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Richard Mark James' blog: wine, travel, food, BYO restaurants, craft beer, stuff like that...

24 May 2019

'Wines of the week'

This varied selection of 'wines of the week', to use the popular editorial-speak, is making an impromptu appearance here instead of the more customary 'wines of the moment', just for a change of scenery, along with a few random dishes that made a good match. Some of these wines were opened at two recommended BYO restaurants located in Ballyhackamore in groovy suburban east Belfast, known affectionately as 'Ballysnackamore': the Rajput Indian and Good Fortune Chinese, which will both be featured on this blog shortly.


Rosé

Paradis Secret 2018, Languedoc, Vignobles Foncalieu (13% abv) - Tasty southern French rosé shaped from Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Lightest shade of pink, aromatic red berry fruits, crisp yet with a little mouth-feel too. Not a bad match for smoked haddock and pasta in a spiced tomato sauce. Comes in a fancy frosted bottle with a glass stopper no less: they've pitched it at a trendy celeb Provence rosé style price-point (see below), which is a little steep me thinks although it is well made.
Griset Extraordinaire Rosé 2018 Pays d'Oc, Vignobles Foncalieu (12.5% abv) - Quirky gris de gris style rosé, meaning very pale pink and essentially tasting like a white wine, made from the rare Sauvignon Gris variety sourced from two vineyards: to the south of Béziers and between Narbonne and Carcassonne. Zingy and aromatic with ripe pink grapefruit flavours. For those Sauvignon Blanc fans who fancy a rosé but much less 'grassy' in character! Attractive all-rounder of a wine.
UK stockists/importers for Griset rosé: Albion Wine shippers (London) £8.95, Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), Yorkshire Vintners (Ripon); and Paradis Secret: Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff) £11. In Ireland, Paradis Secret rosé is €17.99 and the other €13.99: McHugh's Off-Licences (Dublin), Redmond's of Ranelagh (Dublin), Red Island Wine Co. (Skerries), Baggot Street Wines (Dublin). Also available in the US: details to follow.
  
Pinot Noir

Hans Baer Pinot Noir 2016, Weinkellerei Hechtsheim, Pfalz Germany (12.5% abv) - Fairly light and fragrant with fresh fruity finish: try with confit duck leg or calf's liver or salmon. £7 Tesco.
Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2016, Marlborough New Zealand - My memory of this big brand Pinot was 'okay', but this surprised me: either it's got better or getting an older vintage with three years' age has added an enticing smoky savoury side to its silky fruit and tannins. Winemark (NI): dear if you buy one bottle but I think you take off £5 from the total as part of a selected 'buy two...' type offer? Their website doesn't tell you as it's crap.
Palataia Pinot Noir 2017, Pfalz Germany (13.5% abv) - Consistently classy German Pinot made by Gerd Stepp, who, as I've said before, used to work for Marks & Spencer as a winemaker / buyer: lovely style, depth and balance. Some people might not usually spend over a tenner (like me), although it's £9 a bottle on their site at the moment (6-case price), and I got it on offer in store; but you'll get no or very few Pinot Noirs as good from Burgundy or the New World for the price (except perhaps Chile, e.g. Sainsbury's TTD own-label for £8 made by Errazuriz).
Te Taha 2016 Pinot Noir, Martinborough New Zealand (13.5% abv) - Another sexy M&S Pinot created by 'legendary Kiwi winemaker Larry McKenna, the father of Martinborough Pinot Noir,' as the blurb says, again bought when Marks had one of their good-deal 'third-off' offers making it a bit less than ten maybe (it might be out of stock at the moment). Obviously more of a special occasion bottle (like having dinner) with concentrated 'sweet / savoury' Pinot style, subtle oak, weight and still structured although elegant too all in one. Yum. Good with smoked paprika pork.

