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Tag Archives: wine

  • NORTHERN ITALIAN IDYLL

    Italy seduces at every level. The language, the culture, the cuisine, the landscape, the wines. Running over 700km from tip to toe, its multi-faceted, in just about every respect, captivating in its charm and beauty. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the length and breadth of this beautiful country and witness the wide diversity of traditions, food styles, climate, terrains and wines, and it’s one of my favourite places in the world.

    The wines are as diverse as the regions and the climate, from the cool of the northern Alps, to the searing heat of Sicily. Tuscany has long been a favourite holiday haunt, with its magical Castello’s, cypress trees, rolling hills, picture perfect vineyards, and olive groves. Chianti is world famous.

    But so is Barolo. Unlike France, where most people know the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy, Italy, with more grape varieties than anywhere else in the world, and a plethora of styles confuses. Names are familiar to many, but locations less so.

    So this month I’m exploring the north west of this intriguing country, and putting a little bit of background to some of the most famous wines from the region. Piedmont, is the land of one of the most prized, evocative, expensive products in the world, white truffles, with their intoxicating scent and flavour, addictive to many; it is also famous for game, mist-covered mornings, spectacular autumns, a region boasting some of the most spectacular cuisine in the country. It’s about as far north west as you can get in Italy, nestled in the foothills (Piedmont means ‘foot of mountain’) of the soaring peaks of the French Alps to the west and north, and bordering the Mediterranean coastline of Liguria, the glittering beautiful Italian Riviera.

    Chianti and Barolo are the most famous Italian wines; the former is produced from the sour cherry and lively plum flavoured Sangiovese grape in Tuscany; the latter from the deep, violet and licorice- scented Nebbiolo, which reigns supreme in Piedmont, the home of Barolo. Nebbiolo is a maverick grape, capable of creating some of the most magnificently dark and brooding wines in the world, but also sulkily turning out thin, harsh, fruitless wines in poor vintages if not treated with skilled hands and craftsmanship. Knowing the right producers is crucial.

    Conterno Fantino Barolo Vigna Del Gris 2011 is well worth the investment for a wine of concentrated, unique depth and beauty. The 2011 vintage was a forward wine, and the wines will keep for years, but this shows a perfumed, beguiling elegance, redolent of violets and rich dark fruits, ending with a spicy finish. Silky, sensuous, with endless depth and complexity. An absolute classic.

    For a lighter style Barolo, try renowned producer Ascheri Barolo 2013, softer, bright, again with an intoxicating perfume, and more gentle, but perfectly formed structure.

    But you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the red wines of Piemonte.  Barbera is the other main red grape of the region, softer, more feminine than the more muscular Nebbiolo.  For a great value, everyday drinking red try Amonte Barbera 2015 – bright, and breezy, with lively plum and cherry fruit, it’s a great midweek pasta wine, or great with a late summer weekend platter of prosciutto.

    For a bright, softer, juicier style, Dolcetto is Piemonte’s other red grape variety, cheeky, lively, more modest, and perfect for those who prefer softer, unoaked styles. Conterno Fantino Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco Bastia 2016, is just the ticket, shimmers with bright ruby colour, and seduces with its ripe, juicy, opulent plum and raspberry character, and pure fruit character. Perfect with herb-dusted chicken, and slow roasted pork belly.

    White wines are often overshadowed in this region of red wine kings, with their heady character, but don’t ignore the delightfully elegant, creamy and smooth whites from the region. Ascheri Gavi di Gavi 2016, is squeaky clean, and taut as a finely-tuned violin string.  Oozing style and elegant restraint, it’s a super-cool, nervy dry white from the Cortese grape, produced by Matteo Ascheri, a vinous master craftsman. Creamy, refreshing, and packed with bright lime, grapefruit, pithy lemon and green apple character, it shimmers with zestiness and tang. Polished. Sophisticated. Try this one with all manner of seafood, lemon-infused seabass, and creamy prawn linguine.

