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Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Easter Wines from Virgin Wines - The Old World

Five Old World Wines from Virgin Wines for Easter

In (overly) simple terms, the New World means plenty of ripe fruit, while the Old World does nuanced, complex, food-friendly savouriness.

Over time, of course, the New World has started seeking out cooler sites and making fresher wines with a gentler hand.

And some parts of geographically Old World Europe are warm and sunny enough to make crowd-pleasing "sunshine in a glass" wines with plenty of easy-drinking ripeness.

So, clear distinctions are not always easy to make, but do help with a broad understanding.

These five wines from Virgin are all Old World in the sense of being from cooler parts of the European continent with an emphasis on texture and structure as much as on fruit.

They are also largely from classic regions, meaning they cost a few pennies for the prestige of the name and are of an instantly recognisable style.

All these wines have aging potential and, if you do drink them young, will benefit from significant aeration to show their best - think several hours in the decanter for the still wines.

Match to classic foods, generally from the region of the wine itself - think scallops with pea puree, roast fowl or game, a cheese plate or beef bourguinon.

They are all very well-made and flawless examples of their style.

Sophisticated fizz to start

Henners Foxearle English Sparkling Brut 2016 (£39.99)

Handmade by a three-person team, this unique offering showcases the best grapes from the 2016 vintage. A fresh, lively and elegant sparkling wine with vibrant acidity. Packed full of flavours like toasted, buttered brioche, accompanied by slices of fresh red apple and lemon nougat.

ABV: 12.5% Region: Sussex, England Grape Type: Champagne Blend

orchard fruits, citrus, florality and nutty brioche; fresh, poised and linear with crisp green apple, citrus and conference pear, brazil nut, creamy oatmeal and toasty brioche; broad, savoury and complex.

Slightly shy on first opening, it opens up with aeration and can be aged further.

Very Good.

Serve as an aperitif; match with seafood starters or salmon wellington.

The Complex White

Pouilly Fuisse Domain Damien Martin 2020 (£22.99) 

Sustainable vineyard management, is used by Damien Martin (young winemaker of the year 2020) to gently nurture the 25-year-old vines to develop a beautifully balanced wine with apricot and pear flavours entwined with delicate oak and cream notes.

ABV: 13% Region: Burgundy - Maconnais, France Grape Type: Chardonnay 

complex, opulent dried yellow stone fruits, honeysuckle, beeswax and citrus; fresh, savoury and complex with citrus, dried pineapple, lime marmalade, sweet spices, creamy brazil nut, oatmeal richness and toasty spice; broad, long and saline.

Improves significantly with aeration, so don't be afraid to decant for a couple of hours; will repay some cellaring.

Very Good+.

Match with plain roast white meats, savoury mushroom-and-cream dishes or hard cheeses.

The Reds

Beaujolais Villages Lantignie Alexandre Burgaud 2018 (£13.99) 

Alex Burgaud is a producer to watch. His exemplary Beaujolais Lantignié is as good as any fine Fleurie! Expect lifted aromas of red berries and violets and, on the palate, mouth coating red fruits with mineral freshness and soft, supple tannins.

ABV: 14% Region: Burgundy – Beaujolais, France Grape Type: Gamay

fresh dark berry fruits, raspberry leaf and violets; fresh, juicy cassis, bramble fruits, minty eucalyptus and spice with a supple texture.

slightly grippy on first opening, the tannins become more rounded and harmonious with aeration; can be cellared.

Also drinks nicely chilled, like a fresh blackcurrant sorbet.

Very Good.

Match with herby sausages, salamis or pastrami.

Le Vendangeoir Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil 2020 (£11.99) 

Mature 40-year-old Cabernet Franc vines give this wine a very special concentration, with notes of racy red fruit and hints of graphite on the nose with a good acid backbone which enables it to maintain its pure fruity crunch.

ABV: 12.5% Region: Loire, France Grape Type: Cabernet Franc 

red berry fruits, red and black cherries with spice and raspberry leaf; fresh, juicy summer-berry fruits with mint leaves and graphite; supple and concentrated with rounded tannins and a savoury mineral backbone

Good; improves with aeration and can be cellared.

Match with herby sausages or roasted meats, such as lamb with rosemary or pork with sage.

Dominio de Laertes Rioja DOCa 2019 (£12.99) 

Made from old vines (55 years old), this wine is made from a family that have dedicated several generations to the cultivation of their vineyards. It is very aromatic with wild blueberries, and very bright on the palate with a long finish.

ABV: 14.5% Region: Rioja, Spain Grape Type: Graciano, Tempranillo and Garnacha 

dark fruits, complex old leather, oaky spice and florality; full and supple with savoury, grilled black fruits, black olives and roasted bitter spices; dense, inky and concentrated with firm yet perfectly ripe, rounded tannins.

Improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.


Match with char-grilled red meats and peppered rare roast beef.

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