Wine Filter: Series 1

Rioja Reserva Bodegas Ondarre 2010

The Bodegas Ondarre was established in 1986. It’s named after an old, nearby mansion that belongs to the founding family and is situated in the historical village of Viana, just eight kilometres from Logroño, which is the capital city of the Rioja region. Bodegas Ondarre is a highly respected, award-winning winery that specialises in reservas wines and Cava – in fact, they only produce Reservas and Cava here so production is limited to a few bottles a year.

This wine is such a perfect example of Rioja Reserva, but is also such a balanced wine (although it sure is quite high in alcohol). The flavours are great and the length on the palate is superb. This is THE perfect wine for your Sunday roast, particularly with lamb; a bit of a classic, but an oh so perfect match. Honestly it’s no wonder this wine is constantly being rewarded by every competition it’s entered in to; it’s just perfect!

Carmenere, De Martino 2015

Maipo Valley is one of Chile’s most important wine-producing regions. Located just south of the capital, Santiago, Maipo Valley is home to some of the country’s most prestigious wines. It is often described as the ‘Bordeaux of South America’.

Carmenere is a dark-skinned grape variety originally from the vineyards of Bordeaux, which has found a particularly suitable home in Chile. A late-ripening variety, Carmenere needs high levels of sunshine and a warm summer to reach its full potential, but in the right environment it can produce fine, deeply coloured red wines, with the attractive meaty plumpness of Merlot and the gently herbaceous notes of Cabernet Sauvignon.

A warm wine with lots of fresh black fruit, it’s well balanced and contains hints of tobacco and vanilla flavours.

Benufet, Herencia Altés 2011

Situated South of Barcelona, near the city of Tarragona, Herencia Altes is a small family estate that produces just 5 wines. Everything is done in the vineyard and winery to enhance the quality of the finished wine, including early harvesting to preserve the acidity of particular parcels planned for blending, through very gentle vertical pressing and judicious oaking and lees ageing. The resultant wines are rich, aromatic and fruit-driven and show the best side of both white and red Garnacha.

The vineyards that produce the Garnacha Blanca grapes for this delicious wine come from vineyards that are 450 metres above sea level: here the grapes are cooled by mountain and sea breezes prolonging the ripening period. Gently pressed, the juice was fermented at low temperatures and the wine spends two months on fine lees to gain texture and complexity. Aromatic, the wine shows floral notes and white fruit such as melon; the finish is long and fresh.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on this great white, we just wish we could have got more. It’s really up there in the world of white wine!

Balbium, Terre di Balbia 2011

The wine is made entirely from Magliocco; an ancient red grape variety grown exclusively in the southern Italian region of Calabria. It is often confused with Gaglioppo – Calabria’s principal red grape – with which it has a great deal in common. The two varieties look similar in the vineyard and both produce high-alcohol wines with soft, red-fruit flavours. Magliocco’s grapes, however, have been lightly dried to give a concentrated, rich, luscious red wine that has wonderfully velvety tannins and a beautiful intensity.

Fish Hoek Chenin Blanc 2014

Consistently good value, you can’t go wrong with half a dozen bottles of this in your house for a mid-week glass after a hard day. South Africa means new world fruit of quince and apple, mixed with old world restraint, freshness and an elegant lift. A great wine with fish, a lovely wine with chicken and delicious wine on its own with a recorded episode of The Wine Show. Where you’ll probably learn that the glass seal on the bottle is called a ‘prunt’.

Septima Malbec 2014

Sometimes it’s good to go unashamedly for the acme, the classic, the classic example of the style. This is a plush, ripe, currant and vanilla-scented Argentine Malbec made for juicy steaks and… juicy steaks. They say Argentines eat their average body-weight in meat each year, mostly steak. And this is what they drink while they do it. Go Gaucho. Go Malbec.

Orto Venezia 2011

Orto is part of a small (but growing) movement to bring winemaking back to the Venetian archipelago. It’s a blend of Vermentino, Fiano and Malvasia grown on the island of Sant’Erasmo and the producers are experimenting with ageing bottles under the lagoon to create complexity without nuttiness. Fresh, aromatic and slightly savoury, it’s perfect with shellfish dishes.

