Monday, 22 January 2018

In praise of FHV

FHV? Sounds like LVMH or something? In fact it couldn't be more different from the luxury French fashion brand.

Forty Hall Community Vineyard is London's only commercial vineyard and the largest since the middle ages. It is situated in Enfield in North London just inside the M25 ring road. It is the initiative of Enfield Council and the local Capel Manor College and is run by volunteers on a non-profit basis.The aim is to bring wine production to the heart of the local community and to champion quality, sustainability, health and wellbeing particularly for isolated and vulnerable people. It follows organic and biodynamic principles.

Grapes grown there include Chardonnay, Pint Noir and Pinot Meunier for the Brut Sparkling wine and Ortega for the still white wine. There are 10 acres of vines and the wines are made by Will Davenport in Sussex - an excellent address.

 Forty Hall is managed by an entity called Enfield Presents, an offshoot of Enfield Council. This arrangement seems to be very enlightened. Perhaps other councils could note?

 As well as the vineyard there is a farm, and an orchard both run on an organic basis.

Capel Manor College is the only further education college in London that specialises in learning about the environment.

Forty Hall Brut Sparkling
The estate shop sells farm produce as well as the two wines from the estate. They were sold out of the still white, the Ortega - when we visited but it was available online.

Although charging the same as for s decent Champagne, the sparkling wine was worth the price and proved a hit when served to friends. The back story was a help of course.

Ortega is a variety we have had admired in the past (Biddenden makes a very good example). It is a crossing of Mueller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe bred by Hans Breider at Wuerzburg in 1948 and is surprisingly aromatic. Forty Hall's version is elegant as well as spicy. We're not sure why Mr. Breider chose to call his grape after the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset. Perhaps because Ortega "asks us to build a new idea of being (that is, of life). Life is not an object, does not have a settled nature nor is a substance." ? This might apply to any newly bred grape variety.

Forty Hall makes a good excursion for Londoners and its wines deserve iconic status in our view. Are re you listening, Paris and Berlin?

Weddings too!

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