Guy’s brother Ben is somewhat of a sommelier. Each season he meticulously selects new wines for us to add to our drink offering. In this blog he talks through our summer wines, and why they made the cut. We hope you’ll enjoy them too.
For many, the idea of a good summer wine is a light, crisp, salmon pink rosé and we’ve two old favourites to choose from. Mas de Longchamp’s rosé never fails to deliver and being (in Provence rosé terms) from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, Bouches du Rhône, it is great value for money; £9 becomes £29 alarmingly quickly as you move east along the Côte d’Azur.
We also have Domaine Begude pinot rosé. Pressed immediately to give the faintest of colour, it’s a joy to drink on a sunny summers day. More manufactured rosés are often marked by sweet strawberry flavours, reminiscent of, dare I say it, Opal Fruits, or Starbursts as they are called today. With this rosé, the natural, intense wild strawberry mixed with a hint of acidic cranberry works a treat.
If rosé with bubbles is your thing, there’s never been a better time to buy our La Jara Rosato Frizzante. While Prosecco prices go through the roof, the Rosato Frizzante, enriched with a little red Raboso, can’t address itself as such because it’s not made from 100% Prosecco (Glera) grapes. Their loss is our gain however, because it’s the Raboso that lifts it to another level of food friendliness, and the fact that it also makes it cheaper is a wine win win.
Growers in Western Europe had a bad time in 2017: late, bud destroying, frosts were followed by blistering heat, resulting in pathetically low yields. So our allocation of the red Domaine Begude Pinot Noir has been drastically cut. Low yields increased the intensity so what’s lost in quantity is made up for in quality and the price is pretty much the same as last year. Slightly chilled to around 14°C, it’s a match for all manner of poultry and vegetable dishes and salads.
Sicily didn’t suffer as badly as most, and our Fedele wines really come into their own when the barbecues are lit. The Nero d’Avola has that sweet fruit edge that works with charred, caramelised meats and the Catarratto Pinot Grigio is a wine no fridge door should be without. Not surprisingly, they’ve been a big hit so, from the same winemaking team, we’re also offering the more boutique-y Santa Tresa Cerasuolo di Vittoria and Grillo Viognier.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria is Sicily’s first DOCG wine (the highest designation of quality among Italian wines) – a curious, but successful, marriage of intense, ripe, dark Nero d’Avola and light, summer fruit flavoured Frappato. Best slightly chilled, it’s good with any tomato based pasta dish or dense, oily fish like mackerel. Cerasuolo di Vittoria’s are often north of £15 so an award-winning, organic version for £11 ticks all the boxes. It certainly did with wine critic Jancis Robinson who scored the last two vintages tasted 16 and 17 out of 20.
The Grillo Viognier also got a good write-up from her. With a bouquet of tropical fruits, hints of vanilla and a palate hitting that perfect balance between ripe fruit and racy acidity, it’s hard not to like. Again, it’s fantastic value at £9.95.
Quinta Das Maias
We also have a couple more, slightly less seasonal, new listings. Both from Quinta Das Maias in the Dao uplands, central Portugal, these are serious wines, punching way above their price tag. If the Douro is the Bordeaux of Portugal, the Dao is a combination of Northern Rhone and Burgundy; far less glitzy and more down to earth – and cheaper. The whole region is a high granitic belt so the wines tend to be lean, with a mineral edge. The white is a revelation. The high altitude gives lovely acidity, and crisp, yet soft, white peach-like stone fruits dominate with a zesty finish.
The red is equally good, tasting like a wine that costs a lot more than £10.45. It’s well balanced and fruity, but with a sense of the austere granite upland soil and a long savoury finish. A blend of Jaen (known as Mencia in Spain), Touriga Nacional and a few other grapes no one has heard of, it’s great with roast meats but fresh enough to serve a little cooler in the summertime.