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Drink discoveries

 Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur

Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur

If you’re not a fan of whiskey or the black stuff* there’s another way you can celebrate St Patrick’s Day this week and that is with Feeney’s Irish cream liqueur.

Before you say ‘bleugh’, bear with me. I don’t have a sweet tooth and I found myself demolishing an entire glassful.

It is of course outrageously sweet - imagine condensed milk and double cream blitzed with a Galaxy bar. Which would be pretty cloying at room temperature but well chilled or poured over ice it tastes - rather wonderfully - of frozen chocolate bars.

It would be be ridiculously good poured into a chocolate milk shake (adults only, obvs) or you could use it to make the pannacotta in my St Patrick’s Day supper menu.

Tempted? It’s on offer at £12 a litre at Tesco which compares well to £12-13 a standard 70cl bottle elsewhere. Do it!

*Guinness should you be unfamiliar with that phrase.

Wine of the week: Mas Sardana Cava Brut Nature

Wine of the week: Mas Sardana Cava Brut Nature

I seem to be spending a great deal of time at the moment trying to persuade my readers to drink cava which, pound for pound, is at least equal to if not better value than prosecco.

It’s drier, of course, which may put some people off, but which I regard in most instances as a positive advantage and it’s much improved in quality over the last few years.

This particular cava which I tasted at the Great Western Wine tasting in Bath yesterday is made by former sommelier Franck Massard and is a real gem. It’s a Brut Nature wich means it doesn’t have any extra sugar added but isn’t at all lean or mean as a result - it’s full-flavoured, richly textured and absolutely delicious. It would be great with all things fried like croquetas or even fish & chips.

The price for a single bottle at GWW is £12.95 which is very fair with 10% off if you buy two 6 bottle cases bringing it down to £11.65. And Naked Wines has it for £9.99 if you’re one of their ‘Angels’. (You'll pay £13.49 for it with them if you're not!)

Gundog Estate Wild Semillon 2015

Gundog Estate Wild Semillon 2015

As I pointed out in my Guardian column this week Australian wines are fetching some pretty steep prices but to drink a Hunter Valley semillon of this quality it’s absolutely worth it.

It’s a style of wine I love, with far more texture and richness than you’d guess from its modest ABV, in this case 9.5%. Unlike some Hunter Valley semillons which take time to develop their unique character the Gundog Estate Wild semillon is already richly flavoured.due to the fact that a proportion of the wine is fermented on the skins, as with orange and red wine. (Lush, fat, gorgeous were my tasting notes!)

What would I drink it with. I’m thinking rich seafood - like razor clams or grilled swordfish. It could also take south-east Asian spicing, especially Thai which is in fact what the website suggests

"Because the wine is so textural and carries some residual sweetness, the Wild Semillon is an interesting proposition with food matching" they say. "The wine should hold up well to spicy, Thai-style dishes where acidity, saltiness and chilli are often offset by barely noticeable sweetness. It also partners well to roast pork or lighter poultry dishes."

Retail it’s about £21-£22 at good independents including Uncorked, Butlers Wine Cellar and the Dorset Wine Company. Treat yourself!

Wine of the week: BX Crémant de Bordeaux

Wine of the week: BX Crémant de Bordeaux

As I've pointed out on more than one occasion pink champers is pretty pricey so if you’re looking for something a little more affordable this sparkling Bordeaux rosé I’ve just discovered in Aldi’s Spring Wine Festival should hit the spot

Bordeaux isn’t of course noted for its sparkling wine but as it’s what many people want to drink these days it’s got in on the act.

This, I imagine, is made from merlot and has a lovely fresh strawberry flavour.

Although it’s drier than prosecco it wouldn't be too dry to demolish with a white chocolate dessert or a box of milk chocolates or, as they suggest on the label, with sushi which would would definitely appeal to me.

And at £7.99 it won’t break the bank.

For my other Valentine's Day picks see my Guardian column

 Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir Early 2014

Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir Early 2014

This full-flavoured pinot noir from Worcestershire took me totally by surprise this week. I would never have guessed it was from the UK.

It was on the list at Native in Covent Garden, a charming small modern British restaurant which is also a bit of a find. I was going to make it my match of the week given how well it matched a slightly smoky dish of rare venison with salt-baked turnip and smoked potato but it’s such an intriguing wine it deserves the spotlight on its own.

It’s made by Simon Day who also makes cider at Sixteen Ridges sister company Once Upon a Tree and costs £15.49 from their website. Other stockists include Hawkins Bros who have it for £16 and Hay Wines (£16.49) (Restaurants and hotels can buy it from Jascots*)

Pinot noir early - otherwise known as pinot noir précoce is, as the name suggests, an early ripening variant of pinot noir that is doing particularly well in this part of the world. Think less the pure fruit flavours of the best burgundy or New Zealand pinot noir and more earthy, hedgerow fruits. They also suggest pairing it with crispy roast duck, slow roasted lamb or a rich mushroom dish

It won a silver medal in this year’s IWSC awards and a Bronze in the Decanter World Wine Awards.

* who are one of our regular sponsors

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