Wine Filter: Episode 4

Benedict and Stephane Tissot Les Gravieres Chardonnay 2012

We often hear people say they’re not keen on Chardonnay, yet it’s like Plasticine; it takes the shape the winemaker gives it. Here it’s balletic and graceful, with quince and acacia aromas, restrained but lingering. Take the plainest fish, cook it simply so that this wine can be the star of the show. It’s beautiful.

Marchesi Mazzei Belguardo Vermentino 2014

Over lunch with the current Marquis Mazzei the aristocrat proudly declared his family had ‘never owned a brick’ in nearby Sienna. This Florentine family make Chianti Classico and supple, generous whites like this, that matches opulent, white peach fruit with mineral freshness. Great with seafood stews and risotto.

Fattoria dei Barbi Vin Santo DOC 2009

A traditional wine with traditional production. This is made with a splash of Sangiovese for an ‘eye of the Partridge’ or “Occhio di Pernice” colour. Its fermented with a Madre, mother yeast, kept alive year to year. And we enjoy candied fruit, raisins, honey, nuts and a vibrant background of tangy orange. Serve with… friends.

Bonacchi Vin Santo del Chianti 2006

From the name ‘Holy Wine’ to its historic use in Catholic Mass to the cruciform on every barrel, this is wine intimately linked to the Church. It’s a distinct style too, slightly toffeeish and nutty, its sweetness balanced by sherried notes. Have it the traditional way, with cantucci biscuits to dip in the wine.

A Mano Aleatico Di Puglia Passito 2010

I think this is the wine Goldilocks would have chosen; sweet but not too sweet. It’s a red pud wine, concentrated with flavours of cherry and dried cranberries. There are herbal touches too, but it’s only half as sweet as many classic dessert wines. It’s beautiful with chocolate puddings or even fruit.

Cascina Castlet Avie’ Moscato Passito DOC 2008

“Like gold to airy thinness beat”, the poet John Donne would have enjoyed the colour of this wine. From Sicily to the far north of Italy, here in Asti, families make sweet muscat to enjoy in the winter with flavours of raisins, banana, honey and nuts. Bake an apple, stuffed with raisins and muscovado sugar and serve with plenty of cream and this.

Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOCG 2007

A rare wine, from a rare variety in a rare style. This is Sagrantino, one of the darkest, most tannic varieties in the world, concentrated to a lacquer-like confection of blueberry and raisin unctuousness. One of the very rare wines to go with chocolate, but my favourite combination is with runny blue cheese.

Planeta Passito di Noto 2013

Some say this corner of Southern Sicily is the original home of Moscato. So it’s apt this wine preserves the grape’s light floral fragrance, and the grapeyness (ironically unusual in a wine) of flavour. This is the lighter end of sweet wines, still fresh and lifted, perfect with pastries and sponge cake.

Boschendal Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rose Non Vintage

Boschendal is a piece of South African history, a working farm since 1685. Today it’s known for making one of the best sparkling wines in the world, this pale-pink fizz with raspberry and red apple fruit. There’s a mouth-filling creamy mousse and biscuit complexity. It’s a gorgeous summer treat.

Graham Beck, The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Every day Gerswin van Rooy defends this Cabernet Sauvignon from marauding raids by baboons. And you can see why they want to get it. Juicy, ripe and lush currant and blackberry fruit with pliable tannins. A great wine to have with pasta dishes and richly flavoured moussaka.

Graham Beck, The Game Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014

The wheeling Fish Eagle on the label is a clue to the relationship between this wine and its ecosystem. In the bottle it’s a classic South African Sauvignon with tropical New World fruit and Old World, green pepper zip. Don’t be afraid to match this up to some fruity, spicy fish dishes as there’s plenty of matching flavour.

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling NV

Got a celebration coming up? Exam success, an engagement…? Perhaps becoming President of a newly-emancipated South Africa? Or Presidential candidate in the USA? Graham Beck has made wines to toast them all. Glorious drinking with lemon-lime zippy fruit and nutty, complex, lingering finish.

The Wine-Farer Series Chenin Viognier 2013

Imagine starting not with a grape, nor a place but simply a taste. Then work back. This wine began with the idea to make a bright, fresh white with passion fruit juiciness perfect for modern, flavoursome salads and fish dishes. Mix vibrant Chenin Blanc, exotic Viognier and South African knowhow and out pops this beauty.

Moscato Passito, Cantine Viola

In the love ‘em or hate ‘em world of pudding wines I love this as much as Matthew Rhys… struggles. Unashamedly rich, mahogany palate-lacquer of raisins, fruit cake and sweet nuts. I’d happily have this instead of a pudding, or perhaps with a few pastries, nuts and a very short espresso.

Vermentino, Abbazia Di Monte Oliveto Maggiore 2014

In the middle ages the monks here were allowed up to a bottle or so of this a day after their work. Today they make this Vermentino in a fresh, lightly-spiced style with a hint of pear fruit. Perfect with shellfish and seafood and apt too – the monks gave up meat as a sign of purity.

Grance Senesi Rosso 2013

I like to serve this as a ‘House Wine Plus’, a ‘Vino della Casa’. It’s a juicy, bouncy, fruity mid-week gem with lots of cheery and cherry fruit and a light hint of herbs and no oak. Great with pasta dishes, complementing rather than competing for flavour. Crack it open for a mid-week dinner with friends.

Domaine de l’Idylle Savoie Cuvée l’Orangerie 2015

The first duty of wine is to be refreshing, and here’s an unchampioned treasure that does just that. Floral, fragrant and as cool as the mountain air where it grows. It’s the perfect aperitif wine, but also provides a neutral backdrop to all that mountain cheese. If you don’t want cheese, go summer salad.

Château Chalon Jean Macle 1990

A wine legend made in the ‘Vin Jaune’ style, evolving nutty, savoury aromas during at least six years and three months in barrels under a film of special yeast. This is one of the best estates, known for wines of great finesse. Locally people match this with chicken but I love it with stinky cheese.