The best of tests



In the fourth instalment of our series on the art of picnicking, Fergus Stewart from our Fine Wine team reports on a recent trip to the cricket at Lord’s, and the bottles that followed play.

Of all the great sporting occasions, I struggle to think of one that allows for a gentle day of vinous contemplation and picnicking more than a day of test cricket, especially at the home of the game, Lord’s.

Tasked by friends with providing some suitable wine for the first day of the test against New Zealand, and to take advantage of the generous allowance of a bottle a head, I took as a starting point the advice of our Fine Wine Sales Director Jake Dean, who suggests that “the morning session should always be accompanied by Champagne, the afternoon by a crisp, fruity white and the evening session by the best Pinot Noir.”

Opting for a wine-themed test match of our own, opening the batting was a bottle the excellent Coates & Seely Brut Reserve. One of the top names in the ever-improving stable of English sparkling wine, a perfect match with some smoked River Test trout for elevenses, and foil to an early loss of wickets.

Switching to white for lunch, it was the turn of the tourists in the form of a magnificent bottle of Kumeu River’s 2011 Hunting Hill Chardonnay. Often put into blind tastings as a ringer for white Burgundy, this is a showcase of Chardonnay’s potential form the North Island. Delicious as an apéritif, this comes alive with some food, although shellfish would be a better match than the pork pies and sausage rolls we enjoyed.

With England in the ascendancy during the afternoon session, we kept with the Kiwis for a final bottle, opting for the 2010 Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir from Central Otago. Just starting to show a little development, this is a classic Kiwi Pinot, brimming with cherry fruit and a genuine challenger to many a Premier Cru Burgundy.

A pint or two of Pimm’s, which – along with cricket – is surely the finest of English summer traditions, finished the day’s play, successful both on and off the pitch. A win on the day for New Zealand in the wine battle, although the test went to England on the final day.

I’m already looking forward to a repeat performance for the Ashes test at Lord’s and a battle of the bottles against the formidable Australians.

For summer drinking look no further than our Summer 2015 offer, providing a definitive list of wines and spirits for the season.