Personally, I wouldn’t call myself the biggest fan of Andy Murray before his emotional outburst at Wimbledon final. I didn’t like his manner of a difficult teenager or a granite-faced robot, just hitting the ball efficiently and not lifting his finger to charm the crowd – as his opponent, Roger Federer, so naturally does. When poor Andy couldn’t hold back the tears after losing to Roger it did something apart from showing the Scot is not an automaton. You could practically hear the sound of hearts melting across the country in collective sympathy – and acceptance. There’s still a general attitude that “boys don’t cry” in many minds – mine included, at times. But as someone (a man) said to me recently, “if more men were allowed to cry, we would have less wars”.
Even I couldn’t help but warm up to Andy after Wimbledon. After the Olympic men’s singles final one could only admire him. It was a great victory, the title absolutely deserved and so much needed in his career. Still, there’s some shade of blues in my heart because its tennis part is given to Federer. I am totally in love with his gift to make tennis the most elegant sport, with his gliding across the court with the grace of a dancer and all the way making it all look so effortless, so easy. Besides, he’s good at crying too.
So, being divided as I am, I thought I’ll try to reconcile myself with wines from the countries of these great tennis players. Let’s start with the loser (though who’d dare to call Federer this?). Switzerland is a country ruled by common sense – plus banks, watches, cheese and chocolate. The fact that there are some decent wines there is a well-kept secret. Good stuff is almost always expensive even in Switzerland where there’s a strong domestic market. Most probably your Swiss wine will be white, and most probably made from a signature Swiss variety – Chasselas.
I tried Aigle Les Murailles Henri Badoux, Aigle for the first time during my trip over Switzerland when a friend, a local winemaker, showed me around many years ago on a beautiful spring day. We set off from a tiny, idyllic town Nyon near Geneva and drove toward Lausanne and Montreux. I still remember endless fields with bright-yellow flowers and lizards enjoying themselves on heated stones. One Swiss lizard stayed forever on the label of this wine.
The 2009 Aigle Les Murailles Henri Badoux is made from 100% Chasselas, from steeply terraced vineyards near town of Aigle. The wine is pale gold, with almost French minerality and almost German precision and lightness. But, being Swiss, it’s neutral enough to go with the whole range of dishes from salads to fish or white meat.
Now to the winner. Okay, Andy, I wish I could praise Scottish wines – and when I went to Inverness last year, some lovely people showed me their local ginger wine. But I thought we can celebrate this gold for team GB if not with whisky, than with a cool bottle of quality English sparkling wine. 2009 Wyfold Vineyard Sparkling Wine comes from a tiny Chiltern vineyard.
This one-hectare plot is a baby of Barbara Laithwaite, who in 2003 planted traditional Champagne varieties, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. The man behind Wyfold is Mike Roberts from Ridgeview – one of the best English sparkling wines around.
Being quite sceptical about this bijoux wine at the beginning, I had to give up and admit that the only problem of this sparkling is its price. The fruit is ripe enough to give you an impression you normally get from decent vintage Champagnes with all their briochy flavours. It’s not too light though fruity and can be a perfect aperitif. They made only 150 cases of the stuff – so we still have something to celebrate more victories before the end of the Olympics. Tears are allowed, boys.