You won’t find Nosiola anywhere other than in this corner of North Eastern Italy, where it thrives in small pockets, perfectly suited to the climate and making zippy, fresh wines. Elisabetta Foradori also brings out the grape’s fragrance, so you don’t want to serve it with anything that masks the wine’s gentle aromas. Simple fish dishes or chicken, perhaps served with a light salad.
Teroldego and Elisabetta Foradori are entwined like the vines on their wires. Since her father’s early death in 1985 she’s been the champion of this fruity, lively variety. The light tannins make it perfect slightly chilled, and Elisabetta enhances that texture with Amphora ageing. A light lamb and pomegranate salad or pasta dishes go perfectly.
A blindingly brilliant wine from famed 80s ad-man John Hegarty (creator of the Nick Kamen launderette Levi’s ad) and his partner Philippa Crane. This shows you can find refinement and elegance in the guarrigue of Minervois, with layers of coffee, raspberry and mint from the Syrah/Carignan blend. It needs firm dishes though, big mushrooms, baked marrow, beef and powerful, hard cheese.
An exotic white Burgundy. This is Burgundy to have fun with, not mooch around looking for refinement or nuance. It’s exotic and peachy, there’s hazelnut (from the oak) and even a hint of cinnamon. It’s certainly moreish and 2014 was an epic vintage, especially for white wines from Burgundy. I’ve had this with herb roasted chicken and veal chops and loved every minute.
This is a ‘summer’ drink. Chilled and served in the evening before or after supper. That’s what Port producers do in overlooking the Douro after a hard, hot day in the vineyards. It brings a freshness to the dried fruits, wood spice and lightly honeyed style of the wine. This is an average of 30 years-old blending some younger, fruitier wines with older, spicier and more venerable barrels.
Some years ago I was allowed into a small cellar at Yalumba to try tiny stocks of century old wine, so concentrated it was served like Marmite on a spoon. And each year they release small amounts of ancient blends like this. Tawny, raisined, rich and spicy, this has a freshness too, a lift that makes it wonderful with cheese and some desserts. Experiment a bit, and you’ll get the feel for it. Really lovely wine.
Two things that may surprise you. I used to be 16 stone, and I drank this as part of my 6 stone weight-loss. Why? Because a small glass of PX (Pedro Ximenez) takes away a craving that you might fill with a cake. I kept this in the fridge and many evenings just polished off a meal with a small glass. Raisins, toffee, honey and cake all in a glass, coating the sides with an unctuous varnish. Gorgeous.
Let’s be honest here. This is the richest, stickiest, densest wine you’ll ever try. It’s essentially the sweetening wine for other sherries, but here you have it unadulterated. And I love it. Not a ‘wine’ so much as a pudding or a stylish alternative to Bailey’s. Some serve it over ice-cream but that seems wasteful. It does go with a rich cake. You really should try this once though just to taste the treacle, the figs, the prunes and baked raisins.
You know all that woolly, bland, almond-water Pinot Grigio you’ve been drinking? Well, stop. And try this. It still has the gentle fruit and the touch of honeyed sweetness to balance the apple, but with elegance and a properly focussed flavour. It’s an aperitif style of Pinot Grigio (see Lageder’s Dolomiti for a foodie wine) but it’ll match light salads and summer fish dishes – even a mild curry.
There’s something mystical about this blend of Grenache/Syrah/Carignan/Mourvedre and Cinsault. And that’s what Sir John Hegarty and Philippa Crane set out to achieve by using every biodynamic and natural technique to let their wine express the complexity of their soils. If John’s name sounds familiar, you’ve heard from him before. He’s the ad man who came up with ‘vorsprung durch technik’.
Like Pinot Noir? You’ll love St Laurent, a kissing cousin variety that’s popular in this part of Eastern Austria, overlooking the shallow Neusiedlersee that stretches into Hungary. Fruits of the forest, spice and supple tannins make it a slightly earthier cousin of Pinot Noir. Like Pinot Noir, serve it a little cooler than many reds to give the fruit a crunch with duck or roasted vegetables.
Get some of this in for a mid-week dinner and compare with Domaine Ferrand Pouilly Fuisse. Whilst Domaine Ferrand is ‘Le vin au feminin’ made by a mother and daughters, Bel Air is ‘a story of men’ made by 250 blokes. See if you can see a gender divide. This is the humbler wine, a solid, oak-free, citrusy white Burgundy made with traditional style. Serve like Chablis with light chicken dishes, shellfish or goats cheese.
‘Le vin au féminin’ is how Nadine Ferrand describes her estate. She believes that with her two daughters (Marine returned from the US to take a leading role here) the sensibility of the Ferrand women ‘brings a special touch’. It’s certainly elegant, with the tang of yellow plums rounded out by a buttery richness. This would work beautifully with muscular flatfish like halibut or turbot and a sauce.
If ever in doubt when describing white Burgundy go for ‘white flowers’. It’s a catch-all description that sounds impressively non-descript, and does actually sum up the non-exuberant florality of this wine without saying ‘non-exuberant florality’. Bigger houses like Louis Latour keep consistency up in poorer years like 2013 so we can still enjoy well-made, citrus and honeysuckle scented wines like this.
For all the talk of grand Montrachets and minute parcels of Premier Cru vines, this is the sort of wine that makes white Burgundy so popular. Full-bodied and ripe without being flouncy or exotic. They enjoy a year in (usually old) oak giving a hint of smoke and the ability to age for five years or so. A lighter vintage like this is best with fish (try a nice piece of hake) and samphire.
You have to buy carefully in 2013 with white Burgundy. It wasn’t a big year or an easy year. Only producers with the ability (and foresight) to really focus on quality did well. But that does mean value hunters can find that typical racy acidity Puligny that runs through a rich, straw and citrus heart. Hazelnuts are always the acme of a great white Burgundy and this is rich in them. Gorgeous.
Next door is the grand, foursquare Chateau Latour, whilst here in a great year (like 2008) you can enjoy similar plush fruit, big, soft tannins and the rounded character of 2008. True it’s a little (little) less magisterial than Chateau Latour. But also £450 cheaper. A big rib of beef for the next decade, a brace of grouse for the decade or so after that are the matches you’re after.
Would you like to open something with your young child when they graduate? Or grandchild? This epic wine has perhaps twenty five years of life. Today it is brooding and dark, all black fruit, oak and earthiness. In the next two decades it will evolve and flourish, becoming a multi-layered dream. Serve with people you really, really like.
Curate, kjʊ(ə)ˈreɪt/, verb; select, organize, and look after’.
That’s what the ‘producers’ of Rutherglen’s muscats do. They don’t produce these so much as inherit stocks of old, sticky wines scented with toffee and walnut, raisin and prune, cakes from Dundee to Eccles, and blend into small releases like this. Buy now to have something to warm you through winter. Serve it instead of a pudding or with a Christmas pudding. One of the world’s great wines.
Alois Lageder and his extensive family are ‘not winemakers’. He insists they look after the land and help wines through to birth like ‘midwives’. They also make Pinot Grigio like it should be. Aromatic, slightly spicy and with a heart of apple and a lingering smokiness. This is aromatic mountain wine from within the Dolomites (hence the name) and worthy of elegant light fish suppers and mountain cheeses.