New Verse

Poems extracted from the libretto of The Lovely Ladies, a short "operatic entertainment" on the subject of wine

Hamish Robinson

Claret: a song

First among wines, I shall speak first,
        Claret long renowned;
The Old World and the New agree
My vintages deserve to be
        Garlanded and crowned.

What more ambrosial drop could fill
        Glasses for a toast?
My wines laid down one hundred years
Still live and breathe while lesser peers
        All give up the ghost.

Who drinks my best can almost taste
The living man can scarce afford
Those wines the deepest cellars hoard
        For posterity.

A miracle of mortal growth,
        Sprung from sun and soil,
I sing my names which everywhere
Mean wealth, success, exquisite fare,
        Rest from human toil:

Château Latour, Château Lafite,
        Château Haut-Brion;
Château Margaux, Château Mouton,
Château Pétrus, Château Ausone,
        Château Cheval Blanc.

Diplomacy: a song

Parties, receptions, banquets and girls,
Lunches and suppers, dinners and girls,
Honours, awards and medals and girls,
First class tickets, hotel rooms and girls.
These are the carrots we use to persuade
Unwilling partners to bargain and trade.
These are the sticks that we use to govern
The impressionable, the greedy, the righteous and the stubborn.

Château d’Yquem

Remember when you tasted first,
With nectarines, my liquid gold:
Has poor Yquem since grown so old
That she no longer whets your thirst?

With ripeness all my fruit is pursed,
But I grow sweeter for the mould.
Remember when you tasted first,
With nectarines, my liquid gold?

If from your lips you can withhold
My amber warmth, my honeyed burst
Of summers gone, then you are cursed:
The passing years have left you cold.
Remember when you tasted first,
With nectarines, my liquid gold.

Côtes du Rhône: a song

My finest northern vintages are grown
On granite hillsides cut through by the Rhône.

Drink Châteauneuf, drink Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Warm stones and sand lie where her streams have run:
My southern vines drink nightly from the sun.

Drink Gigondas, drink Cornas and Lirac.

What Gascon wines have lacked, my growths supplied:
With Hermitage Bordeaux was fortified.

Drink Côte-Rôtie, drink Hermitage, Tavel.

Twice Rome has sought me out and kept me long;
My scent is dark and sweet, my body strong.

Drink St Joseph, and Rasteau drink as well.

Mine were the wines of hermits, popes and kings,
Of fur-clad czars and cardinals with rings.

Drink Châteauneuf, drink Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"