The annual Summer lunch party passed without great incidence or injury last Sunday and thankfully the heavens failed to deliver the predicted downpours, although the winds did blow and there were a few breathtaking incidents of flying parasols (one of which was kindly returned by the neighbours). A glass or two of the extraordinarily good value 2000 Barnaut got proceeding well under way, before sitting down to Mrs Sandeman’s annual feast of rare roast beef, tomato and onion, and blue cheese and broccoli puff pastry tarts, roasted new potatoes, salads and cheeses! Visintini’s latest release of Collio Sauvignon provided a very refreshing start before laying into the two red wines chosen for the day. Not only because we have Martin Nittnaus doing a brief summer ‘stage’ with the company, we selected the light but beautifully intense Blaufrankisch made by his father, and to provide something of a contrast, being somewhat fuller and richer, one of our great Spanish finds from Priorat’s Clos Abella vineyard, incidentally also selected in the Times last Saturday as one of the top Summer wines under £25.00. Both red wines are biodynamically produced, and in spite of Sunday having been a ‘root day’, tasted awesomely good and judging by the number of empties were much appreciated by all. Pudding was a rich affair of intense dark chocolate ‘squashed souffle’ with homemade raspberry ripple ice cream and coulis, together with meringues, so what better choice than Hans Nittnaus’ superb 2004 Trockenbeerenauslese, which is intensely sweet, beautifully textured and balanced with vibrant acidity. By the time we finished Mrs S’s magnificent spread it was pretty much ‘beer o’clock’ and these helped washed down sausages in bridge rolls as the afternoon turned to early evening and staff were ‘assisted’ off the premises. It was commented upon that this year’s party was really very civilised, and perhaps this had something to do with the fact that we were short of Aussies and Kiwis (Peter was still tanning on a Greek beach) – but given the cricket score I am not certain that any Aussies would have turned up anyway. Another great lunch party, and a BIG thank you to Mrs Sandeman!