Sunday, 27 June 2021
Friday, 25 June 2021
Summer has taken a long time arriving in the UK. But at some point, we will want to meet up again with others in the fresh air and do summery stuff.
Summer drinking is all about freshness - wines that refresh and cut through barbecue foods, such as hot dogs and burgers or quiches and chicken drumsticks. Wines that are easy to drink, that you can sip in a deck chair.
Here are three refreshing summery wines from Tesco that don't have to be consumed at a garden party - but it helps.
The Loire is a great source of inexpensive lively wines with great freshness; a pink fizz from other parts of France could cost a lot more than this.
Spanish Albariño from Rias Baixas is the next step on from kiwi Sauvignon Blanc; grown in Spain's cool, damp north west, it has all the same aromatic zingy freshness.
Beaujolais is technically part of Burgundy, but grows different grapes on different soils right in the south; juicy, easy-drinking dark-berry fruits are the hallmark of Beaujolais which makes it a great wine for food.
Gratien & Meyer Crémant De Loire Rosé NV - £12
Monday, 21 June 2021
Crisp White and Big Red is a classic wine pairing for food; white for aperitif and starters, red with meaty main.
In the northern hemisphere, you might look to Chablis or unoaked white Burgundy alongside Bordeaux or Rioja.
Most major European wine-producing countries have food-friendly whites as well as complex reds, so the possibilities are almost endless.
If you want to take the same approach with Antipodean wines, New Zealand Sauvignon has to be on the list of crisp, zingy whites. For reds, Western Australia produces elegant, restrained, food-friendly reds and is one of the few places in the world that suits varietal Cab.
For, despite being the great international red grape, Cabernet Sauvignon most often needs blending to round out its "tannic doughnut", that is a lack of tannins on the mid-palate.
Coonawarra and Western Australia have found that they hvae just the right conditions to avoid this and to be able to produce pure, varietal Cab.
New Zealand's Villa Maria is one the country's most awarded wineries, producing enjoyable, well-made and inexpensive wines year in, year out.
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2019 (£12, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Majestic, Co-op)
Aromatic and lifted with gooseberry, lime, grapefruit, musky rubbed sage and white pepper; ripe stone fruits, pineapple, melon and passionfruit with fresh, green apple acidity, honeysuckle, sweet spices and fresh-cut grass; full, supple and and adept.
Drinks well on first pouring and opens up further with some air.
Serve as an aperitif or match with meaty meat with herbs, such as cod in a herb broth or pork and parsley terrine.
Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (£14.99 - £17.99, Specialist Cellars, Aus Wines Online, windirect.co.uk)
Bramble and dark berry fruits with spice and damp earth; black fruits, black cherries and complex, toasty spices with grilled fruits, dried herbs and iodine. Full and supple with rounded, well-integrated tannins and lots of fresh acidity; very harmonious and adept.
Shows lots of primary fruit on first opening and becomes more savoury with extended aeration.
Drink with grilled meats such as barbecue foods; decanted for several hours, it will match with plain roast red meats.
From the Vasse Felix website:Cabernet Sauvignon has a strong heritage at Vasse Felix, being one of the first red wines made at the estate and Margaret River’s first Cabernet.
Sunday, 20 June 2021
Saturday, 19 June 2021
Jean León, based in Penedès, with Mireia Torres and Lucas GailhacJean León's back-story is that he emigrated from Spain to the USA in the 1940s, set up Hollywood’s La Scala restaurant with James Dean and returned to Spain in 1961 to make world-class wines from international varieties; in 1995, in failing health, he sold his estate to Miguel Torres to continue his legacy.
Picaresque details from his life include his real name of Ángel Ceferino Carrión Madrazo, a house fire that took the family from Santander to Barcelona, multiple attempts to stow away to the US from Le Havre, working as a New York taxi driver then starting his career as a restaurateur on the West Coast working for Frank Sinatra and going on to serve five Presidents of the USA.
A visionary with both huge ambitions and the relentless work ethic to back it up, he personifies the American Dream of the 1950s.
His winery is boutique, just 39ha are used for his single-vineyard wines, and is based in Penedès surrounded by mountains at an altitude of 300m.
Penedès is a warm-climate area and this is evident in the wines; they are big and ripe, yet with a balancing freshness.
