When I began this occasional column, I had outlined a programme for myself which looked to cover some of the more common enquiries relating to wine consumption and also some free spots which would be made available to any topical wine matters that may crop up from time to time. No-one would have convinced me that one such urgent matter would be the combination of James Bond and the wine real-estate centre of the world – Bordeaux.

A chance call from one of our customers, the owner of a Delicatessen and Bistro in Norfolk, had me veering off my chosen course this week. “Have you seen the new Bond film with Daniel Craig?” he began, “Yes” I replied, “Do you stock that new stuff he drinks?” Probably, I thought, we do have some Dom Perignon and Bollinger in our cellar, but what’s new about Dom Perignon or Bollinger? Various Bond’s have been drinking it for years. “No, the new stuff.” he repeated. Without paraphrasing the entire basis of ignorance underpinning the ensuing conversation and almost slipping into a coma on an otherwise busy day, I said what I normally do at times like these when I don’t know the answer. “Leave it with me; we’ll come up with something”.

My first port of call was to delve into the heady world of cocktails to which my colleague had been referring. Now wine merchants can get very sniffy about cocktails believing, like me, that they are not very grown-up drinks and that the sooner we manage to get the younger generation started on fine Burgundy or Cloudy Bay Sauvignon the more civilised the world will become.

The Bond franchise had obviously picked a new actor who now drives a brand new car, but they had also provided him with a new drink. The old days gave us the catch phrase “Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred.” Highly pretentious I always thought, but suited the man never the less. Why such simplistic vermouth such as a Martini could be bruised by stirring escapes me frankly, but I am sure I will be inundated with outraged fans confirming the difference.

Now vermouth, in strict terms, is a herb-flavoured fortified wine. In order to preserve wine in pottery amphorae and transport it around their Empire, the Greeks and later the Romans fortified their base wines with distilled grape spirit . To this was added some additional herbs and sugars to offset what must have tasted more like a balsamic vinegar after a hot day ransacking and pillaging the shores of the Mediterranean. Later around the 16th Century flavoured wines became increasingly popular, accompanied by vague promises that they had some medicinal value. A specific botanical wine built in Bavaria at the turn of the 16th Century was flavoured with  an herbaceous perennial plant, wormwood, known in German as Wermouth and later known in European Royal circles as Vermutwein. This was finally anglicised to Vermouth, although still referred to by Samuel Pepys in his diaries as wormwood wine.

Later, vast production centred in Northern Italy creating those household names Cinzano, Martini and Punt-e-Mes, at the turn of the century in France, a commonplace  Vermouth known as Noilly Prat.

Vermouth as a cocktail ingredient graced French hotels and royal circles thereafter. Our late Queen Mother was never without access to her Gin and It (i.e. Italian) and the exiled Duchess of Windsor made it the most popular of Parisian tipples.

But quietly, in the heart of the fine wine growing region 30km South of Bordeaux in the heart of the Graves vineyards, the Queen of all Vermouths was creating its modest masterpiece – Lillet (pronounced lee-lay). With 85% white wine grapes from around the village of Podensac and the remainder made of 15% fruit liquors enhanced with a range of secret ingredients, sweet oranges from southern Spain, bitter tangerines from Haiti, green oranges from Tunisia and Cinchona bark (Quinine) from Peru, Lillet began its inexorable rise to today’s stardom.

So there you have it, Bordeaux meets Bond and yes we did get some from the beleaguered wine maker at Lillet who has been inundated with orders since the DVD of Casino Royale has been released worldwide.  With 3 parts good Gin and 1 part Vodka, add half a measure of Lillet and we give you 007’s new cocktail – the Vesper.

At our office tasting it was agreed, it is a very grown-up drink.