“How’s a 2005 Volnay Burgundy sound? How about a vintage 1985 French sweet wine? Or perhaps a 2006 Barbera d’Asti? Or the piece de resistance, a Sandeman port that’s been in the cellars for 45 years?”
The email was pretty enticing. Not overly enlightening (for all I knew, a Barbera d’Asti could be compact hatchback, a Volnay Burgundy some kind of pancetta-wrapped oyster dish…) but from context I gathered that these were wines I should get excited about. And so I signed on for the MCR wine-tasting and cellar tour.
“Punting is a uniquely pleasant experience, so long as you remain in the boat” – Magdalen College Punting Guide, 2015
The start of Trinity term in Oxford marks the unveiling of the punts. For Magdalen, this means the dusting off of a cheerful fleet of 17 rainbow-coloured boats.
As the guide suggests, theres is something distinctively lovely about drifting down the Cherwell, past weeping willows (and occasionally weeping tourists; more than a few iPhones meeting a watery death); water lapping at the hull, and dappled light playing across your face. You see people picnicking, and even serenading their sweetheart with sweet sweet ukelele strains.