Monday. Went down some chalk mines near Henley. I first had a look round these in the 80's when the Government put them up for auction. They'd been kitted out for WW3. Regional Command Centre for when The Bomb dropped. There were office desks and different coloured telephones, bunk beds and gas masks. I just wanted somewhere cool and stable to store wine, but clearing out all the Dr Strangelove kit was too daunting and we didn't have the money, anyway.
But a nice young chap we knew from his restaurant days did. (He set up what later became l’Ortolan in Reading and did it better than all who followed him). Today, it is very beautiful set of caves.
Chalk is not cut in low passages like other rock but in high gothic naves like curved churches. Just beautiful … white.
Barbara is looking for somewhere to store her bottles of fizz for their long maturation and this place would be ideal. It is identical to the 'crayeres' of Champagne. Solid, dry, and with a temperature that doesn't vary by a single degree all year. I covet those caves. But we still don't have the money to spare I guess. Pity, we could have some great parties down there.
A week of meetings and writing. Skip that.
Saturday went with some customers, Gus and Simon to the Test Match at the Oval. England only got one wicket, so not the most exciting of days. We are one of the sponsors.
With England being hammered by South Africa it was perhaps not so clever to put our (very) South African specialist Marein on our Laithwaite's Wine Bar. We tried to stop him grinning quite so much, but …
Our bar is now a beautifully converted vintage 'Airstream' American caravan from the 50's. All shiny riveted aluminium. She's got great curves and is called 'Coco'. Really very cute.
We sell cricket fans a good range of our best known wines by the glass. Also now by the carafe.
Glass bottles are banned at sports events by Mr L. Thansafety so we now decant everything into nice plastic carafes. But I think Mr. L has done us a favour there.
I believe all wine benefits from a splash decant but have not persuaded many it should always be done. Here it’s compulsory. All are getting our wines perfectly served. I think we should sell or give away these carafes - with glass ones as an optional upgrade.