Spring has sprung!
Finally it appears that Spring has sprung. The yellow sphere in the sky is back, the birds are singing sweet songs and the trees are getting dressed after their naked slumber. Two things this week have made me realise that its time to rethink the drink and get out the spring wine list. The first was a delightful bottle of Vouvray on a sunny Thursday evening, the second was a far grander affair…
For some weeks now a plan had been coming together to surprise Peter on his birthday. Mum had arranged to take him away for a weekend, unbeknownst to him his daughter was busy sorting out a surprise day on the water in Henley with all the kids (ha!) and their better halves. My job in all if this was simple… Choose some suitable vino!
As it was a celebration, bubbles were a must so I chose the brilliant Camel Valley Chardonnay 2008 along with the safe bet of Lanson Black Label NV. The offering from Cornwall was an absolute delight and totally put the Champagne in the shade but both screamed spring time. For the whites I stuck with the UK theme and selected a bottle of Sharpham New release 2012 – a tin of fruit cocktail in a glass – you can even taste the single cherry! The next white choice couldn’t fail as I went with Chablis. Nothing flash, just a very precise village wine with great fruit/mineral balance from the 2011 vintage. So fresh, so spring. Peter is a big red fan so I took along a couple of Cabernets, one from Haut Medoc (Les Allees de Cantemerle 2006) and one from McLaren Vale (Wirra Wirra Dead Ringer 2009), hardly spring choices but they were certainly delicious!
Both the off-dry offerings of Vouvray and the underrated salinity of Muscadet will be taking up plenty of space in my fridge. I’ll be spending a week in the region during the summer and am getting very excited about it!
Clos de Nouys Vouvray Demi Sec 2011, Loire, France (Waitrose £10.99)
Really rich flavours of ripe peaches, hint of apricot and lively acidity combine beautifully with the sweetness to provide a refreshing and balanced mouthful that makes the sun seem that little bit warmer. 90 points
I am more and more impressed with the still whites the more I get the chance to drink them. The Madelaine Angevine grape can now stand shoulder to shoulder with many of its more famous European cousins.
Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve 2010 (www.sharpham.co.uk £9.95)
Oodles of fresh fruit from nectarines, limes and grapefruit and is held together with a hint of oak from the ageing process and just a touch of residual sugar. Very elegant and one of the best English whites around. 91 points
Get your hands on some Vinho Verde. From northern Portugal, super fresh and fruity wine with lots citrus and apple character. Maybe even a hint of spritz – go for it.
Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2012, Portugal (Waitrose £7.49)
Currently £5.99 with 25% off. Lots of lemon, lime and apple skin fruit and massively refreshing. It’s not complex but its deliciously refreshing and a real fun wine with that hint of spritz. 89 points
New World Riesling
Surprise surprise! I just love this stuff, whether its Australia, New Zealand or South Africa… I’m looking for a bit of sweetness this Spring – that seems to be my theme!
Pegasus Bay Riesling 2009, Waipara, NZ (Roberson £17.95)
Ok so this isn’t cheap but its bloody brilliant! I first came across this wine at The Providores restaurant in Marylebone and now I can buy it at Roberson, just around the corner from work! Intense lime and pineapple freshness – like crushed pineapple chunks. Lovely off-dry finish and very, very long. One if my very favourites. 93 points
I’m really enjoying adventuring through the complexity of Italian wines at the moment but there are some wonderful wines just perfect for a sunny afternoon. Whether you look to Lugana in Veneto or head further south and search out Falanghina from Campania or Orvieto from Umbria, you will find plenty to brighten up your spring palate.
De Falco Beneventano Falanghina 2011, Campania, Italy (Wine & the Vine £10.55)
Lots of fruit, pears and grapefruit and a touch if white flowers. Lots more fruit on the palate, pears and grapefruit again but with a lovely acidic freshness. Very nice this. 89 points
Italy is also my Spring red recommendation. I’m looking at Piedmont, but not the superstars of Barolo and Barbaresco, but the value and early drinking wines from Alba and Asti. Both Barbera and Dolcetto are super grapes with loads of acidity and red fruit flavour – absolutely great chilled too.
Michele Chiarlo Dolcetto d’Asti 2010, Piedmont, Italy (Wine & the Vine £11.55)
Youthful aromas and palate of young red cherries and Victoria plums. Wonderful acidity and just enough tannin to provide a super balance. 90 points