So Cheshire’s wine column, by Richard Smith of The Wine School of Cheshire
There’s a rumour, and I stress only a rumour at this stage, that it’s going to be sunny this weekend and that means we can dust off the BBQ at last. It’s time to enjoy a glass or two of wine al fresco!
Portugal for parties!
It’s easy to assume that Vinho Verde is a white wine from Portugal. It is fact a wine region in northern Portugal that produces both red and white wines and they are generally fantastic but do vary in flavour as they are all made from different grapes.
This gem from Booths is a blend of 70% Loureiro and 30% Alvarinho – better known next door in Spain as Albarinho. Packed with citrus fruits on the nose and palate, it’s a cracking crowd pleaser, delicious on its own and even better with fish, seafood or chicken salads. What are you waiting for?!
Azevedo Loureiro-Alvarinho, Booths, £8.50. booths.co.uk
Celebrate with Chenin
For something a little fuller flavoured but still drinkable as an aperitif, this little star from South Africa’s Franschhoek Cellar is what you’re looking for. A heady mix of pineapple, peach and honey this will be divine with barbecued marinated chicken and it’ll stand up to some mild spice too. Franschhoek is an often overlooked wine region in South Africa’s Western Cape and this winemaker offers incredible value for money.
Franschhoek Cellar ‘La Cotte Mill’ Chenin Blanc, Corks Out, £9.50. corksout.com
Sunny afternoons frequently tempts everyone to go pink – if you’re going to go Rosé you need to do it well and this is an absolute treat. When Stephen Cronk gave up corporate London life to move to France with a wish to make amazing wine he absolutely nailed it! This is Mirabeau’s premium rosé and it’s totally worth the upgrade.
The pink grapefruit aromas leap out of the glass followed by wild strawberry and citrus on the palate. Sensational with meats, fish, sushi and Asian cuisine.
Mirabeau ‘Pure’ Provence Rosé, Waitrose & Partners, £14.99. waitrosecellar.com
Marvellous Malbec Bubbles
Malbec is famous as a red wine, however as a dry sparkling rosé this is sensational. Remarkably similar in flavour to some well known rosé Champagnes but a quarter of the price, it’s made in the same way, methode traditionelle, but by the Gouguenheim winery in Argentina’s Mendoza region.
Lovely red fruit aromas, it’s fantastic just as it is for summertime Friday fizz, yet it works well with a variety of savoury treats such as goats cheese and salmon but dare to be different and try it with lemon pancakes with strawberry compôte and vanilla cream!
Gouguenheim Malbec Bubbles, Tanners Wines, £11.90. tanners-wines.co.uk
Cave in to Cava
Cava fell out of fashion for a while and it’s making a great comeback – this is seriously good for its money. A recent addition to the Waitrose range, L’Atzar (Catalonian for ‘The Chance’) was made with the traditional Cava grape varieties Parellada, Xarel.lo and Macabeo and was aged in bottle for 18 months resulting in less acidity and more creaminess to the fizz.
It’s deliciously dry too, exactly as is should be.
L’Atzar Cava Reserva, Waitrose & Partners, £10.99. waitrosecellar.com
Reds rule for barbecues!
Partial to Pinot Noir?
Pinot Noir is one the world’s best known red grapes yet its flavour depends where it’s made. This outstanding example by Germany’s Gerd Stepp easily competes with Burgundy – in fact at a recent event I pitched it blind against a £45 Burgundy and it won hands down.
A lighter red it’s lovely on its own with a slight peppery finish however try this 20 minutes chilled – it really enhances the fruit flavours – and serve it with ham hock terrine. At room temperature its a treat with a meaty pizza!
Palataia Pinot Noir, Marks & Spencer, £9.00. marksandspencer.com
Add some Airs & Graces to the gathering
This Malbec from Victoria in Australia is made by the Wingara Group – still family owned by Spain’s Freixenet. It’s all cherry and plums and great value for money. This is a medium-bodied wine so very different to an Argentine Malbec but superb for summer and not too heavy to enjoy a glass or two in the afternoon with the barbecue or after lunch with a cheeseboard.
A fantastically fun wine with an equally fun name and label which is a great conversation piece.
Airs & Graces Malbec, Waitrose & Partners, £9.49. waitrosecellar.com
Tannat may have originated in France along with Malbec, but they grow more in Uruguay than the rest of the world combined! If you love a full-bodied red, this is for you! Made by Uruguay’s Pisano winery which has been in business since 1914.
There’s a touch of smokiness and lots of red fruits: blackberry, raspberry and plum. Incredible with a lamb kofta, spicy empanadas or a simple shepherd’s pie!
Pisano Cisplatino Tannat, Marks & Spencer, £10.00. marksandspencer.com
All prices quoted were accurate at time of writing. Vintage availability may vary.
Article sponsored by The Wine School of Cheshire