Rain at last, which means mud of course, and the chill of winter. The happy gang of pruners from Tonga, who've tended the
vines for almost twenty years now, chatter to themselves and laugh as their expert hands prepare the vines for the
next vintage. It's austere, the vineyard now, dark fingers of naked vine poking at the sky. The hawk still glides overhead; looking for an early winter mouse or a last careless bird.
It makes all of us hungry, this weather. What could be more simple than a bacon hock, covered in cold water, simmered for forty minutes before adding onions, leeks, garlic, a bay leaf and a handful of barley, then simmered for another forty minutes, with a few bits of carrot added for the last twenty-odd minutes. Check for seasoning, and heap into bowls.
A rib-sticking, thick, meal in a bowl, just superb with a glass of Spade Oak Viognier. Big, beautiful, comforting wine, golden colour, with a smell of apricots, jasmine and hazelnuts. Soft and creamy in the mouth with ample acidity, perfect with the rich porky broth. Then kick back in front of the fire with another glass, and wonder what goodness next year's vintage will bring.
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