Sunday, 18 July 2021
Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Sunday, 11 July 2021
Saturday, 10 July 2021
I have always loved dessert wines; I can't quite say why, but I have always had a sweet tooth. Maybe it's my '70s upbringing. Or just a preference for the sweeter things in life.
But it's not mere sweetness; I also like umami (aka "savouriness") and a bit of freshness in the mix, too.
The best dessert wines walk a tightrope of sweet, fresh and savoury - with a touch of complex bitterness added in.
One region, one grape and one phenomenon dominate here: botrytised Semillon from the Bordeaux sub-region of Sauternes. Nobly-rotten grapes are expensive to produce and expensive to vinify, yet relatively inexpensive to buy due to being largely unfashionable.
Sweet wines are Bordeaux's secret wine hiding in plain sight; delicious, fresh and complex, most command nothing like the premium of their illustrious red wine counterparts.
The best sweet wines of Sauternes are a dessert in their own right and need minimal food accompaniment; a Crème brûlée or blue cheese is often the best match.
Elsewhere in South West France, Petit Manseng also makes delicious dessert wines in Jurancon: it is aromatic with high sweetness and high, natural acidity and complex candied fruit, with exotic flavours.
Domaine Cabidos, Petit Manseng Doux, Jurancon 2015 (£9.95, The Wine Society, independents)
Wednesday, 7 July 2021
Tuesday, 6 July 2021
Monday, 5 July 2021
More than halfway through the year and summer has still not yet fully arrived in the UK.
If you dream of rocking up to a friend's for a weekend afternoon of outdoor eating-and-drinking, here are three wines to take with you.
- an Italian pink fizz with style and elegance
- a sophisticated Saffer white
- a fruit-forward, crowd-pleasing, sophisticated easy-drinking Big Red to go with burgers and relish
Solpiantez Spumante Brut Rose Millesimato 2019 (£9.99)
The son of a Tuscan winemaker, Umberto grew up with vines in the blood. His 40-year career in the wine industry has seen him making wine for some of the most famous producers in Italy, as well as specialising in, and lecturing on,
Organic methods of production and, most recently, working as an international consultant to some of the most well known producers in the Veneto, Puglia and beyond. His hallmark is precision, both in terms of varietal expression and balance as well as vineyard typicity.
A blend of Trebbiano, Garganega and Sangiovese.
Delicate red-berry fruits, watermelon, citrus freshness and sea-shell minerality; very textured and linear with a precise, muscular core. Fine mousse and no rough edges.
Good and Good Value
Serve as a crisp aperitif or match with shellfish.
Wildeberg Terroir Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£16.99)
This wine is made from older vines that cling to Simonsberg in the tiny, mountainous ward of Banhoek within Stellenbosch. Dry grown vines grow thin and weedy on these vertiginous slopes, but produce an excellent crop of grapes. These are then hand-picked, crushed and fermented at the Wildeberg winery. Location, location, location. That is the magic. Difficult soils and a difficult site produce an interesting wine.
Tim Atkin gives this 91pts
Hand-picked and naturally-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, with only 2926 bottles of this vintage made. A wave of rich tropical, leafy notes on the nose sway to a broad palate of tight lime-leaf, bay and silky texture with a super-bright, naturally acid finish. Delicious with brightly-flavoured seafood dishes, Thai salads, citrus dressings or indeed by the glass on its own!
Aromatic, floral and zesty-pungent with lemongrass, grapefruit, white pepper and some quinine bitterness; full and supple with melon, stone fruit and pineapple plus zippy lemon-and-lime and sweet spices; concentrated and long with very good underpinnings.
Black Flag Winemakers Limestone Coast Shiraz Cabernet 2018 (£12.99)
This bespoke ripper is made from premium parcels of Padthaway and Limestone Coast fruit. The oak is present but far from prominent, beautiful and finely tuned ensuring the sweet red fruits, which first poke their heads up in the aromatics, carry through to the front palate and lead seamlessly into the soft, vanilla infused mid palate.
The final element of this wine is the most intriguing: it has a really strong presence yet remains inviting and warm. There are typical varietal flavours of chocolate and malt, which counters the regional hallmarks of mint and fresh herbs, and a lovely crisp tannin profile.
Lifted super-ripe, juicy plums and dark berry fruit with oaky spice, rubbed sage, sous bois and earthy-mushroominess; juicy cassis, vanilla and morello cherries; full and supple with an inky texture, and a slap of cocoa, leather and liquorice.
Match with charred meaty or veggie delights from the barbecue.