    At the other end of the scale, from the Alba area comes the frivolously sweet Asti Spumante, derided over the years, but a much underrated, deliciously frothy, lively fizz. Equally good, Is Moscato d”Asti, in this Case Fontanafredda Moscato D’Asti Moncucco 2016, with its light, fragrant, honeysuckle-infused style – and with only 5.5% alcohol, a great lunchtime or afternoon alfresco drink.

    If you’ve played safe with Italian wines so far, know Barolo and Chianti, but haven’t experimented further, it’s well worth the journey to discover the lesser-known gems.

    By Angela Mount

  • RIOJA

    COLUMNIST TRISTAN DARBY OFFERS A QUICK RIOJA 101

    About an hour's drive south of the northern port city of Bilbao is Spain's most famous wine region, Rioja. With around a third of production being exported it's also an important flagship for Spanish wine - especially here in the UK, rioja's largest export market.

    Rioja's wine law permits the production of white, rose and red wine, however, the vast majority of rioja produced is red, made from a blend of at least three grapes and dominated by Spain's famous tempranillo. Rioja is often aged for longer before release than other commercial wines, with the helpful idea that wines are sold to the consumer at the point drinking without the need for further 'cellaring', (though some rioja can continue to evolve for many years after release). Every bottle is then labelled according to its minimum ageing time and style. Wines labelled simply 'Rioja', are released in the first or second year after the harvest, with little or no oak ageing. The inclusion of the words 'Crianza', 'Reserva' or 'Gran Reserva' on the label indicates an incrementally longer time maturing in both barrel and cellar before release - a minimum of two years for Crianza, three for Reserva, and five years for Gran Reserva.

    There's growing interest in rioja's diversity at the moment, including white rioja, which can be oaked or unoaked and uses the same labelling terms as red, but with shorter minimum ageing requirements. White rioja is traditionally a blend of local grapes, but following a law change in 2007 wines can now include chardonnay, sauvignon and verdejo. Sierra Cantabria, Otomán 2015 is a blend of sauvignon blanc with the traditional viura and malvasia grapes and well worth checking out. Fruity and fresh with lemony citrus and stonefruit flavours and a long fine mineral finish. The wine is fermented in French oak which adds a subtle creamy vanilla flavour and a soft silky texture in the mouth. Try it with pork, chicken or grilled fish.

    Have you ever tasted rosé rioja? If not, then a graceful introduction is Ramón Bilbao, Rosado 2016, a delicious dry rosé made from garnacha (a.k.a. grenache) and a small dash of viura added in for extra freshness and fragrance. A delicate pale pink colour, it's pretty and gentle on the nose with red fruit, citrus and flowers. Light and elegant in the mouth with a gentle fruit intensity of melon and orange zest followed by a fresh and fruity finish. Splendidly sippable rosé that's worth every penny.

    For an unusual take on the crianza style of rioja I recommend Ramón Bilbao, Viñedos de Altura 2014. An equal blend of tempranillo and grenache (tempranillo usually dominates red rioja), the wine takes its name from the high-altitude vineyards where the grapes are grown. This is a vibrant and complex rioja. Intensely fruity on the nose - bursting with ripe strawberries and blackcurrants, underscored by sweet tobacco, chocolate, smoky herbs and peppery spice before finishing with a long mouth-watering spiced blackcurrant note. A distinct wine with bags of character, it'll be great with anything from lamb and beef to mature cheese and spicy Spanish stews.

  • The Team's Tasting Selection

    It's that time of the week again when the team at Great Western Wine make a selection of delectable fine wines from around the world for you to taste for FREE. Come on by the Bath shop to sample the below beauties...

     

    Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

     

    Chalmers Nero d'Avola 2013

     

     

     

     

     

    Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula 2016

     

    Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2013

     

     

     

    The Bonsai Vine GSM, d'Arenberg 2013

     

     

    Stargazer Riesling 2015

     

     

     

    Chalmers Fiano 2013

  • Music & Wine

    Columnist Tristan Darby explores the sensory world of Vinyl & Vine...

