Match of the week | Grilled sardines and - eeek! - Sir Cliff's Onda Nova Verdelho

Match of the week

Grilled sardines and - eeek! - Sir Cliff's Onda Nova Verdelho

As the best summer for a barbeque for some years it’s been a frustrating time for us flat-dwellers but when I was sent some fresh sardines* the other day I knew I was going to have to find some way to grill them outside if the flat wasn’t going to smell of fish for days.

We ended up buying a portable barbecue and cooking them in the gardens below and I have to say they were all the better for our campfire-style efforts. Sardines are made to be grilled.

They’re also made to be washed down with Portuguese Verdelho, a terroir-based match that makes eminent sense. My husband had discovered a bottle labelled Onda Nova on the ViniPortugal stand at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair the other day and we’d enjoyed its fresh green sappy almost Vinho Verde-esque character. It also picked up well on our accompanying veg: grilled fennel, courgettes (zucchini) and baby artichokes and on the radishes we nibbled while we were waiting for the fire to catch.

It wasn’t until I read about the wine afterwards I discovered that the estate Adega do Cantor, which is based in the Algarve, is owned by none other than British pop legend Cliff Richard, whose silver signature adorns the back label. The wine - according to Sir Cliff who I imagine doesn’t make it himself - is fermented in stainless steel and filtered and bottled with minimal handling within six months of vintage. It's a substantial 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.

Would I have enjoyed it as much if I’d known beforehand? I probably wouldn’t. I’d have expected it to be confected and commercial and I would have been wrong. You can buy it from for £73.59 - not bad but not nearly such a bargain as it was at the fair where we snapped it up for £7.99 a bottle. (It would have been €8.50 direct from the site but is unfortunately sold out. It might be worth keeping an eye out for the 2009 vintage)

*By mail by a firm called Fish for Thought which originally traded as Martin's Seafresh and was one of the original online fish suppliers.

Image © ruigsantos -

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