Buy Richard Mark James' book about the Roussillon wine region on Amazon UK in colour paperback and eBook or black & white version, and Amazon US: colour paperback and eBook or black & white. Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover or eBook. For other countries, tap on the cover image below.

24 February 2021

Zeitgeisty wines

Zeitgeisty is admittedly a little literary and pretentious, and I wasn't aware it was a word as such, in the adjective form with a 'y' ending, until I saw it recently in a one-line review on the back cover of a new book (quoting a well-known writer so it must be okay). Any road, this latest batch of wine buy tips kicks off with a handful of tasty drops of bubbly, which always has a certain 'spirit of the times' feel about it on any occasion and any time of year, especially to toast in winter drawing to a close sooner rather than later.

From https://www.facebook.com/vinoltrepo

LombardyItaly
Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero Metodo Classico Brut - I didn't make a note of the producer, or whether it was vintage or non-vintage, of this delightful bottle bought in a supermarket in Sicily several months ago. Nevertheless, it serves as a great 'generic' example of one of Italy's best 'traditional method' sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir in the north. Classy bubbles with rich toasty brioche notes, maturing savoury sourdough flavours and fresh acidity still running through the lively finish.
Photo above from the Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese's Facebook page (hover over image).

Catalunya, Spain
Mas Miralda Cava Rosado Vintage 2017 and 2016 (12% abv) - One of Asda's 'Extra Special' labels and almost always on offer at a bargain £6 or £7 (£8 'usually'), this superior rosé Cava is produced by the Marques de la Concordia group although not sure if it always was? As the latest 2017 vintage tastes quite different from the previous 2016 (also reviewed last year) - this could just be an age thing as the '16 was richer toastier and fruitier, and the '17 is fresher and more appley although still a nice buy and may well deepen in flavour in bottle.
Marques del Norte Cava Vintage 2018, Jaume Serra (11.5%) - Another good Asda buy at £6, this reliable Cava offers nutty and apple notes with refreshing frothy finish.
Emendis Nu Allongé Cava Brut Nature (11.5%) - Made by Anna and Jordi Valles from the Xarel-lo grape variety, this classy Catalan fizz treads the fine line well between toasty yeasty and roasted almond with aromatic freshness and very dry finish. £11.99 Virgin Wines (excluding any wine club members' discount).

Hungary
Andoni Sparkling Wine Sec NV (11.5%) - It says 'blended from four of Hungary's native grape varieties' on Virgin Wines' website, so your guess is as good as mine: easy-going fizz modelled in the style of 'Hungarian Prosecco' with a light touch and off-dry finish (£10.99 although I paid a good bit under a tenner).

France
La Burgondie Bourgogne Chardonnay 2019, Vignerons de Buxy (13%) - White peach and citrus turning creamier with nutty aromas and flavours too, elegant dry and fruity mouth-feel with fresh acidity yet a touch of oily roundness. Quite stylish Chardy, a good all-rounder. Tesco £10/£9 on offer.
Gayda Collection Grenache 2019, IGP Pays d'Oc (14%) - Delicious unoaked Grenache from this go-getting Languedoc winery (I'll spare you the gay sixth sense giggle concerning its name) with kirsch and dark chocolate tones, fairly soft cherry and liquorice finish, just a hint of tannin and oomph too. £9.99 James Nicholson (JN) Wines (less 20% January sale discount, 10% off mixed case). Good with duck.
Petit Mazuret Viognier 2019, IGP Méditerranée (14%) - Thought-provoking style of Viognier from southern Provence that downplays the overt apricot/peach characters, although it's certainly aromatic with rich spicy honeyed fruit, rounded oily texture and quite concentrated finish. Try with smoked haddock. £9.50 JN Wines (less 20% January sale discount, 10% off mixed case).

Italy
Villa Bianchi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2019, Umani Ronchi, Marche (12.5%) - Typical example of this popular central-eastern Italian dry white: peachy floral and flavoursome with crisp chalky and elegant aftertaste. Apparently from organic vineyards although I don't remember seeing a certification symbol on the bottle? £9.99 JN Wines (less 20% January sale discount, 10% off mixed case).

Portugal
Porta 6 Vinho Regional Lisboa 2019, Vidigal Wines (50% Tinta Roriz, 40% Castelão and 10% Touriga Nacional, 13.5% abv) - Very attractive smooth red with ripe black cherry/berry fruit, violets liquorice and spice, a hint of dry tannin in the mouth with powerful but balanced finish. £7.50 Tesco (the funky label was based on a Lisbon street painting, copied from Tesco's site).

South Africa
Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2019, Swaartland, Badenhorst Family (13.5%) - Shaped by 50+ year-old bush vines giving lush concentrated very ripe fruit, this wine was partly fermented in large old casks lending rounded oily texture, as well as extended ageing on the yeast-less adding complex flavours. Rich honeyed pineapple/apricot with tangy nutty edges lending a sweet-sour twist, lingering weighty mouthfeel. £11.50 JN Wines (less 20% January sale discount, 10% off mixed case).

22 February 2021

'Noir, blanc or gris: Grenache is at home in the wild south' - The Wine Merchant magazine

Screenshot from the latest digital edition:

This short paragraph from an article in the February 2021 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine (UK business publication) is a taster of a few combined extracts from my book on the Roussillon region themed around the Grenache variety. Follow the link above to read the feature (and the full digital issue) or scan the QR code below. Or go to winemerchantmag.com to find out more and buy a printed copy.

"There seems to be a minor buzz about the Grenache variety whether from the south of France, the better-established southern Rhone Valley regions, northeast Spain or South Australia. Best known as a red or ‘black’ variety, Grenache noir in French, in fact it’s a family of grape varieties in three different shades. There’s a strong heritage of old vine Grenache in the Roussillon for making Port-style Vins Doux Naturels, but it has become the region’s defining grape for red (and rosé) wines giving them power (sometimes an unfashionably elevated alcohol level) and lush spicy fruit, although not necessarily such a deep colour or firm tannins. There were 6000 hectares of Grenache in 2016 falling from over 7000 ha ten years earlier; if it continued to diminish while not being replaced sufficiently, that heritage could be lost for ever at the expense of newer arrivals such as Syrah..."