James Lawrence suggests some extra special (and great value) corkers to accompany the Spring culinary season
As a committed optimist, I’m convinced that warmer weather is just around the corner. And as summer rapidly approaches and restaurant menus change to emphasise lighter, seasonal summer fayre, our thoughts at home also turn to BBQ’s, fish, seafood salads, asparagus and strawberries and cream – In other words, nothing too heavy or filling please!
With that in mind, I have been thinking about some suitable wines that would work with the versatile flavours we encounter in the late spring. Some ideas: if you crave BBQ’s or grilled red meats, then you”ll need equally robust, strong flavoured wines to match the food – Malbec or a good Californian Zinfandel is a BBQs best friend.
If, however, you crave nothing but lighter salads during the summer months, then keep the wine pairing simple. Vinegar in salad dressings destroys the flavour of the wine so if you want salad as a meal then we recommend dressing the salad with a little white wine or lemon juice. Sauvignon Blanc makes a nice accompaniment to salads or, if you are pushing the boat out with Salad Nicoise then drink a good Provencal rose for a real treat. A prawn salad calls out for a dry, rich white – New Zealand Chardonnay, Riesling or Sparkling is a good match.
Another important thing to consider when pairing wine with food is the sauce, often a much more important factor than the meat itself. Tomato based sauces for example will obliterate fine red wines, young fruity wines like Zinfandel are a better bet. Marinades and sauces require strong, robust wines.
Here are some top choices to get you started:
2013 Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay, Aconcagua, Chile – RRP: £15.95
Where to buy: www.etonvintners.com/
This is one of the most thrilling Chilean Chardonnays ever, at an extremely reasonable price. Top Chilean whites are now some of the best buys on the market: oak influenced but beautifully balanced, this poised, zesty white is a soft, rich and delicious wine with ripe apple, banana, toffee and citrus flavours – gorgeous!
2013 Esk Valley Riesling, Marlborough, New Zealand – RRP: £10.15
Where to buy:www.thedrinkshop.com/
Another great summer buy, although in a very different style to the wine above. Riesling finds a natural home in Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island, producing wines of considerable grace and charm. This example from Esk Valley is both aromatic and steely, a delicious Riesling full of lime cordial fruit which gives way to a lovely mineral edge and a good backbone. Irresistible at a young age, this will stand a few years cellaring.
2013 Château la Tour de l’Eveque Rosé, Provence, France – RRP: 15.95
Where to buy: www.corneyandbarrow.com
A strong contender for the best rosé I have tried this year, and not just for alfresco dining. You can enjoy this light, zesty and elegant rosé all year round. It is bursting with red summer fruits: the mouth instantly fills with raspberry, strawberry, redcurrants and liquorice. Utterly moreish, a bottle wasn’t enough!
McGuigan The Shortlist GSM, Barossa Valley, Australia – RRP: £14.99
Where to buy: www.majestic.co.uk
McGuigan’s entire range offers great value for money across the board, the GSM blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache is one of my personal favourites, a potent wine stuffed full of black fruits, with ripe blackcurrant, blackberry and mocha on the palate. Ideal with BBQ meat dishes.
McGuigan Reserve Shiraz, South Australia, Australia – RRP:£10.00
Where to buy: Sainsbury’s
McGuigan Reserve labels are always great buys, this Aussie Shiraz is “a beauty,” – a world away from the Rhone’s Syrah but every bit as welcome. Full bodied, this Shiraz has a powerful and intense nose of red berry fruit, chocolate and vanilla. Expect plum, spice, mocha and red cherry on the palate, wrapped in a gorgeous, velvety texture. Demands hard cheeses, venison and rib-eye steaks.
Taittinger Brut Prestige Rose, Champagne, France – RRP: £50.00
Where to buy: www.majestic.co.uk
It would be hard to imagine a more perfect warm-weather aperitif than this elegant, salmon pink coloured rose from Taittinger. A lighter rose style which seduces you with its soft scented strawberry, raspberry and citrus aromas and flavours. Enough said.
Wiston Estate sparkling wine, Sussex, England – RRP: £32.95
Where to buy:www.corneyandbarrow.com
A welcome recent entry into the growing firmament of top English sparkling wines, Wiston Estate is a delicious Champagne alternative. A lively mousse supports a palate of citrus, brioche and ripe apple, the ample acidity giving the wine a wonderfully refreshing quality, so in other words, ideal material for a leisurely spring picnic.