In my early days in the wine trade (far too many years ago) I was responsible for “Delivery Enquiries” (= van driver).
Among the company’s clients was the 7th Earl of Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle, well-known as the fictional setting of the historical drama series Downton Abbey.
Never having seen Downton Abbey – because I have not owned a television for over 20 years – I was told that there were wine references in the programmes.
Downton Abbey’s creator and co-writer Julian Fellowes is known to be a wine enthusiast.
When interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in November 2011 he was asked – as all Desert Island Discs guests are – what would be their luxury good of choice to take with them to a desert island. Fellowes’ answer was: “Two enormous casks of Château Margaux”.
Château Margaux is featured in Episode 9 of Downton Abbey’s season 5 when Mr Carson (played by Jim Carter) offers his friend Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) some wine leftover in a decanter.
“They didn’t finish this and they are away tomorrow, so I thought we might”, he says. “It’s a favourite of mine… You won’t go far wrong with a Margaux.”
Robert Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham and owner of Downton Abbey (played by Hugh Bonneville), is recovering from ulcer surgery.
Mr Carson sneaks a decanter of Chasse-Spleen to the bed-ridden Earl, who exclaims: “Crumbs. That looks frightening.”
Carson says: “It’s, uh, a little Château Chasse-Spleen, my Lord.”
Chasse-Spleen’s name means “dispels melancholy” (in a stiff English translation) or (in a more contemporary style) “chases away the blues”.
The perfect wine for a bed-ridden (locked-down?) Earl.