Forget about Zeus, Apollo & Heracles, when it comes to Greek mythology the real hero of the hour was Dionysus.
For those who perhaps aren’t up to scratch with their Greek narrative (us included), Dionysus was God of Wine, Merry Making, Theatre and Ecstasy. So let’s face it, we owe him a lot… He’s indirectly given us the gift of regrettable smooches, stained lips and teeth, room spin, Lambrini and headaches. Dion has also been responsible for some of the finest Broadway entertainment and amphitheatre, he was portrayed in Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic, Fantasia and more recently helped UB40 to a smash hit with his red grape.
He was known as Bacchus by the Romans and the Greek poet Eubulus, writing about Dionysus in 375 BC, summarises Greek wisdom on wine drinking
Three bowls do I mix for the temperate: one to health, which they empty first, the second to love and pleasure, the third to sleep. When this bowl is drunk up, wise guests go home. The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to violence; the fifth to uproar, the sixth to drunken revel, the seventh to black eyes, the eighth is the policeman’s, the ninth belongs to biliousness, and the tenth to madness and hurling the furniture.
Eubulus. 375 BC
Unfortunately, many of us do not hold enough of the self-restrain that Eubulus speaks of, for we toast to anything and are far from described as “wise guests” headed for our beds after three glasses. Thankfully though, violence, black eyes, policemen and airborne tables are few and far between when we enjoy a drop of the grape. So maybe a more apt translation for us and our peers would be:
10 Red Wines
Three glasses, we raise to toast: one to good health, the second to love and the third to rest. When this vessel is empty, the more sensible patrons saddle their chariots and head for their humble abodes. For after three servings we no longer drink for the taste, but for the effect of the intoxication and the debauchery that ensues. The fourth goblet isn’t ours to toast, by now the wine is in control, this toast belongs to “one for the road” and is the responsible culprit for all that follows. The fifth is sanctioned to lust, the sixth to the regrettable drunken text message, the seventh to greed for the top shelf, the eighth is the bartender’s, the ninth belongs to the kebab, and the tenth to the taxi driver.
With all this talk of wine, it would be rude not to introduce you to one of our favourite reds on the NC drinks menu, a Bordeaux called Graves Rouge produced by winemakers Château du Seuil.
In 1988 a Welsh couple named Bob and Sue Watts took their passion for wine and entrepreneurial spirit to the next step. Now this took some bottle (pun intended). With the greatest will and determination, they bought and relocated to Château du Seuil, renovated the Château and built a modern winery, subsequently re-establishing lots of the old vineyards in the process. Over the past 26 years their expertise and enthusiasm has helped produce some fabulous wine and now their daughter Nicola manages the estate. But even a quarter of a century on, the Pays de Galles influence on this small corner of South-West France is still evident, not least with the Welsh dragon sitting proudly at the base of each label.
The Château du Seuil Graves red wine is made from a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. The different varieties are fermented individually in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures, then pressed and passed into barrels to undertake malolactic fermentation. The resulting wines are fruity, well balanced with integrated oak flavours and firm round tannins. Additionally, in recent years the wine has developed the peppery characteristics of a classic Graves red. The finished wine is aged in oak for up to 18 month prior to bottling. It is pleasing on the palate, fresh and have a complex aftertaste. Delicious to drink now but can be stored for up to 10 years.
Château du Seuil, Graves Rouge will be permanently available at Nolton Corner for £29.95 (Unfortunately not the 1998 vintage though, that was a drop from our personal collection)