Six Yorkshire wine merchants tell Christine Austin what they would take into their nuclear bunker.
Maybe it was something I said, but my husband moved to Switzerland last year. I wouldn’t normally bother you with my domestic arrangements but one thing I discovered on my many weekend trips to this small, expensive, quite highly regulated country is that there is space in a nuclear bunker for everyone who lives there.
It was on my first visit to his flat that I noticed the two heavy concrete doors that lead into a vast basement space, subdivided into little wire-cage type rooms, each with a door and lock. It was creepy at first, especially since we were told that we are supposed to keep supplies of food, water and other essentials in case the world turns nasty. But like flat-dwellers the world over, there is never enough space upstairs and so the various cages in the bunker are gradually being filled with spare furniture, lampshades and sports equipment.
Now Germany is suggesting that its citizens should also stock up with food and water against some imagined future disaster so I began to wonder whether this cautious attitude might eventually spread to Yorkshire.
It crossed my mind that, should there be a need for a bunker, I would want mine stacked with rather more than water and baked beans. I made this suggestion to several Yorkshire wine merchants and they came up with their selection of wine that they would grab on their way to the bunker, or even have it stored ready and waiting against the day it is needed.
Andy Patterson, of The Halifax Wine Co, has weighed up the matter seriously, dividing his selection between everyday wines to eke out his time in the bunker and Armageddon wines that could be enjoyed at “one final heck of a party”.
Bottled sunshine is the theme for everyday, with Cento Cavalli Grillo 2015 from Sicily (£8.95, Halifax) providing crisp Sicilian lemon flavours and a mouth-cleansing freshness. The rich, creamy fruit and minerally crunch of Robert Oatley Signature Chardonnay 2014 from Margaret River in Australia (£10.95) would be a good accompaniment for whatever food he has managed to stash away, while Curtea Regala Feteasca Neagra 2013, from Romania (£10.95), has bright cherry and blueberry fruit and a touch of warming spice.
With no constraints on budget, Andy’s Armageddon would be preceded by Charles Heidsieck Brut Millesime 2005 (£71) for its peach and honey flavours and sheer gorgeous complexity. Condrieu Les Ceps du Nebadon 2014 from Alain Paret (£33.50) has also been selected, for its peach and pineapple fruit that apparently goes well with canned tuna, while the party would be rounded off with a magnum of Contino Gran Reserva Rioja 2005 (£103.50).
Jonathan Cocker, of Martinez Wines in Ilkley and Bingley, has selected a fine range of wines, although he has tried to keep within a generous Yorkshireman’s budget. He splashes out on Gevrey-Chambertin 2011 from Domaine Gallois (£42.49) for its truffle-edged fruit then steps up the price scale for Ch. Clerc Milon 2005 (£84.99), an elegant Pauillac. Jonathan rounds off his choices with a bottle of Gould Campbell Vintage Port 1985 (£59.95) on the grounds that if he is going, he might as well drink the whole bottle and go out with a headache.
Jamie Goodhart, at Bon Coeur Fine Wine in Melsonby, has taken an optimistic approach to his choices with age-worthy Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2004 from Ch. de Beaucastel (£47) capable of lasting a considerable time in the bunker before needing to be broached. He has selected Meursault 1er Cru “Perrieres” 2014 from Yves Boyer Martenot (£55) for drinking in its youth. He has also decided that his bunker Bordeaux would be a Pauillac. The cedar and spice of Ch. Batailley (£31) would release many memories of Bordeaux to help time fly by.
Peter Fawcett, at Field & Fawcett in York, will also conjure up memories of time above ground with his choice of Hunters Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from New Zealand (£12.45). He has worked a vintage there and will appreciate the fresh, crisp flavours in the wine, while thinking about all that fresh, crisp Kiwi air. He also has managed to select the least expensive wine for the bunker, and so perhaps could take in several cases of Pé Tinto Herdade de Esperao 2014 (£6.20) for its lively primary fruit and spice. He finishes with the harmonious, complex flavours of Barbaresco 2012 from Produttori del Barbaresco (£27.45).
Andy Langshaw, at Harrogate Fine Wine, has selected Barbeito 10 year old Sercial Madeira (£30) which will survive quite happily in the bottle even when it has been open for a year or so. On the same reasoning he will take in Fernando Castilla Antique Oloroso sherry (£26), which can be sipped and savoured for months or even years. Should he need to raise his spirits he plans to pop the cork on a bottle of Champagne Janisson Blanc de Noirs (£49).
Over in Huddersfield, Rob Hoult has decided that wine is probably more important than food and has selected Domaine Madeloc Banyuls “Solera” Hors d’Age (£35 for 50cl). This hedonistic sweet wine has been maturing in a solera since 1921 and a small glass would probably substitute for several meals. To lighten the mood in the bunker he suggests Alasia Moscato d’Asti 2015 (£7.99), which smells like spring blossom and ripe fruit, while Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon (£23.99) goes well with steak tartare and since cooking facilities might be limited this will certainly come in handy.
So what would I take into the bunker? Well, I have the choice of trying to get to my reserved space in a Swiss bunker and spending days, weeks or even longer in a German-speaking environment, possibly with an endless supply of sauerkraut. Alternatively I could find out where these Yorkshire merchants have stashed their wine and head there. The Yorkshire option sounds like a lot more fun! I’ll bring a bottle or two.