroboam or 4.5 litre Rehoboam – it’s hard to tell what size the bottle is – of @Moet_UK would have been perfect for 6’7” Greig.

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Wine and Literature: H. Warner Allen and “natural red wines”

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Herbert Warner Allen (1881-1968) is perhaps the great forgotten wine writer of the 20th century. I have been able to find very little information about him after being given a copy of his Through The Looking Glass by a friend recently.

He wrote several books on wine, including A History of Wine, The Romance of Wine, A Contemplation of Wine, and, intriguingly, Natural Red Wines (1951).

Doubtless to the disappointment of Alice Feiring and Isabelle Legeron MW, the books contents are as follows: “The wines of Médoc – The red wines of Graves and Saint-Émilion – The red wines of Burgundy – French maids of honour – Claret and burgundy vintages – Dominion red wines – Storing and serving of natural red wines”.

For Warner Allen and his colleagues in the 1950s, “natural” meant what today we would likely call “classic” or “fine” wine. But there is an implication that the classic wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy were made with a light touch and were therefore “natural”. “Bordeaux mixture” –  copper sulphate (CuSO4) and slaked lime (Ca[OH]2) – was widely used as a fungicide, which is seemingly far away from organic or Biodynamic winemaking principles, though bizarrely Bordeaux mixture is approved for organic vegetable (including grape) growing. “Natural” – in the contemporary sense – does not necessarily mean “completely free from sulphur or other additives”.

Warner Allen also wrote fiction, including the 1936 British detective novel Trent’s Own Case in collaboration with E.C. Bentley, creator of the splendid “clerihew” poem, which is a four-line biography like this:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Warner Allen’s short story “Tokay of the Comet Year” is similar to Roald Dahl’s “Taste”, with an expert challenged to identify wines, including a mystery Tokaji from the great 1811 vintage. Worth a read – and a taste.


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May 2017 fine and rare broking list

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Please find attached my current fine and rare list.

I do not own all this stock but broker most of it on behalf of suppliers. With the launch of Vins Extraordinaires, I am starting to utilise my own stocks to sell through the Assouline residency and at private and corporate events.

My prices are very competitive and significantly better than is the norm in London.

For example, a Mayfair retailer offers Lafite 2000 at £2,496.80 per bottle. I can offer it at £1,540.

UK delivery can be done on a next-day basis. Overseas deliveries can be done and are charged at cost.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any queries

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Wine and Music: “Das Lied von der Erde” by Mahler

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Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) is a six-song composition for two voices and orchestra written between 1908 and 1909. It is drenched in wine.

The words are from Hans Bethge’s Die chinesische Flöte, his translation into German of a volume of ancient Chinese poetry.

The first part “Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde” (“The Drinking Song of Earth’s Sorrow” or “The Drinking Song of Earthly Woe”) begins:

Schon winkt der Wein im gold’nen Pokale,
Doch trinkt noch nicht, erst sing’ ich euch ein Lied!
Das Lied vom Kummer soll auflachend in die Seele euch klingen.
Wenn der Kummer naht, liegen wüst die Gärten der Seele,
Welkt hin und stirbt die Freude, der Gesang.
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod.

Herr dieses Hauses!
Dein Keller birgt die Fülle des goldenen Weins!
Hier, diese Laute nenn’ ich mein!
Die Laute schlagen und die Gläser leeren,
Das sind die Dingen, die zusammen passen.
Ein voller Becher Weins zur rechten Zeit
Ist mehr wert, als alle Reiche dieser Erde!
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod!

(The wine beckons in golden goblets
but drink not yet; first I’ll sing you a song.
The song of sorrow shall ring laughingly in your soul.
When the sorrow comes, blasted lie the gardens of the soul,
wither and perish joy and singing.
Dark is life, dark is death!

Master of this house,
your cellar is full of golden wine!
Here, this lute I call mine.
The lute to strike and the glasses to drain,
these things go well together.
A full goblet of wine at the right time
is worth more than all the kingdoms of this earth.
Dark is life, dark is death!)

From the fifth song “Der Trunkene im Frühling” (“The Drunkard in Spring”):

Wenn nur ein Traum das Leben ist,
Warum denn Müh’ und Plag’!?
Ich trinke, bis ich nicht mehr kann,
Den ganzen, lieben Tag!

(If life is but a dream,
why work and worry?
I drink until I no more can,
the whole, blessed day!)

The mix of drunkenness and wine-fuelled exhilaration expressed in the words is, well, intoxicating.

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Wine and Music: “Le Vin herbé” by Frank Martin

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Frank Martin was a Swiss composer. No, I hadn’t heard of him either.

Le vin herbé (The Potion), composed 1938–1940, is Martin’s version of the Tristan and Iseult story, or at least the “love potion” part. It’s rarely staged but was performed by the Welsh National Opera in April 2017.

Tristan and Isolde drink a goblet of wine together, not knowing that it is actually a love potion that was intended for the elderly King Marke, to whom Isolde is married. The king hears of their relationship and condemns Tristan to death… I won’t spoil the ending.

Two hours of this is a bit easier to digest than 5+ hours of Wagner…

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Project Front Foot April newsletter

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A message from Vic Mills:

“More tales from the far Pavilions with the Project Front Foot April newsletter.

Another busy month in and around Mumbai with news of the Dharavi Cricket Academy plus more sterling work by our partners at

The final word goes to our recent Afghan Kit Aid adventure with an update from Essen.



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Wine and Music: “Chanson à boire” by Ravel

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“Don Quichotte à Dulcinée” is a song cycle by Maurice Ravel based on the story of Don Quixote.

One of the three songs is the “Chanson à boire”, which refers to “l’amour et le vin vieux”… Ah, what could be more enjoyable?

There are apparently over 40 references to wine in Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, most – if not all – of which would have been made on the hot plains of La Mancha, which to this day remains a source of simple and inexpensive wines.

I had to endure the 800+-pages of this book-shaped object as an English and European Literature undergraduate at Warwick University all too many years ago. I suppose that I should be grateful to have been forced to read it (and other horrors like The Faerie Queene and anything written by female poets before the 18th century) in the knowledge that it was very unlikely that I would ever reread it.

It hadn’t come to mind again until I read John Carey’s The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life (2014), in which Professor Carey expresses distaste for Cervantes’ depiction of mental illness. I agree: Don Quixote is big but it’s not clever.

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Champagne and Thrift: Samuel Smiles and Heidsieck Champagne

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A cartoon of Samuel Smiles by Edward Linley Sambourne, 1883, from “Punch”.
Smiles was a Scottish author and government reformer whose most famous work is “Self-Help” (1859), which promoted thrift and asserted that poverty was caused largely by irresponsible habits.

It is therefore a bit surprising that he is seen here enjoying a bottle of Heidsieck “Dry Monopole” Champagne, now called “Blue Top” and available at supermarkets everywhere. But Smiles’ exceptionally long life – he was born in the reign of George III in 1812 and died an Edwardian in 1904 – suggests that Champagne contributes towards good health and longevity.

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