Other reds

Clos des Batuts 2017 Cahors, France - Nice example of a more 'modern' Malbec style from 'the home of' in south-west France, Lidl has found a good batch here showing aromatic floral yet chunky fruit and well-handled dry palate texture. About £7-£8? I don't remember exactly and as usual can't find it on Lidl's site. Just about works with lamb curry dishes.
Condado de Haza 2015 Crianza, Alejandro Fernández, Ribero del Duero (14% abv) - Very tasty maturing Spanish red from the centre-north made from the Tempranillo variety, seductively mixing up rich fruit, savoury balsamic notes and still quite structured yet melt-in-the-mouth tannins. I'm thinking aged Manchego or Comté cheese. £15-£16 Sainsbury's, JN Wine.
Pablo Old Vine Garnacha 2018, Bodegas San Alejandro, Calatayud Spain - The back label says it was produced from 'gnarly old bush vines planted up to 100 years ago in dusty dry soils at an altitude of 1000 metres.' The vineyards and winery are indeed found on the high ground 80 to 90 km south-west of Zaragoza, in the Aragón region the likely origin of the Garnacha / Grenache variety by the way. The result is a chunky fruity deep-coloured (especially for Garnacha) powerful red (14.5% abv) with spicy dark cherry and berry fruit, a bit of tannin and attractive meaty side too. Great offer for €8 at SuperValu stores, Ireland (allegedly 'half price' type deal).

Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer 2018, Alsace France (13.5% abv) - The benchmark 'affordable' Gewurz I suppose (prices have risen though in recent times), region and winery-wise (the standard-setting Turckheim co-op), this '18 combines textbook exotic lychee and rose water notes with a zesty lively palate and nice weight too (13.5% abv). Nice partner to smoked trout. £8 on offer at Sainsbury's (usually £9).
Gewurztraminer 2017/2018 (?) Alto Adige Sudtirol - Classy and elegant Gewurz, more restrained and drier perhaps coming from the relatively cool far north of Italy, very perfumed and refreshing yet with obligatory lush mouth-feel too. One of Lidl's posh one-offs at £10+ or €12+ in the Republic of Ireland? €10.99 in Germany. Unfortunately Lidl's UK and especially Ireland sites aren't much good for finding any useful info on their better wines. It has a green and silver label. By the way, their delicious Winemaker Selection Clare Valley Riesling has been reduced to a bargain £6.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Gewurztraminer 2017, Chile - Tesco stores keep knocking this out at £6, making me wonder if they're getting rid of it, so buy up some while you can? Great buy at this price for Gewurz fans with a little maturity too adding extra richer flavours and 'oily' texture, although it's drier than the French one I'd say. Delicious with king prawn biryani, and generally versatile with different curry / Chinese / Thai dishes (although not sweeter ones).

Other whites

Passerina 2018 Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo Italy (13% abv) - The back label describes Passerina as 'southern Italy's rare grape... named after the sparrow that enjoys eating them.' Not convinced the local winemakers will be great friends with said sparrow, but I'd say the Abruzzo region is more central than southern? Lively and zesty with e.g. fish and chips or garlicky prawn pasta dish, goat's cheese as well. Tesco £7.

Cava Catalan bubbly, Spain.

Rosado Brut Jaume Serra (11.5% abv) - Tesco's vividly pink and fruity rosé Cava is very versatile but matches Indian, Thai or Chinese dishes especially (see reviews of the Rajput and Good Fortune to follow soon). Or dark chocolate even. £6
Brut Nature 2014 United Wineries (11.5% abv) - One of Sainsbury's very good 'Taste the Difference' labels, this is tasty tangy floral Cava at its driest with delicate toasted almond flavours. Good on its own or with fish and chips, prawn risotto, tuna and pasta etc. £9
Arestel 2017 Vintage Extra Brut (11.5% abv) - A new posher version of Lidl's reliably drinkable Arestel NV Brut Cava, this has more class and flavour, is definitely drier with delicate yeasty nutty finish. Try with baked Camembert? Good stuff for £7.99.

Amontillado dry Sherry 'Exquisite Collection' (19.5% abv) - Packed with complex matured flavours with tangy baked nutty notes and rich but dry finish, tis 'proper' sherry like. Have a wee glass chilled with unsalted peanuts. Aldi €7.99 for 50cl.

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