    I love the idea of introducing audiences to new wines and new experiences, so over the last few years, I've watched with increasing interest as different ways to pair wine have emerged. There's wines with books (not for me - after half a glass I doubt I'd even finish a page). Then there’s film and wine - tasting wines consumed in the film as you go (think 'Sideways' or 'James Bond'). But my favourite pairing idea combines my two greatest sensory pleasures - music and wine.

    Surely this idea isn't so far-fetched? There's an age-old cultural link between alcohol and music, and you may have read about the numerous studies into the effect that different types of music have on flavour perception. Taking this idea a step further, husband and wife team Russ and Lacey of Stylus Vinyl have created a subscription service sending out monthly boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine and a custom-commissioned artwork. It's a smart idea, and as a music and wine nut, I'm delighted to be on the pairing panel at their wine supplier, Great Western Wine.

    Sometimes we choose a wine that matches the artist's character or story, sometimes it's the album's tone or theme and occasionally - it's both.

    Take Prince's iconic album Purple Rain, for example. Prince was truly one-of-a kind. Quirky, eccentric, visionary and a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist to boot. Purple Rain was a huge commercial hit that merged styles, took risks (e.g. Prince removed the bassline on "When Does Cry") and inspired a generation. It brims from start to finish with energy, sex and soul, and is full of contrasting themes - pleasure, sadness, celebration, isolation, hope, despair, religion, sex - that all work seamlessly together to make this timeless album, which although 'of its time', sounds as fresh and relevant 33 years on.

    The perfect match is d'Arenberg's Love Grass Shiraz. Winemaker, Chester Osborn, is also one-of-a-kind and one of the wine world’s most colourful characters. He's an art-loving maverick famed for his loud shirts and larger-than-life personality, and luckily for us - he's also a brilliant winemaker who has helped to establish d'Arenberg as one of Australia's leading family-owned wineries. Their commercial success hasn't stopped Chester from pushing boundaries, and The Love Grass is one of their many brilliantly quirky wines. Shiraz is the main grape here, blended with an eclectic mix of contrasting international varieties such as Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot (Bordeaux), Tinta Cao (Portugal), Viognier (Rhone) Tempranillo (Spain), Sagrantino (Italy) and Pinot Noir (Burgundy). Quite a blend, but they work in perfect harmony to produce a big, bold red with complex layers of aroma and flavour. There are juicy black and red fruits, some peppery spice, dark chocolate, liquorice and a touch of smoky savoury herbs. Love Grass is a wonderful wine that's ready to drink now, but like Purple Rain will still be in fine shape a few years down the line.

    If you fancy trying some pairings out for yourself, join Tristan on 19th October at GWW for a Vinyl & Vine tasting. Tickets at greatwesternwine.co.uk

  • Tasting with Trimbach

    Great Western Wine recently hosted a sell-out evening with Julien Trimbach at the Allium restaurant. Angela Mount went along to report...

     

    A tasting of Trimbach wines is not a bad way to spend an evening at the best of times, but teemed with not only some rare gems from old vintages, but also the exquisite cuisine of new Allium Restaurant chef, Rupert Taylor, it became a must do event in Bath’s social calendar.

    Trimbach is one of the most revered wine producers in Alsace.  Established in 1626, and with the young and urbane Julien Trimbach, the 13th generation of the family, hosting this spectacular evening, guests, many of whom have followed and enjoyed Trimbach wines for years, were in for a treat.

    Alsace, nestled in the foothills of the Vosges mountains, forms a long, narrow strip between northern France and Germany, and has a chequered history, having changed nationality several times between the two countries over the centuries and wars.  Trimbach are based in Ribeauville, a chocolate-box pretty town, with characteristic timber-fronted houses and steep flat clay tile roofs, in the heart of the vineyard region.  Using mainly Germanic grape varieties, Alsace has created a worldwide reputation for extraordinary wines with Riesling at its heart, but in a totally unique way.