Notturno Dei Calanchi 2011

Let’s be clear, this is a wine that shouldn’t exist. Pinot Noir doesn’t grow easily anywhere. But especially not somewhere like balmy Orvieto/Lazio. How do we get this ripe, elegant red with red and forest fruits? By being high up and on freshness-inducing volcanic soil. This is so good with duck (we had this whilst filming) and beef, but also works with Pork and ratatouille.

Grek Palazzone Grechetto 2014

For years this interesting, slightly nutty grape has been hidden in the traditional Orvieto blend. But now people want to let it sing on its own. It’s taken some work as this is a full-flavoured variety and with a slightly bitter twist at the end, but that actually makes it a perfect food-matching variety. Keep the food simple, but go with roast chicken or firm-fleshed fish.

Fontanasanta Nosiola 2013

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 Morei 2013

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.

Nyetimber Blanc De Blancs Sparkling 2007

Vintage sparkling wines are less a reflection of the house style than the vintage. 2007 wouldn’t strike you as an auspicious year – floods in June and July led to one of the biggest rescue efforts in peacetime Britain. But by October the fruit was ripe enough to make this delicious apple and brioche scented wine. It’s evolving into a complex and multi-layered treat now. Enjoy with fine fish and even white meat dishes, like a sparkling white Burgundy. You won’t regret it.

Jansz Rose Non-Vintage

I have to say, I do love this wine. It’s brave and confident and doesn’t try to mimic pink wines from elsewhere. Instead this is a rose-scented pink wine with a heart of ripe strawberry fruit. It has the mouth-filling perfume of a great fizz, but doesn’t expect you to go looking for aromas and flavours. It delivers them to you. Delicious.

Dalrymple Cottage Block Pinot Noir 2012

Pinot Noir isn’t known as the ‘heartbreak grape’ for nothing. It breaks even the best winemakers as they try to find a site with the soil, climate and consistency to make it work. But it’s found a home in Tasmania where wines like this emerge, suffused with cherry and raspberry and spice. This is best with duck or lamb, and don’t be afraid of giving it plenty of flavour to match its fruit either.

Dalrymple Estate Chardonnay 2011

Many years ago I discussed climate change with Robert Hill-Smith at Yalumba in the Barossa and he talked about the importance of Tasmania in finding a cool site. And this is it. Making elegant, cool, linear chardonnay with citrus aromas, refined acidity and a lingering minerality on the palate. Match with food like a Chablis or Macon.

Balfour Brut Rose 2010

Hush Heath definitely contends as England’s finest rose fizz producer and for much of its life, that was all they did. The rich aromas of strawberries and currants are complemented by wild flowers and spice. The character of Pinot Noir shines through, from one of Kent’s most famous vineyards. I love this with food. I even had it once (deliciously) with a traditional pork pie.

St Germain Hugo Cocktail

Take two parts Prosecco, one part St Germain and one part sparkling water, add some lightly bruised mint leaves. This is the ‘Hugo’, possibly one of the most refreshing, herbal and summery cocktails ever invented. It’s also impossibly easy to make. One minor note, this was invented in the Tyrolean mountains in Italy, so it’s properly pronounced ‘Ugo’.

Bellini Cocktail

Take two parts Prosecco and one part white peach pure. Some time (it’s disputed) in the 1930s or 1940s, Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, invented the Bellini. He named it the Bellini because its pink color reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini (one of three Bellini artists).

Negroni with Antica

Take one part gin, one part Antica vermouth, and one part Campari and garnis with orange peel. The Negroni lends itself to tweaks and variations, especially with the vermouth at the heart of the cocktail. More or less ‘amaro’ or bitter, the choice is ours. The drink gets its name from Count Camillo Negroni who asked his bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water.

Aperol Spritz

Take three parts Prosecco, one part Aperol and a dash of soda water and you have Italy’s most popular aperitif drink. It’s more than just an orangey mixer, as the characteristically Italian bitter orange and orange peel notes give the drink a real lift.