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Downton Abbey And Fine Wines

by Stuart George

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.

About the Author

Stuart George - Mayfair-based Arden Fine Wines was founded by Stuart George in 2019. Stuart began his wine career 24 years ago working alongside the distinguished Master of Wine and Burgundy expert Anthony Hanson. A holder of the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma in Wine and Spirits since 2000, Stuart has tasted vintages back to 1780. He was UK Young Wine Writer of the Year in 2003. He was winner of the 2019 Scuderia Ferrari Wine Award for “outstanding professional achievements" and of the 2020 Family Office Awards Wine Writer of the Year.

Visit Stuart George's Website