    It’s always fun to break the rules; instead of a customary glass of fizz on arrival, we were greeted with a chilled Trimbach Pinot Noir Reserve 2015, which surprised some and delighted many.  Pale ruby red in colour, fresh, bright and lively, this gentle, light red was packed with crunchy pomegranate and raspberry fruit, with a wild herb edge.  With its northern location, Alsace doesn’t produce much red wine, but the cool climate-loving Pinot Noir does perform well here, albeit producing far lighter styles than neighbouring and more southernly Burgundy.  Spot on with Chef Taylor’s irresistible canapes of tomato and smoked aubergine, sumptuous foie gras mousse spiced up with saffron and pink peppercorns, together with a tangy citrus cured morsel of salmon with ponzu jelly.

    Onto dinner; first up was a beautifully presented plate of plump, caramelised and pan-fried scallops, meltingly tender, with their luxurious, sweet texture; these were nestled on an intense creamy puree of cauliflower, and served alongside perfectly roasted and singed cauliflower florets, and a bright, tangy verjus to balance. Tom King, Great Western Wine’s Fine Wine Manager had worked closely with Chef Taylor to showcase the very best of Trimbach’s wines, and cleverly picked a grape variety, whose ripeness and more voluptuous style, would marry the indulgence and sweetness of the starter. Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2014 combined aromas of tuberoses and nutmeg, with a deliciously fresh, dry palate, with vibrant citrus to the fore, tinged with a hint of acacia honey.  This was served alongside Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personelle 2013, a masterpiece in the balance of richness and acidity, opulent and intense.

    The main event was inevitably going to be Riesling, accounting for over 50% of Trimbach’s production.  As Julien told us “Riesling is in our blood, it’s our heritage”. We were treated to a hedonistic quartet of Rieslings, with over 30 years between the youngest and oldest. Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2014 is but a baby, grown on the chalky, quartz and sandstone Gres des Vosges stone.  2014 was a fabulous vintage in Alsace and this little gem showed its promise, all nervy and fresh with candied lemon peel aromas and zippy acidity. If you have of this vintage, snuggle it up, and don’t touch till it’s at least a toddler, as it will blossom into a beautiful teenager and beyond.

    Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2008 is Trimbach’s signature wine, produced from two grand crus vineyards, with vines averaging 45 years in age. This is an extraordinary wine from a vintage which produced wines of purity and precision.  This wine, despite its 9 years, is still in its youthful, nervy thoroughbred stage.  Intense, rich, creamy and incredibly complex, it has a gorgeous richness of fruit, interwoven with grapefruit peel, Manuka honey and a smattering of citrusy sumac.

    Matching a main course that isn’t fish, to white wines isn’t always easy, but Rupert Taylor and his brigade stepped up to the mark with a fillet of Rose Veal, glisteningly pink, tender and delicate, served with a creamy sweet langoustine puree, earthily pungent girolles mushrooms and tangy choucroute. A wealth of flavours on a plate, whose different textures and balance of flavours worked seamlessly with the wine.

    Still on Riesling, wizard Tom King then waved his magic wand and brought out two wines from the cellar collection – wines that have been slumbering in the cellars for years, and are now starting to emerge from their chrysalis into rare and stunningly beautiful butterflies.  Riesling Clos Sainte Hune 2008 is Trimbach’s flagship wine, produced on limestone soils, from a single vineyard, and only in the very best of years. As Julien stated ‘if Riesling is in our blood, Sainte Hune is in our heart’. This wine is extraordinary – racy, nervy, taut as a tightly-wound violin string, bursting with a myriad flavours of marmalade, lime and those typical petrolly characteristics, all bound up with outstanding purity and minerality – if you have some, it’s another toddler to leave to develop a while longer.

