April is a time of blossom on the trees, hints of sunshine, maybe a few showers, but some great English produce, such as wild garlic, spinach, asparagus, lettuce and broad beans. Everything feels fresh and optimistic. So for St George's Day, why not celebrate the utter Englishness of English wine paired with a simple dish of asparagus pasta with lemon. (Recipe below)
Most English white wines (and sparkling wines) will pair with summery English food, due to the crisp, dry acidity and delicate elderflower character. The dominant English wine brands are Ridgeview, Nyetimber (the most established), Bolney Estate, Chapel Down, Hattingley Valley and Three Choirs. It's the latter that we turn to for this pairing, as one of the closest major vineyards to Swindon, and award-winning too.
All the grapes are grown on two estates; one at Newent in Gloucestershire and the other at Wickham in Hampshire, but all the wine making is undertaken at their modern purpose-built winery at Newent. Currently, Three Choirs produce a sparkling wine, two red wines from different grape varieties, two rose wines, five white wines from different grape varieties, as well as house wines. They're certainly a busy vineyard!
We recommend the Bacchus 2013, one of the stand-out wines of the 2013 harvest. It tastes quite similar to a sauvignon blanc, in that it has distinctive hints of elderflower and nettle on the nose, leading to a crisp herbaceous palate . It works well with the sort of food that pairs with sauvignon blanc, but is usually a degree or so lighter in alcohol so may not be able to cope with too intense flavours. You can buy from the Three trees farm shop in Chisledon, and direct from the vineyard (cellar door or online).
As well as the asparagus pasta with lemon, you could pair a Bacchus with goats cheese, grilled salmon, crab and prawn, or a chicken or tomato salad.
We hope you enjoy!
240 g asparagus 350 g penne or egg tagliatelle Salt and black pepper 50 g unsalted butter 100 ml double cream Grated zest and juice of one lemon 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley Grated Parmesan to serve Method Snap off the bottom tough or bendy ends of the asparagus. If the stems are quite chunky, pare off a thin layer of stalk at the stem end with a potato peeler. Cut the stalks at an angle, leaving the tips whole. Steam or boil the asparagus for 7 to 8 minutes until tender but still crisp. Rinse in cold water and drain. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until "al dente". While you're cooking the pasta, warm the butter and cream in a pan over a gentle heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked asparagus and the lemon juice and zest. Take off the heat and leave for five minutes for the flavours to blend. When the pasta is cooked, drain all but a tablespoon of the cooking liquid, add the olive oil, and combine with the asparagus and lemon sauce. Stir, season and serve with plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley scattered on top, and a bowl of grated Parmesan