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Monday 11 March 2013

Wine of the Month - March

With a name taken from the Roman god of war, March is neither quite the depths of winter nor properly spring.

Chilly, rather than frosty, it is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

February's snowdrops have given way to early-flowering daffodils and the days are noticeably longer if not especially milder.

It is no surprise, then, that this month we have all red wines - albeit not quite such hearty ones.

Aliança Bairrada Reserva, 2011, Portugal £7.25 (Noel Young Wines)

Portugal seems to have been on the cusp of greatness forever now - with unusual indigenous varieties, interesting flavours and a modernised wine industry, its has everything it needs to be the next wine region to watch.

Made from a blend of indigenous varieties (Baga, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz), this wine has black cherry fruit, black olives and bitter green herbs on the nose.

The palate shows ripe cherry fruit and firm, grippy tannins. There is a refreshing sour cherry acidity and a savouriness; the finish is firm and persistent.

Ripe and modern, it is also distinctly Portuguese - and great value; match with beef or lamb.

Chateau Plaisance, 'Grain de Folie' Rouge 2011, Fronton £9.99 (Joseph Barnes Wines)

Chateau Plaisance, based in the Cotes du Frontonnais region of of southwest France, is run organically by the father-and-son team of Louis and Marc Penavayre.

This 'Grain de Folie' ('a touch of madness') is a blend of mostly Negrette with some Gamay. An organic, low-intervention wine, it shows a blast of pure black cherry and elderberry fruit with a touch of spice.

The acidity is mouthfilling with sour-cherry sharpness and there is a gentle firmness that persists on the finish.

Match with duck or lamb.

4 Meses, Juan Gil, 2011Jumilla, £8.49 (Bacchanalia)

Made from Spain's Monastrell (aka France's Mourvedre) from old vines in Jumilla, the home of Spain's Big Reds, this wine spends four months (4 Meses) in French and American oak.

Dark purple in the glass, it is an exuberant pup with aromas of ripe bramble fruit, liquorice and oaky vanilla. Straight out of the bottle, this is a full-on, crowd-pleasing party animal.

The palate is full of ripe cassis and creamy, sweet vanilla spice - like a blackcurrant creme brulee - but underneath it, there is a soft texture, good acidity and a fulsome structure. For me the tannins are just a touch overripe and over-extracted, most noticeably on the finish, but don't let that put you off what is otherwise a great, crowd-pleasing quaffer.

Match with hearty meat dishes and stews or rustic sausages

Recommended Wine

All three wines here are very good and perhaps choice will be decided more by weather conditions than anything else, but for me the most interesting wine here is the great value Portuguese Aliança Bairrada Reserva from Noel Young.

Other related articles
Wine of the Month archive

Bacchanalia - http://www.winegod.co.uk/
Joseph Barnes Wines - http://www.josephbarneswines.com/
Noel Young Wines - http://www.nywines.co.uk/

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