    Proving the point, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Alsace, and in particular Trimbach makes wines that can last decades, Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendange Tardive 1983, a 34 year old, very rare wine, produced in tiny quantities, from botrytised grapes, which are very rare from this vineyard – the epitome of elegance, redolent of white flowers, roses, rosehips and honey; rich, intense, multi-layered, with marvellous depth – mature, but still with trademark steely acidity coursing through its veins. A rare treat.

    How to follow such a majestic wine?  Chef Taylor finished off the evening with a Peach Bavarois, wobbling in its creamy unctuousness, accompanied by a tangy, perfectly spiced Schezuan pepper and bay leaf ice cream.  Picking up on the delicate, floral notes in the dessert, our final wine was Gewurztraminer Selection des Grains Nobles ‘Hors Choix’ 2007, amber in colour and steeped with rich nectarine, honey and candied fruit flavours – exotic, decadent and supremely balanced.

    Four hundred years on, Trimbach is still proving why its iconic wines are revered all over the world.

  • The Team's Tasting Selections

    Lyme Bay Shoreline Bacchus 2016

    “My final white is much closer to home – just down the road in Dorset; English sparkling wine now stands up to Champagne in international competitions, but still wines are less well-known. I recently discovered the appropriately-named Lyme Bay Shoreline – light and pretty with a citrus tang and floral notes. Perfect for a day by the sea, or a holiday BBQ, and a mean match with take away fish and chips, watching the sun set over the water.” Angela Mount, Bath Life

    Rosé Pinot Noir, Long Meadow Ranch 2015


     

    Yealands Estate Gewurztraminer, Awatere Valley 2016

     

    2012 Thomas Goss Chardonnay

     

     

     

    Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2013, Clare Valley

    “This is made by the Palmer family, which never puts a foot wrong with its wines. A regular in my 100 Best Australian Wines Report, it’s a powerful chocolate and plum-soaked wine with enormous charm.” Matthew Jukes - The Daily Mail Weekend Magazine 100 Best Value Summer Reds, 2017

     

    2012 Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir

     

    2012 Winemakers Collection Cabernet Merlot, Crossroads

     

     

    2012 Saints Hills Sv. Roko, Croatia

  • The Team's Tasting Selection

    It's that time of the week again when the team at Great Western Wine make a selection of delectable fine wines from around the world for you to taste for FREE.

    Come on by the Bath shop to sample the below mix of award winners, 'A taste of summer' offers and recent good reviews...

    Domaine Louis Michel, Chablis 1er Cru Montmain 2014

    *Decanter GOLD

     

    Domaine Louis Michel, Chablis 1er Cru Montmain 2014

    *SWA GOLD

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    Planeta Eruzione 1614 Nerello Mascalese 2014

    *SWA GOLD

    *Decanter Bronze

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    Urlar Pinot Noir 2014

    *SWA GOLD

    *IWC Bronze

    *Decanter Bronze

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    Caggiano Fiano di Avellino 'Bechar' 2016

    *Decanter Silver

     

    Bertani, Valpolicella Classico DOC 2016

     

     

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    Château Sainte Marguerite, Cuvée Symphonie, Cru Classé 2016

    The best Provence rosé wines: "Super-pale – far more so than the standard cuvée of Ste Marguerite. Delicate but also persistent. Brilliant. Made from old-vine grenache and cinsault that dates back to 1936."
    - Victoria Moore | The Telegraph
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    Domaine de la Janasse, Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015

    This is a rich and expressive wine that has notes of elderberry, honeysuckle and lime all in evidence. The finish is creamy and textured, nicely topped off with a dash of pear compote. It’s a well-judged and unforced style. 90/100 - Decanter Magazine | August 2017

  • Stylus Vinyl

    May: What's in the box?

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have nailed it once again.

    For the May edition, Stylus have hit the summer switch with New Order’s Power Corruption and Lies. Breaking away from their Joy Division roots, New Order made a real statement with this album, marrying the rockier elements of their past to a more electro-synth style to create this timeless classic.

