I must confess a sentimental attachment to Gentilini who I visited on the beautiful island of Kefalonia back in 2001 when I was researching a feature on Greek food.(Kefalonia - or Cephalonia as it's sometimes spelt - is where the book and film Captain Corelli's Mandolin was set.)
Up to now the only wine I’d come across of theirs in the UK was Robola, an appealingly aromatic, floral white but Oddbins, who stock that too, recently sent me this stunning red to try.
It’s made from the local Mavrodaphne of Kefalonia but tastes more like a good Bordeaux which helps to justify its relatively expensive £17.50 price tag* (still ony £3 a standard 125ml glass for those who think that sounds a bit toppy). Wine is sometimes described as velvety but this one really is with gorgeous dark, damsony fruit. It would go really well with roast lamb and middle-eastern-style meat dishes so is exactly the sort of wine you should buy if you’re cooking up an Ottolenghi-ish style feast.
Perhaps a bit left-field for Christmas drinking so enjoy it before you get swept up in all the madness.
* At the moment you only appear to be able to find it in store - but I do know it's there as I checked in my local branch!
If you’re a fan of mature Chablis - or are looking for a special white for Christmas - this is a marvellous bottle from one of Chablis’ most idiosyncractic and interesting winemakers
Defaix makes his Chablis the traditional way with natural yeasts and ages them for much longer than conventional producers.
Normally the price would be around £18* but at the moment Booth’s is only charging £15.79 for it which I think is a steal for a wine of this age and provenance. (Sometimes they have a 3 for 2 offer on wines over £10 which would make it better value still)
I’d drink it with a good piece of grilled flat fish like sole or brill though it would obviously go with other seafood suspects like scallops, salmon or with a simply roast chicken or guineafowl with a creamy sauce.
While you’re in Booths which has branches all over the north-west of England I suggest you also pick up a bottle of the deliciously peachy Domaine de Vedilhan Serica Pays d’Oc Viognier 2014 which is currently on offer at £7.99 rather than £9.99
*You can also buy this wine from Tanner’s and Laithwaite’s
I’m surprised there aren’t more wine brands and labels dedicated to Hallowe’en but yesterday I found a perfect one at the Majestic press tasting.
It’s called Sofa King Bueno from a zany winery called Chronic Cellars* in Paso Robles in Calfornia - a big (14.8%!) juicy exuberant blend of petite sirah, syrah, grenache and mourvedre which has a skeleton on the label
It would be great with something like an authentic south-west American - or even a Tex-Mex - chile or with barbecued brisket and obviously would be equally suitable for the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations the next day
The only downside is that at £14.99 (on multibuy at Majestic) it’s not quite cheap enough for a party but I’ll be posting some better value Hallowe’en and bonfire night reds next week. Apparently it’s in 107 of the Majestic branches which is roughly half the estate and is supposed to be available online though I can’t currently find it on the site. There’s still time for them to order if for you though if you want it.
Availability - and price - is better in the US.
*Which is run by a family called Beckett. No relation but an added bonus so far as I'm concerned!
The dilemma for us wine writers is when to recommend a wine we're really excited about. Do we save it up for a round-up of the best wines we’ve tasted in that category or tell you about it straight away on the basis that every other journo will be pushing it too?
Well I’m going for the latter course of action because delicious affordable red burgundies are few and far between. It was shown at the Waitrose tasting this week and comes from one of the region’s most reliable growers and negociants Joseph Drouhin and from one of the lesser known and therefore better value Burgundy appellations, Rully.
There’s a white and a red - both good - though the red, a lovely delicate ethereal pinot, is only available in 18 branches while you can find the white, a premier cru, in 231. The red, which is also organic, is made by head winemaker Veronique Drouhin using natural yeasts (no, it isn't remotely scary!)
If you feel £15.49 is still a fair bit to pay my guess is that Waitrose will almost certainly have one of its 25% off deals over the next few weeks so you could hold on. But if you spot some on the shelf of your local branch I’d grab a bottle to try or include a couple of bottles if you're ordering online. It’s also stocked by winedirect.co.uk for £16.50 (or £15.83 if you buy an unsplit case) or £125 in bond from Justerini & Brooks.
The red should easily keep 2-3 years.but would be lovely right now with game like simply roast partridge or pheasant, with calves liver, rack of lamb or with seared tuna
One of the pleasures of being at our house in the Languedoc is diving into the cellar and fishing out old, overlooked bottles.
We normally open at least three on the basis that only one is likely to have survived. Last night it was this amazing 23 year old bottle from Sylvain Fadat of Domaine d’Aupilhac which was better than it had any right to be for its modest price tag and the fact that it was only his third vintage. I can’t remember what we paid for it but it would certainly have been well under £10.
There’s no back label so I can’t tell you exactly what the grapes were either but the current 2013 vintage is a blend of mourvèdre, syrah, carignan and grenache - in that order. The ageability is almost certainly due to the mourvèdre according to Doug Wregg of Aupilhac’s current importers Les Caves de Pyrène, a view that gave my husband particular satisfaction as he said it tasted to him like old Bandol.
The colour as you can see was still extraordinarily vivid - it was hardly faded - nor was the gentle, sweet, mellow, plummy fruit. And, more surprisingly still, it was only 12.5% in those days. (The current ABV is more like 14%-14.5%). Considering the conditions in which we keep our wine - not even a proper cellar but a dark, former kitchen with a dirt floor on the ground floor of an old village house its survival in such good condition was nothing short of miraculous*.
The current 2012 vintage is available from les Caves at Pyrene at £12.35 plus VAT (£14.82) or, if you want to sample an older vintage, Terroir Languedoc has the 2000 vintage for £11.95 and the 2006 for £10. You can also buy it direct from the domaine for €14.70 (£10.84 at the current rate of exchange). They have old vintages too.
(What did we eat with it? I’m embarrassed to say nothing grander than a vegetarian pizza we had so little hope of any of the wines being drinkable but it wasn’t a bad match. In an ideal world some roast or grilled lamb would have been a better foil.)
*although the website does say it will age from 4-20 years.