Jefford on Monday

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Jefford on Monday: Drunk On Time

Jefford Madeira vineyard

It was almost Christmas, and I was running a fever. This, oddly, seemed to heighten rather than diminish sensual acuity. There was an end-of-term feel at the Madeira Wine Company, and I'd arrived towards dusk, too; those in charge of the tasting room gestured towards the reference shelves of ancient bottles, all of them open, indicating that I should try what I wanted, while they chatted with the peaceable lack of urgency you often find on islands, once the day's last boat has left.

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Jefford yeast

I've always been a moral relativist, and as time goes by I seem to be becoming more of a vinous relativist, too. There are some wine questions which just don't have a wrong or right answer. Take yeast, for example.

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Jefford on Monday: A Chill In The Air

Jefford infloresences Yquem

Vines flower with radical discretion. My second visit to Bordeaux this year coincided with the beginning of flowering: that shy lifting of the cap (in fact a fused bonnet of petals), revealing the five yellow pollen-dusted stamens and the green pistil (composed of stigma, style and ovary) at their heart.

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Andrew Jefford David Hume

Winegrowing is not artistic composition: a true work of art (poem, novel, symphony) is entirely created by the single fashioning mind. Without that mind, the work would not exist. What M. Guigal and Mr Gago do is craft: skilfully growing and then transforming an agricultural crop. Someone else could do the job, with less skill.

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David Clark Burgundy

Anyone know what a SAFER does? Cue silence, mostly. The answer, though, is fascinating, and useful for understanding French wine – or France as a whole, come to that.

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Jefford on Monday

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Award-winning writer Andrew Jefford's Monday column on Decanter.com