Eton Waffles

Etonians and common locals, 1937

So here I sit once more on a Friday lunchtime with the kids napping. There’s no wine to taste yet this week but I have every intention of popping out somewhere this afternoon to pick up some Malbec. This special trip would not be necessary had it not been for the fact that having despatched my husband on an urgent errand to pick up a bottle or two of a very drinkable Cahors that I tried last week, the merchant that I’d bought it from was shut.

I can only imagine this is because presumably at 4pm on a Thursday in October, there’s rather a lull in tourist trade for the Eton Bridge Wine Company, let alone that a local resident might pop by to make a purchase.

Eton, for those of you that aren’t familiar with the smaller sister town to Windsor on the banks of the river Thames, is an interesting little place where cultures collide. It is of course, the location of the infamous Eton College where the world’s elite are educated and hence the town is riddled with floppy haired youths either in their penguin suits or scruffy trainers and jeans. Because of this, they are accompanied by a vast number of tourists milling around, shuffling along at a snail’s pace whilst soaking up the stereotypical idea of a quintessential English High Street. Then lastly, there are the locals – and I know, Windsor’s supposed to be posh too, but remember, Eton is VERY close to Slough. Listen to the lyrics of The Jam’s ‘Eton Rifles’, perhaps the only reference to Slough in music, except for JLS, I think they’re from Slough…I digress….

So what am I? Well, I am certainly not an Eton schoolboy(!) and am neither posh or old (just) enough to be one of their parents…I am of course a local. I have distinct memories of Eton as an impressionable young 13 year old cycling to and from school along the High Street, not from Slough I hasten to add(that would come later in life). My parents would take my brother and I for a weekly Friday treat at the Golden Curry restaurant and new-to-the-UK-and-impossible-to-track-down Jelly Belly jelly beans were sold by Tudor Stores by the ounce.

Despite this heritage, whenever I go to Eton, I cannot help but feel like a tourist and I feel strangely compelled, in every place I enter, be it a traditional tailors, a coffee shop that also cuts hair or one of the many quaint trinket shops, to justify to the proprietor that I am most definitely a local.

This was exactly how I felt as I entered the Eton Bridge Wine Company, which although small with what I assumed wrongly, rather inflated prices for the tourists, had a pleasing selection of interesting and varied wines. Under not-ideal wine buying circumstances, with a hungry 2 year old in tow, I rather hastily selected a 2007 Chateau du Cedre Cahors to drink with my Sunday lunch. Despite the fact that the lady serving could offer no insight into the wine as she hadn’t tasted it, after dropping in the fact that I am indeed a local, satisfied, I bought a bottle and headed off to lunch.

At this point I would love to say that we popped to the delectable Gilbey’s restaurant, the owners of which have their own vineyard up in the Chilterns near Henley-on-Thames, but wisely they have a cunning anti-pushchair device i.e. a very slim front door, which I take as a subtle hint that my adorable children are more welcome elsewhere. So we headed to much more child-friendly and better-than-Pizza Express, The George, for some lunch. Of course, in the name of research, I needed to check out the wine list and with views of Windsor Castle, the tourist in me shelved thoughts of finer wine and I opted for a house red, a reasonable Marques de Calado Tempranillo which at £3.70 for 175ml was cheaper than a pint of ale.

So, back to the Cahors. Incredibly, at £11.95, this wine is being sold by Eton Bridge Wine Company for a lot less than I can find it online where I found it selling for £14.99 and £18.25 a bottle. The wine itself was well balanced with some tasty black cherry notes, smooth oakiness and a good acidity. Despite the 13.5% LBV, the alcohol and also the tannins were subtle and complimented our roast chicken and vegetables immensely.

I chose it simply because I love Malbec. ‘Malbec?’ I hear you cry! Yes, Cahors is indeed Malbec, this is one of those secrets that perhaps only wine know-it-alls are aware of and it therefore makes Cahors that much more exciting to drink than Argentinian Malbec. Since tasting the Chateau de Cedre and confirming that the price did not include a tourist tax, I now feel like I’ve found a bit of a bargain and will endeavour to get more the next time I am in Eton, plus, I will have a better look at the rest of Eton Bridge Wine Company’s stock, if they’re open of course.

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