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An old wine surprises me

Open That Bottle!!!

My mum and her sister lived in Suffolk and many years ago when I visited I would pop into the local vineyard and buy a case of wine.

My tastes changed and for whatever reason I have two bottles of 1974 wine left from those times. I haven’t wanted to throw them away because they are ties with those far off days. But I have been instructed to move my wines (they’re mine except at dinner time when they’re “ours”).

So I had to empty the Eurocave before moving it to the garage. Time to dump these old undrunk and undrinkable wines. But, first I’d open one. The cork was spongy, there was appreciable ullage, I managed to extract the cork by fixing it with a waiters’ friend, and using a butlers’ friend.

I poured a glass and this is what it looked like

1974 Cavendish Manor Muller-Thurgau (England, Suffolk)

Golden - as expected, but it didn’t smell off. So I tasted. It is sweet, concentrated, and attractive. If one didn’t know it was a 47 year old English Muller Thurgau one would think it a recent wine, maybe lightly fortified, maybe from the Jura…

Will the other bottle be as good? Should I use it in a blind tasting?

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Love seeing things like this, awesome! I bet there aren’t many more bottles of that knocking around.

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Is the vineyard still in production ….??

It doesn’t appear to be. Although the wine is called Cavendish Manor it comes from Nether Hall near Cavendish, Suffolk.

Using Google Earth I couldn’t see sign of vineyards near the property.

I assume it was an interest of the owner B T Ambrose and those that came later didn’t share his enthusiasm. There may be TWS members who live nearby who could confirm it.

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Lovely story,

Thank you.

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M-T, a very unfairly “dissed” variety these days but can be lovely if the vines are pruned properly and the yields kept in check. Does well in the UK and much nicer than Seyval. Still championed at (fairly) nearby, 30 miles west, Chilford Hundred https://www.chilfordhall.co.uk in Cambs.

Interestingly, Sudbury tourist info Cavendish Manor Vineyards & Nether Hall Historic Sites in Sudbury, Suffolk still calls it “Cavendish Manor Vineyards” and intriguingly “visitors can take part in wine tasting”.

Added ammunition is that the private property “The White House” on the main street used to be a pub in the 70’s called “The Grapevine”.

According to Frank Hale’s “Cavendish in the 20th century” Cavendish in the twentieth century , Nether Hall is located directly opposite the St Mary’s Church on Peacocks Road and on Google Earth here it is, and was a museum and gallery according to Philip’s Suffolk Street Atlas pub. 2003, but now there is not a sniff of it on Google search.

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I agree with you about Muller-Thurgau. Just as apples which are flabby when grown in warmer climes, are crisp and fruity grown in cooler England, MT can make a delicious crisp dry wine when grown in England.

I saw the Sudbury Tourist info website, but it is obviously way out of date.

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I think we can all agree that sometimes bottles get left and forgotten about in the cellar, but leaving it for 47 years is tremendous, chapeau!

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To be fair, while the vintage is 1974 but I didn’t buy it until 75 or 76!

Absolutely LOVE this. Basil Ambrose (the Vintner) was my distant Cousin who died last year at the ripe old age of 97. We are in the process of taking over Nether Hall (as soon as the dreaded probate process is complete!)
He was so proud of his wine and even has letters from Queen Mother thanking him for the case he gifted her!

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Basil retired in the mid 80s but remained a Nether Hall until his death in 2021 (Aged 97) He was born in the house and wanted to see out his days there too! He rented the fields to local farmers to farm after his retirement so the vines are no longer there as their interests were other crops. My husband and I are taking over the property once probate is through and hope to reinstate some vines (probably for nostalgia and personal collection rather than business- although there are still boxes of the labels left that could be applied to any produce made!

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Thanks very much for that info. I’m glad Basil lived so long and managed to stay all his life in Nether Hall. I wish you the joy of it.

I do hope you plant some vines. They grow like weeds and need severe pruning. While you could use the labels on wine you don’t sell, if production gets alrge enough there are a lot of laws - and taxes - that will apply and I’m afraid the label on the 1974 vintage on its own would not be legal.

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This is wonderful ! Best of luck with your purchase and re-instatement , it sounds like a challenge but a worthy one . We would love to see some
Pictures of you ever get a chance .

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