    We’ve paired this masterpiece with a wine that also makes a real statement. The Mas Amor Rosado made by Franck Massard packs a real punch. Bolder in colour and flavour than many trendy pale rosés, its richer character is a winner with food. The album's cover of roses is a fitting match to the name of the wine: Mas Amor (meaning more love) as well as both wine label and album cover being derived from pieces of graffiti.

  • SUMMER LIFE THROUGH ROSÉ-TINTED GLASSES

    Chilled pretty pink wine is a summer staple according to Angela Mount. Here are a few of her favourite suggestions...

     

    There are things in life that evoke a strong sense of place and season; for Summer, near the top of the list must be the salty, ozone-fresh tang of the sea, the soothing sound of waves lapping a sun-drenched beach, the incessant chirping of crickets on a warm Mediterranean evening, the exhilarating, cooling splash of a clean dive into a glitteringly azure pool – the list goes on. We’ll ignore the smell of diesel and hot tarmac on the M5 to Cornwall for the purposes of this piece. Memories, perceptions, associations – all buried for eternity in our brains and senses.  And for me, and many, the sight of a chilled glass of tremulously pale pink wine, with tiny beads of condensation shimmering down the sides – and of course the aroma and taste, as you take that first, welcome sip - immediately conjures up the thought of holidays and downtime.

    Is the scene now set in your mind?  Regardless of where you’re reading this, and even if our lovely city is downcast beneath leaden skies, in a familiar deluge of rain, let me transport you to sunshine and relaxation for just a few minutes, and encourage you to pick up a few bottles of wine, of the pink variety, to enjoy this evening, whatever our maverick weather pattern may throw at us.  We wine writers harp on about how rosé isn’t just for Summer, and I’m one of them (I happen to think that Rosé is about as good as it gets with Middle Eastern food, and also a great deal of Asian food, all year round) – but, you can’t get away from the fact, that it always seems to taste just that bit better in the sunshine.

    Enough of mindfulness exercises, now that I’ve hopefully transported you to a happy place, here’s what will be chilling in my fridge, of the pink vinous variety, this Summer….

    Whilst there are some fabulous rose wines from the New World, I’m sticking to a European theme this month. Firstly, let’s talk about the contentious subject of which shade of pink.  Rose wine has been done no favours by the presence of lurid, neon-pink hued, cloyingly sweet wines from big brands, which dominate supermarket shelves – and therefore the perception is that, the deeper the colour, the sweeter the wine. That’s not strictly true, as the colour is all down to how long the winemaker leaves the grape juice on the grape skins to soak up the colour. But the style ‘du jour’ is definitely pale, driven primarily, by the recent phenomenal success of ‘Riviera Rosé’, more properly known as Cotes de Provence. Last year, in the UK, we drank over 12 million cases of pretty pink wines, with Provence Rosé at the top of the pile.

    Chateau Gassier ‘Le Pas du Moine’ Cotes de Provence 2016, is the wine that transports me back to the lavender fields, sleepy villages, and chic beach restaurants of Provence, although Great Western Wine have an enviably wide selection of other options also.  With its ethereal pale peach colour, and entrancingly gentle flavours of wild strawberries, pomegranates, and wild provencal herbs, this award-winning wine from a family-run estate, pretty much sums up Summer in a bottle; and even more so in an impressive magnum ( big bottle) for £29.50, which can’t fail to impress guests and imbue the feel-good factor. Simply add tuna nicoise, and you have the Riviera on your doorstep.

    Staying with the ethereally pale, onion-skin theme, one of my long-standing favourites is a delicately- scented pink from Sicily, Planeta Rose 2016, from the island’s leading wine producer. Gossamer-pale in hue, with a pretty floral label, it epitomises the perfect Summer aperitif. The colour and lightness of this wine belies its origin and proves that, with care, the hot, southern Mediterranean isn’t all about rich, voluptuous reds. Fresh, fragrant, with pink grapefruit, lemon peel, and gentle red berry flavours, chill it right down and enjoy with a platter of antipasti, or the freshest of seafood. It’s my go-to picnic pink.

