As I mentioned in my Guardian column this week I’m slightly disenchanted with the Languedoc’s signature grape variety Picpoul which isn’t nearly the good value it once was but Grangette’s is one I rather like.
Even better is their more unusual Piquepoul Noir which the manager of La Taverne du Port, a wine shop and restaurant in Marseillan, urged us to try. It manages to pull off what Sauvignon rosés rarely achieve - being crisp, fruity and dry. It tastes like a Picpoul but has the structure of a dry rosé. It was terrifically good with a scratch picnic-style lunch of charcuterie and tomato salad yesterday.
I haven’t got my copy of Jancis Robinson et al’s excellent Wine Grapes to hand but according to her website Piquepoul Noir is a rare variant of the better known Piquepoul Blanc which can also be found in small quantities in Spain where it goes under the name Picapoll Negre.
Needless to say, thanks to the Chancellor, it costs a good deal more back home than the 6€ we paid for it at La Taverne du Port* - you’ll pay £10.25 a bottle for it at the only UK stockist I could find, Carte du Vin, but that’s still not a bad price for an interesting rosé.
* a shop I can strongly recommend if you’re looking for interesting wines in the area. In addition to local wines they also have a good selection from Burgundy and the Rhone - and an informal restaurant/wine bar with an interesting and well-priced selection of wines by the glass.
So here’s a special for Malbec World Day - maybe a bit of a cheat as it also includes some Touriga Nacional but I quite like Malbec in a blend.
In this case the Touriga Nacional, which Santa Julia was the first to plant in Argentina apparently, provides a dark, exotic element which takes what can be a jammy edge off Malbec at this price while the Malbec gives the Touriga a fragrant lift.
It’s part of a special parcel of wines that is available at Waitrose until May 3rd with an additional 20% discount for myWaitrose cardholders, presumably as an incentive to get us all to sign up. I wouldn’t be rushing to snap up the other wines though. The whites aren’t nearly as interesting or as well-priced.
The discount makes it a great deal at £6.39 but even at £7.99 it’s a good buy* And if you buy six bottles in total you get a further 5% off
Drink with steak (obviously) or lamb. It would also make a good barbecue wine.
For other malbec pairings see What food to match with Malbec.
*though only available in store and apparently through waitrose.com though I can't find it on the website.
I was sent this wine by Waitrose as part of a selection of samples.
Every so often (sadly not THAT often) you come across a wine on a wine list that’s so well priced you can’t quite believe it. Which is what happened to us last night at the St Vincent in Clifton.
It’s a world class South African chardonnay from the Hemel-en-aarde region -beautifully smooth and creamy with just a hint of that struck match character that makes Burgundy so beguiling.
At £12.50 for a 50cl carafe (nice to see it carafed by the way) goodness knows why it wasn’t selling. The South-African owners of the restaurant had apparently bought a large consignment which they were struggling to shift so were flogging if off by the glass. We had the last bottle so I’m afraid it’s all gone now. (Cue for unseemly gloating.)
We should by rights have drunk it with the grilled lobster they have on the menu but were were checking out their fixed price early evening menu (£12.75 for two courses: good for the money but there’s better food in Bristol to be honest.)
If you want to acquire some Ataraxia for yourself Butlers Wine Cellar of Brighton appears to have the best price at £18.99 a bottle, it's £19.50 at Stone, Vine & Sun and £23.50 at Bottle Apostle. You can see why I leapt on it.
The first of my random wine finds in this new series* is a young Spanish red called Desconocido #1 Tinto Joven 2013 from Alicante which is made from bush-vine Monastrell (or Mourvèdre as they call it in France).
It’s made by one of Spain’s most talented winemakers, Telmo Rodriguez, and is a rich, spicy, but at 13.5% not overly alcoholic red - at least not for that part of the world. The idea behind the range, which is called ‘unknown’ is to feature wines from less well-known wine regions, grape varieties or blends. The word 'desconocido' means 'stranger'.
As the blurb on the back label puts it it’s “an artisanal red that would be difficult not to enjoy with a variety of red wine foods”. It was perfect with the pot roast of pork with orange, fennel and olives that has been my recipe of the week this week but I think would go with other robust pork dishes too and costs a modest £7.99 from the Co-op.
* where I pick a bottle that appeals to me randomly from a wine store. See my blog post for the thinking behind this.
I’ve been dithering about which of the Verus range to recommend as my wine of the week because frankly they’re all delicious but if you haven’t tried them before the riesling is a good starting point
Although it’s dry(ish) it has a floral character I haven’t quite come across anywhere else. I’m wondering if it’s a special Slovenian strain of the variety that makes it especially charming. Or maybe it’s just the ripeness (at 13% it’s relatively high in alcohol for a riesling.) It would make the perfect aperitif but would also be lovely with light food like a chicken or prawn salad.
The slightly out-of-date website doesn’t state whether it's organic or biodynamic but I’m suspecting it may be as it was still as fresh 4 or 5 days on as when we first opened the bottle.
Verus is a joint enterprise from three winemaker friends who come from winemaking families. If you’re ordering some do also try the slightly drier Furmint and gorgeous grapey Muskateller too. They’re more than reasonable for the quality at £11.99 online from the Real Wine Company or by the bottle from Field & Fawcett of York (£12.60) or Butlers Wine Cellar of Brighton (£12.99)