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Friday, 26 August 2016

Somm Guys (Have All The Luck)

Two wines sourced by Oscar Malek

What do somms drink? No, it's not the opening line to a joke; earlier this year, I helped sommelier and wine director Oscar Malek dispose inter alia of the last of his wine collection before a jaunt abroad.

It was a mixed bag of odds and sods - a fascinating dive, then, into someone else's tastes and preferences, all the better for coming from a top-notch source.

There were timeless classics, whether achingly trendy or horrendously unfashionable, and a couple of off-piste unicorn wines.

Two recent bottles:

Blandy's 20 year-old Terrantez, Madeira fragrant with a sherry-esque tang; complex bitter roasted spices and cigar-box aromas perfectly balanced with an unctuous fresh-sweetness. Long and substantial.

Very Good.

Match with a plate of roasted almonds and olives on a hot evening in the garden.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2013, Canada deliciously sweet overripe roasted peaches in butter with complex beeswax and roasted sweet spices. Fresh, concentrated, intense and long.

Very Good.

Match with some full-flavoured cheeses.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Picnic - with CVNE Barrel Fermented Blanco

Another sunny day, another picnic by the river.

With a free day and the kids to entertain, we headed off to Grantchester Meadows for a picnic.

I packed some fizzy squash and a bottle of white Rioja from CVNE to accompany our food.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015 (£9.80, Waitrose, Wine Rack, Tanners) Ripe, fresh orchard fruit and galia melon; pure with long saline minerality. Elegant, substantial and deft.

Sealed with a screwcap, it is a perfect picnic wine. Also match with roast chicken or pork.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Three Autumnal Wines

Three wines for autumn

The days are still warm, but as the nights turn cooler, we move on to more substantial wines.

López de Haro Blanco 2015 (£8.99 Hennings) a modern take on an old-school white Rioja; golden sandy colour with old-oak nose and ripe orchard fruits, long and fresh.

A versatile food wine. Good; very good value.

Rosa dei Masi della Venezie 2015 (£11.95, winedirect.co.uk) crisp, fresh red berries with a shake of white pepper; fresh, mineral and linear. Very adept.

Drink as an aperitif, with picnic food or goat's cheese and sun-dried tomato risotto.

Bodegas Pascual Buró 2012 (£14.50, swig.co.uk) a big-yet-fresh and refined wine with oaky spice with dark berry and black cherry fruit; fine tannins.

Good.

Match with roasted red meat.

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

A Suffolk Picnic With L'Insolite

A sunny and child-free weekend took us to the other end of East Anglia, specifically for a walk in Constable Country taking in Flatford Mill and Dedham.
Many years ago, I was taught that "the thing about Constable country is that it has more sky, odd as that may sound".

And it is true, even if the less-poetic explanation seems to be that the fields are simply larger and flatter.
Eshewing the delights of the Flatford Mill Constable Experience, after walking for a couple of hours, we opted to sit under a tree by the river for a picnic whilst boats pass by up and down the river.
Saumur Blanc « L’Insolite », Domaine des Roches-Neuves, Loire Valley, France 2014 ripe, honeyed and rich, but with a fresh appley-citrus zip; complex, with old-vine concentration. Very adept

Very Good.

Far too classy for all but the finest picnics, match with monkfish or pork.

The drive home takes us through Lavenham, with its Guildhall and "crooked houses" walk.

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Friday, 12 August 2016

Hospices de Beaujeu Morgon - From Vineyards Direct

A Beaujolais Cru via From Vineyards Direct

At its best, basic Beaujolais is a fresh-and-fruity glugger; a fresh, young red wine for easy drinking. The Beaujolais Crus offer something a little more complex but with the same cherry-fruited juiciness.

This Morgon via From Vineyards Direct is fuller and more substantial than a basic Beaujolais, but also has compelling, assertive vibrancy; it is quite a bargain, too.

Domaine Hospices de Beaujeu Morgon 2015 (£12.95) vibrant, zippy plum and black cherry fruit with sweet spice and and violets. Intense, fresh and persistent.

Good.

Drink slightly chilled as an aperitif or match with anything from mixed antipasti to lamb stew.

Despite its rather old-school name From Vineyards Direct is a relatively new outfit; set-up in 2006 by David Campbell, inventor of the Guide Hachette des Vins and holder of the Légion d’Honneur, with Esme Johnstone, former owner of Château de Sours and co-founder of Majestic Wine, it offers a small range of wines, imported directly from the growers.

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

The CWB CdP-off: Cellier des Princes

Two surprisingly fresh Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines from Cellier des Princes

I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

- The Big Lebowski (1999)

Located in the Southern Rhone, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the seat of the Papacy from 1309 to 1377; the wines, made from up to 18 grapes varieties (albeit Grenache is dominant) are traditionally packaged in distinctive, heavy dark wine bottles embossed with papal regalia and insignia.

Southerly, relatively low-lying, dried out by the mistral and with additional warmth from a surface layer of galets (round stones) that release warmth at night, CdP wines are typically big, alcoholic and substantial.

These two from Cellier des Princes are much fresher, but remain substantial. Both will match not just with traditional gamey red meats, but also white meats and cheese.

Both wines have also been awarded Gold medals.

Les Escondudes, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2013 Complex lifted red and dark berry fruit, liquorice, woodsiness, spice and freshness; supple and rounded with very fine tannins; long.

Very Good

Le Mourre, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2013 fresh red plum and cherry fruits with spices; supple, rounded tannins; beautiful aromatic length.

Very Good.

Cellier des Princes CdP at Tesco: http://www.tesco.com/wine/product/details/default.aspx?id=267280811


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Friday, 5 August 2016

Olympic Wines

Three wines to support your Olympic team

Strictly, Olympic wines should probably be from Greece. Or Brazil.

However, these three wines all come from countries competing in the Olympics, so sit back, relax and pour one of these into your glass to toast the respective nation as they appear in the opening ceremony.
France
Dourthe N°1 Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Bordeaux Blanc (£8.50; The Wine Society) aromatic citrus and blackcurrant leaf, gooseberries passion fruit aromas and rounded elegant freshness. Clean, pure and substantial.

Match with pasta and pesto, monkfish in herb broth or garlic and herb roulade.

Very good value.

Argentina
Clos de los Siete 2013, Argentina (£15; Sainsbury’s, Waitrose) Malbec blend ripe, slightly jammy bramble fruit and oaky spice, with a smooth and supple texture; balance full and harmonious.

Drinking nicely straight out of the bottle now, it will improve with aeration or bottle aging.

Good.

Match with roast lamb or other red meat.

Portugal
10 Year Old Tawny Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny (£22; Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco) figs, raisin and roasted nuts with ripe berries and eucalyptus - an elegant, timeless classic.

Good.

Match with hard cheeses or chocolate-and-cherry torte.

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