‘Profound’. ‘Extraordinary’. ‘Dynamic’. These are the words people use to describe ‘one of the greatest red wine vintages for a generation’. Savigny Les Beaunes from a great house like Jadot is always full and dense, and this shows both the cherry – that’s typical of the village – as well as the red fruit – that is typical of the vintage. Savigny has the power to work with beef as well as the fleshiness to complement roast game birds.
Sparkling Shiraz is exactly that. A deep red, lightly spicy sparkler. It’s also an Australian institution. Peter Lehmann is a Barossa institution too and he makes one of the best. It’s a bit confusing at first – yes it’s chilled and red, and a bit sweet, and fruity but not tannic… but just go with it. Australians love to serve this at barbecues and it does work well with burgers and spicy wings. But I love it most with a really good curry.
If you watch Episode Eight and do not try Lambrusco you are brain-dead with ghastliness. I spurn you with my toe. This is vivacious, eager and irrepressibly fruity. Absolutely… it’s a bit sweet and fizzy, that’s the point. But you must trust the people of Emilia-Romagna, who’ve spent centuries matching this to tortellini, pasta, salami, cheeses and antipasti. It’s gorgeous.
It’s hard to know where to begin. ‘Profoundly powerful’ say the Henschke family. And it is. Like many great wines, it’s not just the astonishing depth, complexity and quality. This wine oozes history. A single vineyard, named after a region in Silesia and shared with a Luthern Church. Making fruit so exceptional it defies description, but is packed with cherry, currant, black pepper, plum, cedar, liquorice, sage… This vintage is among the most highly rated wines in the world by experts today. If you get the chance to try it, you should.
I once asked two winemakers the difference between the adjacent Barossa and Eden Valleys. ‘I sleep under a sheet said the winemaker from the Barossa Valley. ‘She sleeps under a blanket.’ That cooler climate is perfect for Chardonnay, making for pristine white peach fruit, embraced by a stylish oak spice. Today it’s a seafood wine, but in a few years expect the richness to work with roast chicken.
For just under a tenner it’s hard to imagine much better value than this. Each of the four grapes here plays a part. Forget any monolithic stereotype of Aussie wine. Shiraz for substance, Grenache for flesh, Tempranillo for savoury fruit and Mourvedre for spice. Casseroles, lighter grills and even roasts. But I like it best with pizza.
I have a very good book on the Australian wine trade called ‘Why the French hate us’. And blends like this are part of the reason. Chardonnay (Burgundy) mixed with Sauvignon and Semillon (Bordeaux). Sacre Bleu! Yet in Australia it works, and has done for generations. Peach and nectarine Chardonnay, zippy grassiness from Sauvignon. I’d go pan-Asian with this, perhaps a Thai Green curry.
A ‘textbook’ wine. Anyone who wants to understand what makes Australian Shiraz special find it here. The confidence, the elegance and sheer quality. It mixes the things you’d expect like ripe currant fruit and chocolate aromas with things you don’t. Earthiness, gaminess and savoury spice. Yes, it’s an eminently steak-able wine, but be confident. That elegance makes this a versatile food matcher.
If you haven’t had this and a curry you haven’t lived. Sparkling reds are a proud Aussie tradition, often served at barbecues. But the combination of rich, ripe, dense fruit, supple tannins, spice and then balanced by refreshing fizz (served cool just like a Champagne) makes this perfect with a lamb rogan josh or vegetable curry. I take it to my favourite Bring-Your-Own curry restaurant in Bradford. A great night out.
Behind the almost Edwardian label on this wine is one of the region’s most innovative and experimental producers. They’re true to the wine’s roots, making this sweet (‘dolce’) rose. But this isn’t flibbertigibbet fizz, it’s great with roasted pork, (think apple sauce) and charcuterie.
The Greatest Sparkling Red Wine in the World. Well that’s pretty definitive. This Lambrusco is a masterclass, adding rosehip complexity to the strawberry fruit, made with great length and finesse. It has a vibrant flavour that matches the tortellini of the middle of Italy, as well as seafood and hams and salamis. You don’t often find the ‘greatest in the world’ at this sort of price. It’s a crime not to try it.
Whatever fizz you were going to serve at your next barbecue, don’t. Serve this instead. It’ll be more delicious with the food, you can tell jokes about Lambrusco in the 1970’s and everyone will think you’re a gastronomic genius. Fresh raspberry fruit, light fizz and then a freshness that actually works better with a hearty sausage than a light salad.
This is everything people love about Spanish reds; intense fruit, soft and voluptuous texture, the currant and cherry flavours mingling with oak spice and even a hint of chocolate. It’s so versatile too. Easy to enjoy on its own, spiced and textured enough even for beef grills, but better with lamb or even burgers. And at this price a mid-week treat too.
If you’ve not had a Gran Reserva Rioja, this is a great place to start. Top grapes from great vintages (like 2005) are left in oak and bottle for longer for Gran Reserva wines. It’s so they immediately give you elegant cherry and raspberry aromas, mingling with oak spice and a long, sweet finish. It’s a fragrant, lighter red, so don’t match with anything too punchy, perhaps a lamb salad with a light pomegranate molasses dressing.
Winemaking is a lengthy business, but Manuel Raventos took it a stage further when he had to plant a forest to de-salinate the soil before he could even plant a vine. ‘Raim’= grapes, ‘Ma’= hand in old Catalan, so he knew this was a promising site. And it is. With a core of currant and plum and a spiced finish, it’s perfect with lamb and tomato-based sauces.
This is organic, bio-dynamic, sustainable and vegan. Yep, not even any egg white, often used to clarify wine. Leaving a brightly fruity wine with cherry and forest fruit aromas and smooth tannins. Ironically the producers recommend it with ‘red meat, big or small game, sharp cheese’. As it’s vegan I’ll suggest squash and barley salad or Japanese Simmered Daikon with Bok Choy and Edamame.
Think of the things that make for great wines – classic varieties, old vines, historic regions, oak ageing… and then imagine them for about six quid. That’s this wine. Mature, complex strawberry and spice aromas and flavours, wonderful with a mid-week paella dotted with chorizo. Or a rich chicken casserole or pie. Mid-weight, ripe and delicious.
Expect elegant cherry and raspberry fruit in this supple, delicious wine. Les Cent Vignes is a vineyard just outside Beaune itself, alongside a cote or hillside of famous names like Les Greves and Clos-du-Roi. Premier Cru wines are bigger, richer and can cope with weightier dishes than their village counterparts. Lighter beef dishes, veal and even steak tartare are all good here.
Understanding Burgundy is hard work but like many challenging things, it’s worth the effort. Its vintages vary, but knowing 2011 is ready now helps. It has complex appellations, but then you discover a lowly Bourgogne Blanc made by a truly great winemaker like this in the style of much grander wines. That’s what gives this a subtle but persistent oak spice over lemon and melon fruit, perfect with roast chicken.
Among the raspberry and strawberry fruit and floral aromas you can taste the attention to detail in this lovely wine. It’s taken eight generations to become this good, and Vincent Mongeard even chooses the individual oak trees he uses for a local cooper to turn into his barrels. 2010 is a fresher, eager year and needs food with things like tomatoes to match the brightness.