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.
I’ve a soft spot for the Faugères wine region which is just up the road from our house in the Languedoc. It’s a beautiful wild hilly area on the foothills of the coastal range which produces some lovely warm spicy reds.
This is a good example at an unsually keen price - normally £8.49 but on offer at Waitrose at £6.79 until October 28th. For those who like to know these things it’s a blend of Carignan (35%), Grenache (35%) Syrah (25%) and Mourvèdre but because it’s made from old vines it’s got real intensity and character despite the fact that it’s unoaked. (Often an advantage as it keeps the cost down)
It would be great with autumn food - everything from sausage and mash to a Sunday roast or - thinking ahead a couple of weeks - a bonfire night bash. A really good buy.
The idea of making wine in London from grapes grown in France and Italy sounds a bit of a crazy one but London Cru’s first vintage is an impressive debut.
The 'urban winery', which is backed by the entrepreneurial wine merchant Cliff Roberson, operates out of a former gin distillery in Earl's Court. This year they’ve released four wines from grapes harvested last year including a full-bodied Roussillon chardonnay, a bright, zesty young Syrah from the same region, a Cabernet Sauvignon made by Mas Coutelou in Puimisson the next door village to our house in Languedoc and a Barbera.
What I like about these wines in general is that they’re not overworked or overextracted. It would have been easy to make a simple crowd-pleaser but they’re quite daringly fresh-tasting and modest in alcohol - almost verging on natural wine.
Of the four I like the Barbera (Red Wine 2) least - it’s a little weedy for the price - and the syrah (Red Wine 1) best. It’s a lovely wine - vivid and life-affirming, the sort to gulp down with some spicy sausages, charcuterie or confit duck and chips. At 12.5% it’s not by any means a blockbuster.
The Chardonnay (White Wine 1) which I at first took for grenache gris is also appealing - smooth and full but not too heavy. A good foil for roast chicken or a veal chop. The Cabernet (Red Wine 3) I think you’d find a little light if you were a cab fan - I don’t feel it's Jeff Coutelou’s favourite grape. (Go for his 7 rue de la Pompe instead)
At £15 each these wines are not cheap but given the overheads I suspect they’re not being sold at a massive profit either. They seem to have a few sampler cases of each of the 4 bottles left which is a good way to taste all the wines although there’s no price advantage in it. It would make a great present for any Londoner, particularly one who lives in SW6, but I’d get in quick. I suspect there won’t be much, if any, left in the run-up to Christmas.
* You can also book tickets for tours of the winery during November
I don’t often get the chance to taste wines from the northern supermarket chain Booth’s but fell hook, line and sinker for this gorgeous Spanish white they served at their pre-Christmas lunch this week.
It’s a Godello from the Valdeorros region of north-western Spain made by three winemaker friends* (hence Les Trois Amis) and is a glorious citrus-burst of wine though softer, richer and less aggressive than many sauvignon blancs.
It was a brilliant match with a ‘shrimp crumpet’ (a crumpet topped with buttery Morecombe Bay shrimps, a poached egg and hollandaise) but would be great with pretty well anything fishy, especially prawns.
The particularly good news is that although it’s normally £15.49** Booth’s has a 3 for the price of 2 offer on wines over £10 currently so you could get it for £10.33 plus another 5% off it you buy six bottles of wine in total. The offer applies in store only until October 7th so lucky you if you have a Booth’s near you!
* Dominique Roujou de Boubée, Laura Montero and Franck Massard
** Berry Brothers match this price if you buy a case of 12 but charge £17.19 for a single bottle.
This week’s Wine Society tasting was, as always, impressive but there’s one wine I’d urge you to buy now, despite the £16 price tag, as I suspect there isn't much of it.
It’s made from the incredibly rare Carignan Gris of which there are apparently only 2 ha in France and Katie Jones of Domaine Jones is the woman who has her hands on them.
Although related to its red counterpart* it's a delicious, characterful dry white with a marked herby edge which buyer Marcel Orford-Williams aptly recommends with “a few shellfish or maybe some mussels” (mussels would be perfect). And unlike the majority of Roussillon whites it’s only 12.5%
I’ve written about Katie Jones’ wines before. She went to France over 20 years ago to head up sales and marketing for Le Cave de Mont Tauch, the co-op in Fitou but ended up going native and becoming a winemaker. Her other white, Jones Blanc, a more typical grenache gris (£14.95 at the Wine Society) is also a great buy
* it’s a colour mutation according to Jancis Robinson et al’s invaluable Wine Grapes