This week I’ve managed to be in both Chile and Argentina so it was a toss-up which should provide the wine of the week . . .
As most of my time was spent in Chile and I need time to sort out my notes on the wines I’ve tasted there I’m going for this delicious Torrontes we tried from a winery called Kaiken over the border in Luyan de Cuyo.
In fact they source the grapes from old vines in Cafayate in Salta up in the north of the country which is considered the best area for this indigenous grape variety. (The vineyards go up to 1600 metres.) It has something of gewurztraminer about it but is softer and slightly less sweet - a great match for south-east Asian food or, locally in Chile, simply prepared shellfish like crab and prawns. (I’ll be posting a fuller list of Torrontes pairings soon).
The 2014 vintage doesn’t seem to have arrived in the UK yet but you can find the 2013 at £8.99 at Hawkshead wines and slurp.co.uk or £10.99 or £8.89 if you buy two bottles from Brook & Vine. It's also widely stocked in the US - see wine-searcher.com for details.
As I’m off to New Zealand in January I’m trying to get up to speed with what’s going on over there so I leapt at the opportunity to attend a vertical from one of Marlborough’s leading producers Dog Point.
It was particularly fascinating in the case of their Sauvignon Blanc, a wine you don’t necessarily expect to age but there wasn’t a single wine in the flight - from 2004 to 2014 which tasted tired.
The winery is run by James Healy and Ivan Sutherland who used to be the winemaker and viticulturalist respectively at Cloudy Bay. All of their fruit is estate-grown and mostly comes from from low yielding vines which date back to the 70s and 80s. The grapes are all hand harvested.
My favourite was the 2008 - a good vintage - which was full of luscious golden gooseberry fruit - so rich but still amazingly fresh.
It made me think it would be worth laying down some of the more recent releases - I particularly liked the 2013 vintage which is a bargainous £13.50 a bottle if you buy it from the Wine Society (when I last looked at Majestic it was £17 a bottle if you bought two and that was on ‘promotion&rsquo but the 2010, if you can lay your hands on any, is also fantastic.
For possible matches check out this post on food pairings with Sauvignon Blanc.
I plan to write up some more thoughts on the tasting if and when I have time (ha!). The Section 94 oak-aged sauvignons and pinots were fantastic too but there’s already a danger of this slot becoming pinot of the week ….
I’ve long been an admirer of Compass Box whisky who were one of the first blenders to create and package sophisticated modern ‘artisan’ whiskies as they like to describe them.
This is one of their latest expressions which pays homage to one of their early releases Eleuthera which they no longer make. The name refers to a short story by the American writer O. Henry about two guys who try to recreate a blend of spirits with supernatural properties - which seems particularly appropriate for Hallowe’en night.
It’s a blend of two Highland single malts Clynelish and Allt-a-Bhainne and Caol Ila from Islay - and manages to be both scented and floral and peaty. At the risk of stereotyping I’d say it was a very feminine whisky. At any rate I love it.
Apart from sipping it on its own it would be great with smoked salmon or maybe a crumbly cheese like Caerphilly. Not cheap, I’m afraid at £77.54 (Master of Malt) and £78.95 at The Whisky Exchange but a terrific present for any whisky-lover.
* One of the ingenious touches is that there are three different labels which I suppose encourages collectors to buy all three. Clever.
The mere idea of sprout juice may be enough to send the sprout-haters among you running for cover but I have to say I think Marks & Spencer is onto a winner here.
It’s a well-timed seasonal addition to a range of juices which provide an easy way of knocking off your five fruit and vegetables a day without the hassle of having to juice them yourself. (Not that that’s particularly arduous but the cleaning up afterwards is a pain.)
It tastes more appley than sprouty but there is a touch of green about it which which would make it delicious with fresh crunchy salads or cold cuts - just the ticket with the Boxing Day leftovers if you've overdone it the day before. According to the M & S team green juices are going to be huge in 2015 - they also have an apple, asparagus and lemon juice and a kale juice blended with pineapple, mango and passionfruit which really isn't too scary at all.
The other juice I liked was the apple, beetroot and blackcurrant juice where again the veggie component made it taste drier and more savoury than a typical fruit juice. Apparently it's a bit of a Marmite juice - you either love it or hate it but as a beet lover I was quite a fan. I can imagine it going really well with a goats cheese salad.
The juices cost £2.20 for 750ml but are currently on a 3 for £5 offer.
I’ve lost track of the number of times my wine of the week has been a pinot noir but hell, I’ve been in Burgundy this week so what else could I recommend?
Actually I could have suggested a Chablis given that’s the part of burgundy I’ve been exploring but I would have found it impossible to single out just one wine.
This Irancy however is made by a Chablis producer Simmonet-Febvre so there is a Chablis connection. It’s a really delicious bright crunchy red from a lesser known appellation - more full-bodied and fruity than most inexpensive burgundy though without, I suspect, quite the ageing potential. Like a cross between a cru Beaujolais and a light Loire red. The extra oomph and colour comes, I would guess, from the added 5% César.
It costs £14 from Marks & Spencer and should be in store next week. I’d definitely look out for it and take advantage of any of those 25% off deals M & S might be offering. Looking ahead to Christmas (gulp!) it would be the perfect wine for the turkey leftovers or a turkey sandwich but in the meantime with charcuturie, simple grills or chilled with seared tuna. It’s one of those happy wines that really brings a smile to your face.
Incidentally Irancy is one of the prettiest villages in Burgundy. If you’re visiting Chablis take a detour south-west and see it nestled (can’t believe I’m using that word) in the middle of the surrounding slopes.