Thursday, 3 February 2011

Life's Too Short For 'Cheap' Wine!

One thing I enjoy about 'birding' as much as anything is the opportunity of sharing this stimulating and rewarding hobby with others. Since hooking up with Mark Hill, a self confessed novice (aren't we all?), we have shared a number of days in the field. Today was to be similar as long-standing friend Paramedic Adrian Baker (no relation) had asked if we could have a day birding together. A delight to be out with another 'prodigy' under mild conditions with brief periods of sunshine and little wind and what better start to his list than

Waxwing. There had been no report of the birds frequenting Winchester Close on the Dorset Bird Club web-site yesterday, but as they had been present for quite a few days now it was worth a try. c5 of them were waiting for us, and later in the day Mark texted to say there were in fact c6 - brilliant! From there we headed to Lodmoor, and approaching from the Weymouth Bay Avenue entrance immediately happened upon these 6

Collared Doves.

Further down the track we found a pair of feeding Bullfinch, the male only allowing for a shot. Around three sides of the reserve Ady showed he was no 'greenhorn', identifying many of the common birds on the way but needed a little help with a

Little Egret and Redshank which obliged by showing in the same frame. Walking the southern perimeter it appeared that

Lapwing numbers had once again increased with just

this single closing to a respectable distance.

Shelduck, common here, were also playing the game, and just for once I managed to capture the

beautiful shimmering blue on this Magpie wing.

Lesser Black-backed Gull also seemed to have increased in numbers while there were also c4 Black-tailed Godwit, a dozen Dunlin, Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, c5 Common Snipe plus at least 20 Long-tailed Tits in small foraging flocks.

At Ferrybridge we encountered this pair of Red-breasted Merganser, which tolerated us for about 10 seconds

before flying off in a cascade of water.

On the fore-shore were what was estimated to be about

300 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in company with

c166 Mediterranean Gull of various ages - I love 'em!

Before departing, and heading for home, we lingered to take in the view that is the Fleet, the Oyster Beds and Chesil Beach looking to the north east.

With a case of McGuigan's Black Label (Merlot) secured, thanks to Paul Harris, and a case of Charlie Herring (Tau Syrah), still under Jim the Medic's stair, awaiting delivery (total cost £320) I started to ponder a slightly more expensive bottle, which I hastily add never touched my lips, and the story behind it.

The Champagne Wreck
and its dramatic salvage

The two-masted schooner Jönköping was built in Sweden in 1896 with a length of 20 m, she had a 16 HP engine and could take 100 tons of cargo.

In 1916 she left the Swedish port Gävle heading for Finland, which at the time was Russian territory. German naval flag This was her 10th journey, and this kind of trade was usually profitable during the war years. But not this time. In the Baltic Sea, near Rauma off the Finnish coast she was stopped by the German submarine U22. Since the ship carried some railroad material, i.e. war materials, she was sunk, by either a dynamite charge or the submarine's deck gun. She was certainly not sunk by a torpedo, which was claimed by press articles – torpedoes were expensive, torpedoes were "overkill" on minor wooden ships, and had a torpedo been used just toothpick-like fragments would remain.


In 1997 the ship was located on 64 m depth, using side scan sonar. During the search, another wreck was also found, the Swedish
steamboat Ägir, that was sunk by the same sub on the same day in 1916. But only the Jönköping was interesting this time. Trimix divers went down and observed that the hull is perfectly preserved in one piece. Only the masts are down, and there is a small hole in the hull, from the sinking.

The reason for the wreck search was the ship's main cargo. She was loaded with 4400 bottles of 1907 Heidesieck Champagne "Goût Americain", 67 large barrels of Cognac and 17 regular barrels of wine. This was mainly intended for officers in the Russian army. Some champagne bottles were brought up. They were opened and, reportedly, tasted excellently. Apparently the corks had withstood the pressure and the dark ice-cold water served as wine cellar. The search team now hopes that also the barrels have held tight.

This is just a precis of the full story which can be found at:-

My dear friend Andy Lindsay introduced me to Stephen Williams the Director of The Antiques Wine Company (AWC) over a decade ago, and during that time the 3 of us have enjoyed some magic times together. None more so than when Stephen telephone and asked if I could collect a bottle of wine for him from the Caviar House on Piccadilly as I travelled north to visit Andy. He told me briefly about the bottle, but little did I know of the precious cargo that had been entrusted to my charge.

Unbeknown to me then, Steve had bought the complete haul of Champagne salvaged from the barge and

the following day was flying to Las Vagas to court a prospective buyer - his obvious look of pleasure stemmed from the fact that he had the bottle which had to accompany him on that journey.

