Thursday 28 June 2018


So there we are on the boat, in the blazing sunshine, and my resolve to drink only boat-related beverages goes overboard when I discover that some previous boat guests have left a small stash of wines - undrunk by them, nor by my wife who doesn't drink wine anyway - in a locker under one of the seats in the saloon. Feigning indifference while in reality trembling with curiosity, I dig the things out from among a mass of time-expired UHT milk cartons and emergency water containers and find:

A bottle of Morgon
A bottle of white Côtes de Gascogne which is a complete novelty to me, I mean I suppose I must have drunk a Côtes de Gascogne at least once in my life, but when?
A white Burgundy from Tesco

My wife claims in passing that someone also left a Crozes-Hermitage knocking around but then revises this theory, deciding that perhaps this person brought the bottle with him and then drank the contents himself. Certainly, there's no sign of it - but still, I have three bottles of drink which in value alone clearly beats the horrible Porcupine Ridge Syrah I've brought down with me (because after all you never know when you might need some undrinkable red), plus a hideous Waitrose own label cheap Australian red which promises all manner of easy drinking now and deep existential regret the day after. My course is clear.

Results? The Morgon is pretty nice, but I'm not sure au fond how much I like Morgon, or indeed any kind of Beaujolais. Still. The Côtes de Gascogne, on the other hand, is delicious, really eye-wideningly so. I can't remember now who made it or what went into it, other than that I didn't recognise a single grape listed on the back, but it was delicious then and delicious in hindsight. I mean, delicious. Tesco Burgundy? Yeah, it was fine, too. But not delicious like the Côtes de Gascogne was delicious.

At the end of all this, I feel pretty lucky to have found a microcellar of neglected wines, rolling around in the bottom of an elderly sailboat, and knocked it off before it got any more corrupted; and we're sitting on a mooring just outside Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight feeling borderline smug (see pic of outrageous sunset) instead of merely exhausted and terrified, when it becomes apparent that what we think of as the Good Life is too small even to be lived, on account of the superyacht Amaryllis, which we suddenly discern at anchor, not far away.

Amaryllis is more than seven times the length of our boat and six stories high. Apparently it cost around £100 million to build, is the thick end of £700,000 a week to charter, takes fourteen passengers and nineteen crew, has a floodlit swimming pool, a gym and a steamroom and boasts 4,000 horsepower of engine to get it around. The interior is Art Nouveau-themed. There are leopardskin bedspreads in the staterooms. We cannot imagine what it is doing outside Yarmouth, which is delightful but not bigtime. Is it the Isle of Wight Festival, celebrating its Fiftieth Anniversary just a couple of miles away and boasting Liam Gallagher and Depeche Mode as top acts? Is Liam using it as a floating hotel, a rock star ultraglamping? Doesn't seem to be much action on board, so perhaps not, maybe just the crew.

But: what are they stashing away on Amaryllis to drink? Five'll get you ten that whoever is or isn't on board, they'll be demanding those Methuselahs of easy-drinking rosé that don't taste of anything, but which dull the pain of life on a huge faux Nouveau boat. Litres and litres of bland pink - whereas I, on the other hand, have had a brief and deeply satisfying excursion into French goodness for way less than £700,000 a week, merely by parasitising someone else's generosity. Does this tell us anything about the operation of the moral universe? I suspect it does; but I also suspect I don't come out of it terribly well.



  1. You've precisely encapsulated my feelings on Beaujolais. Cotes de Gascogne is deeply unpredictable, but isn't that part of the fun? Better that than the predictably mediocre Australian Red or Porcupine Ridge.

  2. Actually I found a second bottle of Cotes de Gascogne in the same place, yesterday. It may be a miraculous endless source. But I suspect not


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