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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Domaines Et Chateaux - Three Rhône Wines

Three Domaines Et Chateaux Rhône Wines - available from Tesco

Rhône wines provide Old World sophistication with New World fruit ripeness - expressive yet nuanced and complex, they appeal to both head and heart.

Here are three very classy and enjoyable Rhônes from Domaines Et Chateaux, all made by family-run wineries; there is a white and two reds. They are all well-made, food-friendly and improve with a bit of aeration.

Domaine Bariol 2016, Côtes du Rhône (£9) based in Valreas, a blend of Marsanne and Viognier; floral with ripe peach, apricot and fresh citrus fruit. Waxy and substantial with toasty leesiness and good underpinnings.

Domaine L'Autrandine 2015, Côtes du Rhône Villages (£9) baked red fruits and damsons with violets, spice with some earthiness; quite big and alcoholic yet fresh with very fine tannins.

Match with roast red meat, especially lamb. 

Domaine de la Combe Dieu 2016, Rasteau (£12) GSM+C blend, blackberries, plums and violets with black pepper, liquorice, spice and cool mint. Substantial, supple and harmonious with fine tannins. Will age.


Match with a rich lamb stew, roast meats or hard yellow cheeses.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

World Malbec Day 2018

Two sophisticated and surprisingly fresh Malbecs for World Malbec Day 

It is World Malbec Day on 17th April - if you didn't already know. Malbec is Argentina's signature red grape and often makes for a boldly spicy, expressive and dark-fruited sort of a wine.

Also known as Côt, it originates from France where it is one of the Bordeaux grapes but is most associated with Cahors.

These two Malbecs have something of a European style - a freshness and deft elegance that works with food and will have you thinking more of the Old World than the New.

Both wines are also interesting for reasons beyond just the quality of what is in the bottle; neither New Zealand nor Chile are particularly associated with Malbec, so they represent something a bit off the beaten track.

Of the two, the (more expensive) Left Field is the better with a superb minerality and complexity that needs a bit of aeration to become evident.

However, the Tributo is no slouch either and demonstrates the strides Caliterra is making in moving away from some occasionally heavy-handed wines of the past towards a more sophisticated style.

Finally, both wines have a bit of age, yet are remarkably fresh and primary still, so will continue to improve for years.

Tributo Malbec 2015 (£13.30, independents) mixed berries, red plums and mocha with spice; fresh, vibrant and supple with fine tannins and a savoury finish.


Match with roast red meat or strongly-flavoured cheeses.

Left Field Malbec 2014 (£17.45, www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk, independents) blackcurrant pastilles, liquorice and oaky spice with tarriness; fresh, savoury and mineral with a supple, inky texture and very fine, rounded tannins.

Very Good and Good Value for the quality.

Match with darker game.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Easter Star Buys From The Co-op

Two Easter wines from the Co-op

These two Co-op Easter star buys are expressive, well-made and inexpensive - as well as being thoroughly enjoyable for the price.

Co-op Irresistible Marsanne (£7.99) rich and waxy yet refreshing with ripe, honeyed orchard fruits and sweet, toasty spices.

Match with seafood, roast chicken or creamy curry.

Co-op Irresistible Rioja Crianza (£6.99) expressive Rioja with bramble and black fruits, oaky vanilla spice and sweet coconut; fine tannins and balanced freshness.

Match with garlic-and-rosemary lamb.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Bordeaux and Champagne: From Vineyards Direct

A classy-yet inexpensive Bordeaux and Champagne from FVD

These two wines from FVD are both classics and relative bargains; the Champagne is from a tiny, family-owned producer whose vineyards on the Montagne de Reims are all Premier Cru.

The red is a more-affordable stable-mate of first-growth Haut-Brion.

Champagne Arlaux, Premier Cru Gande Cuvée NV (£32.95) yeasty-citrussy with toasted hazelnuts, orchard fruit toasty brioche. Fine mousse, elegant and balanced with a long nutty finish.

Good and will improve further with age.

Drink as an aperitif or match with light starters.

Clarendelle Red 2012 (£16.95) classy, classic Bordeaux with a bit of age; bramble fruits, pencil shavings and earthy-woodsiness, fine tannins and freshness. Complex, adept and very well-balanced. Drinking nicely now, this is as good a mid-range Bordeaux as you can hope to find.

Good and Good Value for the quality; will only improve with further aging.

Drink with red meat, especially darker game.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Three Spring Aromatics

Three aromatic white wines, suitable for spring

The Beast from the East may be set to growl again this weekend, but it is undeniable that the days are gettting longer and temperatures are, overall rising.

Here are three wines with just the right mix of aromatics to match with lighter foods yet the heft to be more weighty than mere garden sippers.

All are thoroughly enjoyable; the Kleine Zalze Chenin is, however, quite a revelation.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2016 (£10.15, Co-op, independents) ripe, fresh orchard fruit and galia melon; pure with long saline minerality. Elegant, substantial and deft with fresh citrus flavours and toasty richness.

Match with seafood starters or chicken dishes.

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2017 (£10.60, independents) rich, tropical honeysuckle, guava and pineapple with fresh green apple and quince. Delicious subtle oak and fresh, balancing acidity.

Good and Very Good Value.

Match with goat’s cheese or smoked fish.

Left Field Albarino 2017 (£14.55 Wine Rack, Cambridge Wine Merchants, independents) experssive and aromatic, citrussy kiwi white with melon and peach fruit and zippy lime. Fresh and mineral.

Match with Thai curries or green salads with coriander.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Les Pionniers NV Rosé - Co-op

A substantial and complex pink fizz from the Co-op

I have been impressed with the Co-op's Pionniers Champagne - in both standard NV and vintage formats.

Now, the range is extended to include a pink - perfect for Valentine's, Mother's Day or any other occasion when you want to make a statement and ensure that it be a classy one.

Key facts are: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay with up to four years on the lees in the Piper Heidsieck cellars. 

Les Pionniers NV Rosé Champagne (£21.99) a delicate pink in the glass with summer fruits and toasty, yeasty brioche; red berries, raspberries, creamy-oatmealy cashew nuts and a fine mousse; persistent and weighty with a leesy, mineral complexity.

Improves with aeration and will repay a few years' cellaring.


Drink as an aperitif or match with canapes, salmon or charcuterie.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

March Star Buys From The Co-op

Two fresh spring-like wines from the Co-op

Notwithstanding the snow on the ground, March is technically the start of spring. Here are two fresh, spring-like wines from the Co-op.

Both are thoroughly enjoyable and Good Value, so crank up the central heating and forget about the "Beast from the East".

La Petite Laurette du Midi Rosé 2017 (£7.99) Provence-style southern French rosé from Languedoc; ripe, delicate red-berry fruits with southern warmth, zingy freshness and minerality.

Good Value.

 Sip as an aperitif or with mixed antipasti.

Co-op Irresistible Chenin Blanc (£6.99) bush-vine Chenin from Darling on the cool West Coast of South Africa; aromatic, fresh green herbs, sweet spices and ripe orchard fruits. Fresh and mineral with no rough edges.

Good Value.

Drink with starters or white meats, such as roast pork with sage or monkfish in a herb broth.