Wines for the weekend - January 2019
Dry January? Just cutting down after the excesses of the festive period? Well done to you! If you're going to be drinking less, then you can afford to push the boat out and drink better. Splash a little more than you might otherwise. Here are three wines to help you drink better, as I recommended on BBC Wiltshire's "Wines for the Weekend" this week.
Wine One - Les 3 tourelles Pouilly Fumé, Sainsburys, 2017 (£15)
Our first recommendation comes from the Val de Loire in France, where the appellation of Pouilly-Fumé makes refreshing wines from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Traditionally, this grape was dismissed by the French as just a common country wine, but in the 1950s, chic Parisians decided it was in vogue, and Pouilly-Fumé has been sought after (and pricier) ever since.
For those used to drinking the limey, gooseberry packed Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand, you'll notice a difference with this French version. Whilst still packed with aromas that you'd expect from a cool climate - green, grassy notes with gooseberry, the flinty soils of the area give the wine a hint of smokiness; thus the Fumé name.
This wine can be drunk on its own but would also bring out the smokiness of foods such as smoked salmon or haddock, soft cheese (goats cheese would be great) or match it with the grassy nature of asparagus.
Currently Sainsburys are selling the 2017 vintage, which is scoring higher on the reviews website Vivinothan any of the earlier vintages.
Wine Two - Sainsburys Taste the Difference Chianti Classico, 2015, £9
For a recent edition of Which magazine, supermarkets were invited to put forward the red wine that they considered to be their "best" in terms of quality and price. Sainsburys put forward their Chianti Classico, and for the price, this is an impressive wine that feels special.
Chianti comes from the Tuscany region of Italy, where vines sprawl over the rolling hills between Florence and Siena. The sun drenched slopes are ideal for the ripening of the Sangiovese grape, the dominant grape in this wine, although it has been blended with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The "classico" label is important as it means the wine has come from the traditional heartland of Chianti - in the centre of the region where the hills cool the air more, and create more perfume in the wine.
For anyone used to drinking young fruity wines, tasting a chianti classico may be an assault on the senses to begin with. The aromas are herbal and smoky, with a very dry taste of sour cherry and tannins that seem to stick around your gums. We decanted the wine, which served to soften the tannins and round out the flavours noticeably. After nearly four years couped up in the bottle, this wine is desperate to breathe.
It's definitely a wine to enjoy with food. If you don't want to be eating anyone's liver (like Hannibal Lecter) then a hearty stew would match well, as well as Italian foods such as meaty pizza, or porky pasta.
Wine three - Edinburgh Plum and Vanilla Gin Liqueur, Morrisons, £18
At a gin tasting last year, we were given a welcome drink of Prosecco blended with plum and vanilla liqueur, and this has been a favourite treat of mine ever since.
This juicy number is one of several flavoured gins that Edinburgh Gin company produce, and can be equally delicious on its own poured over ice, or served in a Prosecco to make it more fruity.
Morrisons sell the range, as do John Lewis, Magnum wine shop and (if you're flying off anywhere soon) the World Duty Free shops at airports. If you stay dry through January, this is well worth splashing out on in February!