It has been said that there are more soil types in the Napa Valley than in the whole of France. So although Napa Cabernet is ubiquitous, it flexes and changes along the valley and into the hills. Here it’s lush with currants and cherries, but there are notes of star anise and cloves, match it with slow-roasted beef.
This wine is literally a fiasco. Well, it comes in one. The straw-wrapped bottle is a ‘fiasco’ and brings the charm of an Italian trattoria to your kitchen table. Alongside the fruity aromas of cherry and plum in a mid-weight wine. It’s great with tomato-based dishes, long-cooked pasta sauces and veal.
If you are looking for something to match up with the earthy, savoury flavours of rich mushroom ravioli or a Tuscan bean stew, this is your perfect partner. Strawberry freshness matches up with the softer, warmer aromas of plum and richness of cherry. It leaves a beautiful long finish that lingers on your palate.
This wonderful estate found greatness when the owner’s son-in-law, Giuseppe Mazzocolin, left his post teaching Latin and Greek to come and improve the estate. It makes an intense and concentrated Chianti Classico with cherries and herbal complexity. Today, Giuseppe still quotes Horace in the vineyards, but with a glass of wonderful wine.
Standing with Francesco Mazzei of this ancient estate we looked to Siena, a city where his family ‘have never owned a brick’ with a proud Florentine flourish. This is a glossy, stylish, currant-infused Chianti Classico, perfect for a vast Fiorentina steak. Don’t rush it, and even decant an hour or so beforehand to let it open up.
If the first duty of wine is to be refreshing, then 2011 white Burgundy hits the spot. Lemon aromas, light alcohol and well-integrated oak are the hallmarks of the wine and it works better with lighter dishes, plain grilled fish, and delicate flavours. There’s still the racy freshness of Puligny, but with restraint.
Why do people love Meursault so much (particularly compared to its neighbours Puligny- and Chassagne-Montrachet)? Perhaps the guilty pleasure of exotic fruit, like the peach and pineapple in this wine and the rich, almost buttered toast finish that makes it so good with roast poultry and fish in beurre blanc.
Burgundy is a vintage where vintage really matters and 2010 is a vintage to snap up. A Meursault like this should be rich and generous, and 2010 gives is the proportions of a proper white Burgundy. It’s ready now for white meat dishes (Burgundians often serve turkey) and richer sauces.
The phrase to drop in when you’re trying Puligny-Montrachet is that it has a ‘racy acidity’. It’s that bright, mineral, lemon-fresh character that makes the wines so appealing, balanced by nutty oak. Beautifully done here by Pierre Naigeon, a fifth generation winemaker, producing a wine infused with bergamot and apricot scents.
Berries, pepper and violet come through this well-made Shiraz that shows the very particular place of Ancient World wines. There’s the expressive fruit of California-trained winemakers, but also an earthy, herbal complexity that’s very European. It also makes it beautiful with rich stews and Mediterranean spice.
The ancient world gives us the most exciting new frontiers of winemaking. Turkey is among the most exciting with around 1000 native varieties like these two Öküzgözü (“ox’ eye”) and Boğazkere (“throat burner”). Don’t be put off, they make a hearty, berry and cocoa infused red that complements venison.
This is a clever way of enjoying the winemaking expertise of Hubert de Boüard without spending £350 on his Chateau Angelus. It has similar depth, a silky texture and rich concentration. And the high altitude vineyards of Lebanon create a wonderful terroir. This is firmly Roast Lamb terrirtory.
The name gives it away, but even so, it’s surprising to think of this wine grown a thousand metres up in the mountains. Here, the Mediterranean warmth becomes ski-resort cool at night giving this wine real verve and bright spice. It’s like a Bordeaux with Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s warm and earthy charm. And delicious.
Anyone looking for the perfect steak-chips- wine combo should head here. The blend of ripe currants and vanilla, oaky spice is delicious, whilst there is a good heft of ripe tannin to work with your (ideally, rare) steak. On the finish look for all the mocha, coconut and vanilla aromas from the barrels as the evolve.
A great bottle of Burgundy and a hunk of cheese (in this case, Comte) is one of life’s great pleasures. 2013 is a Cinderella vintage that initially looked rather humble and has blossomed into a bright, fragrant princess. Look for a core of quince fruit with hazelnutty oak, the hallmark of true quality in white Chardonnay.
Not New or Old World wine, but Ancient World wine. The cradle of viticulture now makes modern, sleek wines enjoying the consistent warmth of summer days and cool refreshment of vineyards reaching 1,200m high. Concentrated cassis, earthiness and meaty, savoury notes linger on the palate.
It’s not the unique Cabernet Sauvignon blend that makes this special, or even coming from the Bekaa Valley. It’s Musar’s unique smokey, pungent twist on the cassis and currants of Cabernet; the added cigar box and prune aromas. One of the world’s great wines, thriving in a sometime war zone.
If you’re lucky enough to ask for this remember to drawl your consonants in the Burgundian manner; ‘batarr mohn-rash-eh’. Then enjoy the mix of delicate aromas that change with every sip and a palate that mixes bright citrus with rich vanilla custard. Match with a simple white meat dish to let the wine do the talking.
There’s artistry on this wine’s labels – even if the Matts’ were a little basic. And artistry in the Michelangelo-owned history and the statuary filled vineyards. But also artistry in the deft winemaking, the palate a dense palette of cherry fruit, confident tannins and aromas picked out with violet, herbs and mature oak.
Olivia Brion was a 19th century French-Anglo suffragette, athlete and bicycle fiend, who out-raced a train and revealed saucy correspondence from great men of the age. The wine is an homage to her and mixes vibrant, lush red fruit with an earthier mix of mushroom and tea, all wrapped in velveteen tannins.