At $5,000 a bottle it was precious indeed, and although he used physical force to persuade us to take a glass we felt we had to refuse - Yeah, that would be right!

Stephen tells us he has encountered Harry Enfield, both in business and pleasure and finds him even funnier around a dinner table than on TV. Here is a snippet of his work you may not have previously seen.

Stats Update

Num Perc. Country Name

drill down802376.41%United KingdomUnited Kingdom
drill down6826.50%United StatesUnited States
drill down2202.10%EstoniaEstonia
drill down1881.79%NetherlandsNetherlands
drill down1531.46%CanadaCanada
drill down1251.19%GermanyGermany
drill down1221.16%FranceFrance
drill down670.64%SwedenSweden
drill down650.62%ItalyItaly
drill down630.60%New ZealandNew Zealand
drill down530.50%JapanJapan
drill down510.49%AustraliaAustralia
drill down510.49%SpainSpain
drill down350.33%IndiaIndia
drill down330.31%DenmarkDenmark
drill down290.28%BelgiumBelgium
drill down290.28%BrazilBrazil
drill down280.27%PolandPoland
drill down250.24%IrelandIreland
drill down250.24%South AfricaSouth Africa
drill down230.22%UkraineUkraine
drill down200.19%FinlandFinland
drill down190.18%SwitzerlandSwitzerland
drill down190.18%GreeceGreece
drill down190.18%ArgentinaArgentina
drill down160.15%Czech RepublicCzech Republic
drill down160.15%BulgariaBulgaria
drill down160.15%TaiwanTaiwan
drill down140.13%VietnamVietnam
drill down130.12%HungaryHungary
drill down120.11%MadagascarMadagascar
drill down120.11%TurkeyTurkey
drill down120.11%Dominican RepublicDominican Republic
drill down120.11%NorwayNorway
drill down120.11%Russian FederationRussian Federation
drill down110.10%SerbiaSerbia
drill down90.09%PakistanPakistan
drill down90.09%MalaysiaMalaysia
drill down80.08%RomaniaRomania
drill down80.08%PeruPeru
drill down80.08%EcuadorEcuador
drill down80.08%PortugalPortugal
drill down80.08%MexicoMexico
drill down70.07%VenezuelaVenezuela
drill down70.07%AustriaAustria
drill down60.06%Sri LankaSri Lanka
drill down60.06%Korea, Republic OfKorea, Republic Of
drill down60.06%SingaporeSingapore
drill down60.06%IndonesiaIndonesia
drill down60.06%ColombiaColombia
drill down50.05%ChileChile
drill down50.05%Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia
drill down50.05%MaltaMalta
drill down40.04%CroatiaCroatia
drill down40.04%IsraelIsrael
drill down40.04%SloveniaSlovenia
drill down30.03%ThailandThailand
drill down30.03%ArmeniaArmenia
drill down30.03%EgyptEgypt
drill down30.03%Hong KongHong Kong
drill down30.03%Bosnia And HerzegovinaBosnia And Herzegovina
drill down30.03%Brunei DarussalamBrunei Darussalam
drill down30.03%GeorgiaGeorgia
drill down20.02%PhilippinesPhilippines
drill down20.02%GuadeloupeGuadeloupe
drill down20.02%Iran, Islamic Republic OfIran, Islamic Republic Of
drill down20.02%GuatemalaGuatemala
drill down20.02%NepalNepal
drill down20.02%JerseyJersey
drill down20.02%Puerto RicoPuerto Rico
drill down10.01%HondurasHonduras
drill down10.01%NamibiaNamibia
drill down10.01%MaldivesMaldives
drill down10.01%PanamaPanama
drill down10.01%GuernseyGuernsey
drill down10.01%Isle Of ManIsle Of Man
drill down10.01%CyprusCyprus
drill down10.01%AlbaniaAlbania
drill down10.01%IcelandIceland
drill down10.01%AlgeriaAlgeria
drill down10.01%Moldova, Republic OfMoldova, Republic Of
drill down10.01%MongoliaMongolia
drill down10.01%EuropeEurope
drill down10.01%BangladeshBangladesh
drill down10.01%ChinaChina
drill down10.01%LebanonLebanon
drill down10.01%Trinidad And TobagoTrinidad And Tobago
drill down10.01%United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
drill down10.01%MoroccoMorocco
drill down10.01%LuxembourgLuxembourg
drill down10.01%YemenYemen
drill down10.01%SurinameSuriname
drill down10.01%Anonymous ProxyAnonymous Proxy