Budding expectations fail to blossom

04 April, 2008

I thought the prices seemed remarkably cheap for a guest house in Californian wine country, writes Lee Saged, of Hetton-le-Hole. "As a devotee of Blossom Hill I was desperate to explore the birthplace of my favourite tipple and when I stumbled on the website promising twin rooms on the estate for £25 a night - with a packed lunch for £5 - I ordered my ticket to San Francisco there and then.

"It was only when I showed my wife the website, blossom-hill.co.uk, that it was pointed out to me that the Blossom Hill B&B is actually in Hexham, Northumberland, run by a charming couple called John and Joan with no connection whatsoever to Californian wine. I tried to obtain some compensation through blossomhill.co.uk, but the people there claimed to run a design agency and knew very little about white Zinfandel. So I'm off to Rhyl as usual this July and have switched to Echo Falls in protest."

Old jokes home

We were absolutely disgusted to receive the following "joke" by email and reproduce it here purely to allow readers to share in that disgust.

A husband and wife are shopping when the man picks up a crate of a reassuringly expensive lager brewed in Wales and sticks it in the trolley. "What do you think you're doing?" asks the wife.

"They're on offer, only £10 for 12 cans," he says.

"Put them back. We can't afford it,"' says the wife .

A few aisles later the woman picks up a £20 jar of face cream and sticks it in the trolley."What do you think you're doing?" asks the man.

"It's my face cream. It makes me look beautiful," she says.

The man replies: "So does 12 cans of Stella, and it's half the price."

Resistance is futile

You're already on the lookout for drunks, 16-year-olds with beards and light-fingered people who wear huge coats in warm weather.

Now you should consider amending that sign behind the counter to include the bullet point "no hypnotists".

Police in Italy are studying CCTV footage of a man who walked into an Ancona supermarket, whispered "look into my eyes" to an entranced cashier, and left with £500 from the till.

The woman recalls nothing about the incident.

Your life in their hands ...

Talk about ingratitude. OLN lifetime achiever and all-round good egg John Mitchell found himself at dinner with local MP David Blunkett recently, along with restaurateur Johnnie Higginbottom and chef Jonty Cork.

The generous Sheffield wine merchant kicked off proceedings with a bottle of 1983 Dom Pérignon, described by the local paper as a "spectacular, toasty, yeasty and intricately nuanced Champagne".

John explained that Dom Pérignon is something of a family tradition: his father, who established the wine merchant business, always deployed it to toast the birthday of John's mother, which happened to fall on Christmas Day.

So what did the former Home Secretary make of such a prestigious wine? Not much, because according to the report, he "doesn't drink fizzy drinks".

So there.

Jumpers for mine hosts, isn't it?

We stumbled upon the website of Cheltenham wine merchant John Gordons and found a page of the collected thoughts of Ron Wine Manager. Space (and the threat of a copyright suit from Paul Whitehouse) prevents us from reproducing the entire text, but here's a sampler.

"Hmmm ... vatted Merlot, marvellous ... VAT 69, Pope's phone number, wasn't it? Sweet plums and chocolate liqueur, always the last one in the box, or is it the coffee cream - offering it to the lady wife with a cheeky grin - marvellous! Here's a claret. Expensive, mon cher, I should cocoa. Ah the clarets - West Ham at home, blowing bubbles, blowing games - the Happy Hammers - especially if you're auctioneer! The prices, isn't it, aren't they - tremendous? Thomas Jefferson, wine collector, cultivated footballer, two Lafite wasn't it (or was it two left feet?).

"The Englishman's wine though, n'est ce pas? An Englishman's home is his château. Château Latour, but where's the Château Latrine? Privy, I know thee not, what? Bordeaux, the great port on the Gironde, although nothing to do with port. Don't ask if you can't afford it. The Aussies won't have an inferiority complex though. Whinging Pomerols!"

Wine is the new pawn

You've pawned your first editions, your granny's wedding ring and your signed portrait of Robert Parker. What's left? Well, Crédit Municipal de Paris, the local authority pawnshop, is now accepting wine.

So far more than 650 bottles with a combined value of £45,000 have been handed over, with the owners receiving 50% of the cash value in return. If the wine goes unclaimed, it will be sold at auction. The wines must have a minimum value of €60, a figure exceeded by a factor of 100 by a 1985 Domaine de la Romanée Conti which is now resting in Crédit Municipal's 18th century cellars.

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