Tipple of choice on the 7:35?

Most commuters live a routine and humdrum existence.  The times of trains are anchors in ours lives. Mine is the 7:35 from Andover, for Rob, occasional guest blogger on this website, it is the same train but for him it is the 7:49 from Overton. People read their newspapers, books and electronic devices.  Some work solidly, some sleep solidly.  One in four people are listening to music and so are in their own, hopefully sealed worlds.  Very occasionally a conversation strikes up but rarely lasts long.  There is always something to attend to on one’s own – like writing pieces for this website. But every now and then something usual breaks out … a little wine tasting perhaps? 


Rob had texted me to ask whether I would be on the normal train. (There is an element of doubt about this as we both work at home some days or are away with work. In fact we travelled to work not just on the same train but in the same carriage for three months before we realised that we were doing so.  We are in the last carriage of nine in case you want to join us and bring a rare bottle.)  I responded to say that, no, I wouldn’t be on the train tomorrow but I would be on the following day.  In fact as is turned out there were three of us as David Thomas, who founded Caviste in Overton and has since moved on to diamond city big boys Bordeaux Index, based in Hatton Garden, was also on the train. That’s him pretending to answer his emails and look like a proper commuter in the picture on the right.  We tasted this wine blind while the other commuters simply carried on doing what commuters do as though nothing unusual was happening.  Keep calm and carry on!

I took one sniff of the wine and said, ‘Was this wine sherry when you opened it?’ The answer was ‘yes’.  So what IMG_0932sort of Sherry is it?  ‘Fino or perhaps Amontillado.’  (I added the later because of the richness.) Yes, but is it Fino or Manzanilla?  ‘ I couldn’t tell a Fino from a Manzanilla’ … and I should have added, ‘on the 7:35 – later in the day perhaps!’ 

Rob’s question was why is Tio Pepe Fino En Rama better than just any bottle of Tio Pepe.  Unfortunately, some how he had failed to bring either a normal bottle of Tio Pepe to compare it with or a spitton. Really, the wine tasting service on the North Hampshire to Waterloo train is not what it is cracked up to be.  To my mind the En Rama is rather richer, more intense, with marked bread, nut and yeast notes. 

Technically Tio Pepe En Rama is a selection from the best soleras where the flor, the top forming yeast which keeps these sherries hyper-fresh, is strongest. The wine is then bottled unfiltered and unclarified, straight from the cask. It is sold to be drunk within three months.  A very impressive wine … and one which casts a whole new light on the commuter’s routine existence. 

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