Claire @ fromthegrapevine
Wines for the weekend - December 2018
Here's three wines to tuck into this weekend, as I recommended on BBC Wiltshire's "Wines for the Weekend" this week.
Wine One - Zalze Chenin Blanc, Waitrose (£8.79) / Asda (£6)/ Morrisons (£7.25)
Chenin Blanc is a versatile grape variety, grown in vineyards along the Loire Valley in France. In France it is considered a quality grape and production concentrates on higher end Chenin, including sparkling and sweet wines made from the grape. However, in more recent times, the grape has become synonymous with South African wines, where it is considered more of a "workhorse" grape. Our selection today is a juicy, fruity example made by Kleine Zalze on the outskirts of Stellenbosch town in the Western Cape province.
It's name is reported to have come from a Dutch corruption of the word "Salse" - a town in Germany where Nicolaas Cleef, founder of the "Kleine Zalze" winery, came from. We're still not too clear on the pronunciation! What we are clear on is the wine is great value for money.
The climate in South Africa is hotter than the Loire, so this will produce riper grapes with tropical flavours of pineapple, peach and apricot. The deliberate lower fermentation temperatures in the New World enhance such flavours.
This wine will pair well with spicy food - we tasted it with a fish curry and it complemented it brilliantly. The sweetness of the tropical flavours will tackle the spice well. There's no need to chill the wine too much as this may dull the fruity character. As one reviewer pointed out, it's not just fruity, there's a whole orchard in the bottle!
Take a look at Waitrose range of South African Chenin Blancs and order online. You can click and collect in store, or get delivery to your home.
Wine Two - Pintao carménère, Marks and Spencer, £10
It was International carménère day on 24th November, so I just had to try a few to settle on a favourite! This bottle from Marks and Spencer was bursting with black cherry, and blackcurrant that I was immediately sent back to my childhood of eating black cherry Ski yoghurt and dunking digestive biscuits into warm ribena.
Carménère is also a French grape, hailing from the Bordeaux region, where now fewer than 20 acres of carménère vines remain. It is still permitted into Bordeaux blends, but you'll struggle to find examples of this being produced. Thankfully Chile took to planting carménère and it suits their soils and climates to the point it has become Chile's signature grape. To begin with, the vines were mistaken for merlot, and it was as recently as 1994 that DNA testing confirmed that the grapes were in fact, carménère.
Therefore, it's fair to say that this wine can be close to merlot in terms of taste, body and structure so if you enjoy merlot and fancy having a change, then carménère would be a good place to start. They pair well with hearty meat dishes and pasta. (Spag bol / ragu is ideal!).
At time of writing, M&S are out of stock, but the label remains on the shelf suggesting that they are simply awaiting new stock to arrive. Fingers crossed!
Wine three - Christmas Liqueur - The Wiltshire liqueur company, £25 (Online order, or at fayres)
The Wiltshire Liqueur Company are a small team of 4 based just outside Marlborough, and produce a focussed range of delicious spirits, including damson vodka, orange liqueur and sloe gin. Every festive season they add a limited edition Irish Liqueur to the range that they call Christmas Liqueur.
What makes the Christmas liqueur special is that there are only 500 bottles produced. Like a piece of artwork, the label is individually numbered out of 500. Secondly, your purchase is supporting a local company and not contributing to the profits of some faceless conglomerate. Thirdly, the Wiltshire Liqueur Company send out a recipe booklet with every purchase for you to make fantastic cocktails.
Sourcing the Christmas liqueur is also not as easy as throwing it in the shopping trolley next to the sprouts. This can only be purchased online through the website's online shop (postage is thankfully free, and delivery was quick and efficient) or the team regularly attend Christmas fayres where you can purchase and chat to the team member.
So what about the difference in taste? The Wiltshire version is slightly sweeter and has caramel / toffee notes on the nose and in the taste, compared to Baileys that has a creamier texture and the hit of Whiskey is more noticeable. Both Irish creams are 17% ABV - the Wiltshire cream suggests keeping it in the fridge once opened to preserve it better.
If you'd like to treat yourself (or someone for Christmas) the website is https://www.wiltshireliqueur.com