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Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Mill Road Winter Fair - and Two Ferngrove Wines at Cambridge Wine Merchants

The early winter frost gave a brief respite for Cambridge's now-annual Mill Road Winter Fair; Mill Road, a buzzy, ethnically-diverse part of Cambridge, just south of the historic city centre, is home to a large number of independent shops and traders, including two wine merchants.
The fair includes street performances, children's activities (thank goodness !), food sampling and plenty of other stuff to keep everyone entertained.

According to Suzy Oakes, Chair of Mill Road Winter Fair, "Mill Road Winter Fair is the essence of Mill Road, distilled into a single day. Over 100 of the shops, cafes and restaurants open their doors and offer unusual dishes from their cultures, things which they might not usually serve here in England. Talented local people from all over the world emerge from their homes with arts and crafts, performances, food, entertainments and a warm welcome in a day of general celebration.

It is, in the truest sense, a ‘unique’ event."

After getting the children sorted with face paints, bouncy castle, cake-decorating and various sweets, I headed to Cambridge Wine Merchants who were getting into the festive spirit with a tasting of two Ferngrove Wines from Western Australia, some mulled wine to keep out the cold and, downstairs, warming shots of single malt whiskies from Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

I have been historically rather unimpressed with the Australian wines I have had of late - too many have been overripe, oversweet, and overstated and about as subtle as Hugo weaving in a dress, miming ABBA songs.

These two wines from Ferngrove, however, I found very impressive and, probably not coincidentally, more Old-World in style than New. The Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend from Frankland River had a strong herbaceous nose with gooseberries and passionfruit on the palate, some weight and waxiness from the Semillon and a very clean, balanced finish. Very impressive with a hint of challenge, and tasted blind, I would have put this in either a warm part of the Loire or a cool part of Bordeaux.

The Syrah was if anything more impressive; deeply coloured, with mulberries, blueberries, pencil shavings and lots of mixed spices on the nose, it had a cool-climate fullness and complexity on the palate that belies its southern hemisphere origins. This is one of the most impressive Syrah / Shiraz I have had in quite a while and it is likely only to improve further with age.
Ferngrove Symbols Sauvignon Blanc Semillon - £9.99

Ferngrove Estate Shiraz - £10.99

Both sampled in-store at Cambridge Wine Merchants, Mill Road.

Mill Road Winter Fair - http://www.millroadwinterfair.org/
Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Ferngrove Winery - http://www.ferngrove.com.au/

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