Who could resist a wine with a label like this at this time of year yet I ordered it before I’d even seen it.
It seemed like the perfect spring-like partner for the very light elegant food we were eating at Antidote restaurant in London where it was available by the glass: a crab and cucumber salad in my friend The Food Judge's case, asparagus with apple and avocado cream in mine.
I was sure it was a typically Alsacien combination of grape varieties maybe with a touch of riesling or muscat but surprisingly it turned out it was pinot blanc though I can't find out much more than that. Josmeyer's website is only giving background on the 2012 vintage. Anyway was just delightful: pretty, floral, gracefully aromatic - as the name suggests, the essence of spring.
The 2014 doesn’t seem to be widely available yet in the UK or the US - the only stockist I can find through wine-searcher.com is Decorum Vintners but it’s not actually listed on their site. I would call them - they say they’re ‘real people’ which is encouraging. I've also heard that Dynamic Vines stocks it at their Spa Terminus shop on Saturday mornings and Ministry of Drinks seem to have it - along with the 2013 vintage - too. But I'd go for the '14.
This weekend is the last in the current promotion at Waitrose which they’re trumpeting dramatically as a ‘last chance to save’ on their collection of spring wines.
Of course it isn’t. There will be a new raft of deals as soon as this one has finished but it’s your last chance to snap up this particular one which is on offer until Tuesday 12th and which I pulled off the shelf in my local small branch in Bristol.
It’s a big juicy red from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa - a classic Rhône blend of Shiraz Mourvèdre and Viognier though mainly shiraz. It’s all gorgeous dark cherries and forest fruits but not overly jammy and would be perfect with a barbecue. If you feel it could benefit from bit of air to make it smoother double decant it (i.e. pour it into a jug then back into the bottle. A funnel makes this job easier if you don’t have a steady hand.)
I paid £6.25 for it which I thought was fair enough given that the usual price is £8.29 but Waitrose has told me that the deal is £5.99 and that’s the price on the website. I don’t know if that was an error on the part of the branch or if they bump up the prices in smaller shops* but you might as well save yourself the extra 26p if you can, especially if you're buying more than one bottle.
By the way, if you like ripe, full-bodied reds you might also enjoy the handsomely bottled Tinto da Anfora 2013 from Portugal’s Alentejo region which is on offer at £7.99. But note the vintage on the website is 2011 not 2013 which is the one I'm recommending. Hopefully that's the one you'll find in store.
* I will look into this!
Although I’m supposed to be the wine expert in the family my husband has an uncanny knack of alighting on exactly the right bottle when we go out to eat, unfailingly plucking the bargain from any wine list.
This week’s triumph, at a late meal at Flinty Red after the BBC Food and Farming Awards in Bristol on Thursday night was a deliciously quaffable Gaillac, Domaine d’Escausses, cuvée des Drilles which was on the wine list at just £23 and went brilliantly with all the random small plates we ordered including a challenging dish of smoked pork belly with a spicy slaw and another of braised squid with polenta.
You can buy it for £9.99 from Corks of Cotham up the road who are joint owners of Flinty Red - a modest mark-up which shows how reasonable their wine prices are. The vintage in the restaurant (2012) appeared to be an earlier one than the 2013 had in the shop though. You can also buy it online from slurp.co.uk for £8.95 and other independents including Bentley’s of Ludlow, The Smiling Grape Company and Theatre of Wine
The cuvée is made from Duras and Fer (the local name for Cabernet Franc) - both indigenous varieties to south-west France and is imported - why am I not surprised? - by Les Caves de Pyrène who describe it as “the sort of red that we need to drink for medicinal quenching purposes.” Quite.
Apologies for the quality of the image and the bespattered label (low light, late night) but at least I remembered to snap it!
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.