All the wines are named after milestones in Jean León's life:
- Gigi is his daughter who still runs La Scala restaurant in Beverly Hills
- Vinya Palau pays tribute to Santander, his hometown
- It was from Le Havre that he set sail to America
Vinya Gigi Chardonnay Single Vineyard, 2017
His charisma and discretion made Jean Leon a confidant to the stars, who embraced him as one of their own and trusted him with their unusual stories. Years later, when he had his own family, Jean Leon produced this organic wine in their honor.
One of Spain’s Chardonnay pioneers, Vinya Gigi was the first to undergo barrel fermentation. The wine originates in a small, exceptional 5-hectare vineyard planted in 1967. Jean Leon named the vineyard – and the wine it produces – after his daughter.
50% barrel-fermented with some lees aging and stirring, plus partial malo; aromatic and floral, with ripe pineapple and peach, some quince and honey, sweet spices and Mediterranean flowers. Intense, persistent and fresh, with a long, elegant mid-palate and a balanced, lush finish.
Match with meaty white fish in a creamy sauce, poultry or other white meat.
Vinya Palau Merlot Single Vineyard, 2015
From stowaway and New York cab driver to one of Hollywood’s most successful restaurant owners and founder of his own namesake winery: Jean Leon’s life is the timeless tale of the American dream. Vinya Palau remembers Jean Leon’s origins and pays tribute to his hometown, Santander, the starting point for a life marked by extraordinary success.
This organic, limited-production varietal wine originates from the Vinya Palau vineyard. The small 10-hectare lot is home to Merlot vines planted in 1991.
12 months' aging in barrel, 40% new oak; plums, ripe dark fruit; licorice, toastiness and balsamics with spices and garrigue herbs; warm, dusty earthiness and dark chocolate shavings with good acidity; fresh and sweetly-fruited with fine-grained tannins
Match with barbecue meats or game such as duck.
Vinya Le Havre Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Single Vineyard, 2015
Match with game, such as venison or boar, or aged cheese.
Sunday, 13 June 2021
Jansz Tasmania Premium Rosé (£18.99, Slurp Frazier’s Wines, Noble Green Wines, Liquorice Wines, www.winedirect.co.uk)
Cool-climate traditional method (aka Methode Tasmanoise) Tasmanian fizz from the very best Tasmanian vineyards, Australia’s home of premium sparkling wine.
The cool latitude and maritime climate are a major contributory factor to the success of these wines. The fruit is grown on specially selected sites, handpicked and crafted as individual batches resulting in a stylish and complex wine.
Very pale salmon pink, yeasty-brioche biscuit nose, delicate redcurrants, soft red fruit and orchard fruits, creamy-oatmealy brazil nut and saline minerality; vibrant, fresh, elegant and persistent.
Very Good - and better value than an equivalent Champagne.
Drink as an aperitif; match with prawns, salmon, ham or picnic foods..
Hill-Smith Eden Valley Chardonnay 2019 (£11.99, Waitrose)
The rugged, undulating high country of Eden Valley is one of Australia’s premier cool climate wine regions and home to some of the Hill-Smith family’s favourite vineyards where plantings of special Burgundian clones have now come of age for this blend.
The finer flavours, produced by these clones, combined with the use of natural ‘wild yeast’ fermentation and careful crafting results in a more complex and elegant wine with rich creamy flavour and acidity.
The wine has extended lees aging and some new oak
Pale straw with green tints, fragrant aromas of fresh stone fruit, quince and citrus zest with oaky spice minerality; fresh peach and citrus curd with grapefruit acidity, savoury leesiness and a fine creamy texture. Deft, elegant and complex.
Drinking nicely now and will improve further with some cellaring.
Good and Good Value for the quality.
A versatile food wine, match with anything from fish and white meats to salmon fillet with Asian greens or chickpea falafel.
Dalrymple Pinot Noir 2019 (£32.99, Vinvm Flagship Wines)
Cooler than mainland Australia, Tasmania specialises in styles usually found towards the north of France. This Pinot Noir is a blend of different parcels of fruit, from vineyards across the Pipers River region in the northern part of Tasmania.
An easterly aspect, red basalt soils, natural flora and cool sea breezes combine to encourage slow and even ripening of the grapes allowing their natural flavours to shine through.