    Moving on to Spain, I recently discovered the deliciously fruity Sierra Cantabria Rioja Rosado 2016. Bone dry, and seductively perfumed, it has a similarly pale colour, but a bit more oomph and weight than many. I recently had the enviable task of matching wines to the delicately spiced and fragrant dishes created by local Iranian cookery school teacher Simi Rezzai-Ghassemi, and this emerged the star. The bright, raspberry and wild herb-stashed, super-fresh style makes it a brilliant food wine with juicy prawns, grilled salmon, middle-eastern dishes, and tapas.

    And finally, to prove my point about colour, a dry rose with a much bolder pink colour, and an equally bold, funky, graffiti-inspired label.  The appropriately named Mas Amor Rosado 2016 (meaning more love), is bright and breezy, packed to the brim with succulent raspberry and all manner of red berry fruits. Bursting with character, this one’s the pink of choice for barbecues, chargrilled prawns and piri-piri chicken.

    And there you have it - your Summer Rose collection has arrived. Enjoy.

  • SOUTHERN ITALY

    Tristan explores the ancient indigenous sun-kissed vines of Southern Italy

    Whether you’re heading there on holiday, or just looking for some great alternative summer wines to add to your shopping list, this month’s column explores a few of southern Italy’s ancient indigenous grape varieties.

    Fiano has been cultivated in southern Italy for two thousand years. Volcanic slopes surrounding Naples in Italy’s Campania region are the grapes traditional home, producing one of Italy’s great white wines, Fiano di Avellino, but Fiano does well in other regions, too. Mandra Rossa Fiano 2016 from Menfi in south-west Sicily is one of my top tips for a reasonably priced summer white wine.

    At the risk of sounding like a wine toff, this really does taste like Sicilian sunshine in a glass. A refreshing well-balanced medium-bodied white, where ripe exotic tropical fruit flavours are tempered by a refreshing lick of basil-like herbs and an edge of citrus to make your mouth water. Deliciously drinkable and good with all manner of simple summery fish, vegetable, pasta or chicken dishes.

    Indigenous to eastern Sicily, Carricante has been grown the slopes of Mount Etna, for over a thousand years. Etna is Italy's largest and most active volcano, and the Planeta 'Eruzione 1614' Carricante 2015 is named after her longest eruption in 1614 which lasted over 10 years. Made from vines planted at 800m on Etna (Carricante performs best at altitude) by Planeta, one of Sicily's most respected and pioneering winemaking families, this is a remarkably fine, stylish, fresh and elegant wine.

    Pretty floral aromas pull you in for a mouth-watering sip where the intense sensation of minerals marries with crisp green apple and lightly honeyed citrus flavours, carrying the wine to a satisfyingly long, fresh and dry finish. Utterly delicious. I could happily enjoy a glass of this on its own in the heat of summer, but it'd also be great with grilled white fish, seafood risotto, crab linguine or pan fried scallops.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find a better value Italian red than Biferno Rosso Riserva DOC Palladino 2012. The wine comes from Southern Italy’s second smallest region, Molise, on the other side of the ‘leg’ from Naples, nestled between neighbouring Abruzzo and Puglia and flanked by the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea. Molise is rustic, agricultural, and relatively ‘undiscovered’ in terms of both tourism and wine - meaning there’s great value to be found here.

    Made from Montepulciano, one of southern Italy’s superstar grapes, blended with the ancient dark Aglianico grape for extra depth and richness, the wine ages for three years in big old Slavonian oak barrels to soften it and add complexity. Full of slightly dusty rustic charm, with mouth-watering sour cherry flavours, a hint of spice and refreshing savoury herbs. Smooth, quenching and interesting enough to enjoy on its own, but with enough boldness to pair with grilled meats, pizza, and hearty meat or aubergine based pasta. A fantastic staple wine to stock up on, and well worth the money.

    Discover more at Tristan’s Southern Italy & Islands tasting on 12th July at Great Western Wine. Tickets are £15. Click here to book now >

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