Dark, deep garnet-purple; intense blackberry, dark cherry and ripe plum with charred spices, dried herbs and liquorice; juicy plum and dark fruits with blue fruits and five spice; fine yet firm tannins; fresh, supple and elegant.
Drinks nicely on first opening, opens up with some aeration and will repay some cellaring.
A versatile food wine, match with game, spiced foods and cured meats.
Friday, 11 June 2021
Two widely-available New World reds
Carignan and Pinot Noir both produce soft, silky wines with a delicate, supple texture.
The main difference is that Pinot is expensive to make and always carries a price premium, due to the reputation of Burgundy; by contrast, Carignan is a "wine lake" grape, historically producing high yields in hot parts of France with no classic heritage.
If you have heard of Pinot but not of Carignan, this is possibly why; it's the darling vs the ugly duckling.
Another reason is that Carignan is typically a blending wine; late-ripening and heat-loving, it provides colour, acidity and tannins but can prove difficult to make into an elegant varietal wine.
Both these wine are relative bargains, then and punch above their price tag; New Zealand makes some of the best Pinots outside Burgundy for a fraction of the price. And Carignan has the soft texture of Pinot but without the premium.
They are both drinking nicely now, but have the concentration and complexity to improve with some age.
Indomita Gran Reserva Carignan, Chile, 2019 (£7.50, Co-op)
Chile has been getting better and better for a decade or so and is finally starting to reach its potential now.
Lifted red and black fruits with florality and oaky, peppery spice, garrigue herbs, cocoa and savouriness; fresh, full and supple with a dense inky texture; very harmonious and well-made.
Good and Good Value.
Drinks nicely on first opening but can be cellared.
Match with roast red meat or barbecue foods.
Tesco Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir, 2020 (Tesco, £13)
Made by Villa Maria, New Zealand's most awarded winery and always a source of highly enjoyable, well-made, good-value wines.
Farmyardy sous-bois and complex spices; lifted dark berry fruits, black cherries and black olives with some toasty savouriness; fresh, supple, concentrated and long.
Drinks nicely on first opening, but will improve further with some aging.
A fresh, versatile red, match with rich, strongly-flavoured foods, from lamb to salmon steak, venison to guinea fowl, pâté to charcuterie.
Thursday, 10 June 2021
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Creating labels/packaging for your wine that says BUY ME
Sunday, 6 June 2021
Sommelier and all-round charismatic bon viveur Donald Edwards informs me that Soave is grown on volcanic soils, which add to the elegance, precision and linear minerality of the wine.
Soave is Italy's answer to basic white Burgundy; a neutral, medium-bodied, orchard-fruited, lemony white wine with the versatility to accompany a wide range of foods.
Soave was once a best-seller of Italian wines; now eclipsed by the ubiquitous pub white Pinot Grigio, it is making something of a comeback.
Put another way, now is a good time to buy Soave, since quality is ahead of general recognition and therefore pricing.
Tesco Finest Soave Classico Superiore (£7.50, Tesco)
Saturday, 5 June 2021
Southern Rhônes - Fontbonau and Tesco *Finest
If you like wines with the spice and fruit of a warm climate, yet also the classic substance and structure of the Old World while avoiding the heavy-hitting price tag of a Big Name Region, then the Southern Rhône pretty much ticks all boxes.
The Southern Rhône is a large and diverse wine-producing area, producing wines of all colours; wine-making here dates back 2,000 years and there are over 5,000 winemakers and merchants.
The valley has had a turbulent geological past, as is typical for riverscapes, creating steep slopes, rolling hillsides and a huge variety of different soil types. It is theses different soils, aspects and slopes that bring variety and interest to the wines of the region. The southerly climate with high levels of sunshine brings ripeness, body and darker fruit flavours.
In quality terms, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages is a step up the classification ladder from the catch-all Côtes-du-Rhône, but sits below more-specific appellations such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Vacqueyras.
Southern Rhône reds are usually a blend of Grenache for vibrancy with Syrah for colour / tannins and dark fruit / spice as well as Mourvèdre which likes the heat and provides flavours of wild game, earthiness and red fruits.Tesco Finest Cotes Du Rhone Villages, 2020 (Tesco, £7)