Mtsvane is an ancient variety even in Georgia, often called the ‘cradle’ of viticulture. But only now are winemakers figuring out how to balance its exotic, honeysuckle and peach fruit with freshness. Experiment with intense aromas and tropical fruit – possibly roast chicken, possibly a fruity curry.
One of my favourite dishes is Masala fish – the spice infused in the fish and then cooked in a tandoori oven. Here’s the perfect wine to match it. Bright and grassy with a New World vibrant gooseberry fruit. It’s almost South African in style although perhaps with a hint of spice. Or is that just because I know it comes from India?
Limari is a name to look for in Chile. It’s a desert province to the north, with almost no rain but cooling Pacific breezes. In some ways similar to Marlborough in New Zealand it makes similarly fresh whites (and Pinot Noir). This has a distinct mineral crispness perfect for salads. If you like your Chardonnay bright, you’ll love this.
Matt (not Matt) chose a Vermentino from the monastery, and this is another fragrant, Vermentino from the south of Tuscany. Vermentino has a characteristic elderflower aroma with a palate that mixes citrus with savoury, the perfect balance to serve with baked fish, pasta with clams or even a fish pie.
Persan almost died out in France in the great Phylloxera blight of the nineteeth century, but now this rustic, plum and cranberry scented wine is enjoying a modest revival. It’s hearty rather than refined and all the better for it, making a fresh unoaked wine great for mid-week stews and rustic flavours.
Please promise me you’ll try this wine. It sparkles with electricity, a mix of sherried nuttiness and crackling tingly acidic spark. It’s ‘natural’ whatever that means today, but more importantly it’s captivating. Quite simply the best wine to match with rich, creamy, mountain cuisine. It’s life-affirming wine.
A wine that defies labels. Well other than beautiful and fascinating. Don’t be put off by the tag of a ‘savoury white’, it’s a wine with a salty purity. There’s fruit in a crystalline way, but it’s the walnut and iodine freshness that makes it so good with Comte Cheese, fondues and raclettes.
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.
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.
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.
Here is winemaking that matches bold ambition with results, a poised glass mixing stone fruit and tangy lemon with the softer spiced notes of very expensive barrels and careful work in the winery. The wine’s texture coats your palate and leaves a lingering perfume long after you swallow.
Boy is this good. It brings together a trinity of citrus and peach fruit, subtle nutty oak and a minerally tang. It’s an homage to the great white Burgundies, but with an unmistakable Australian vigour. I still cannot find a better match for this than a roast chicken with salad and rice.
I’ll declare an interest; Robert Hill-Smith was an early mentor of mine. But boy his winemakers produce angelic wines like this. Nectarine and white peach married to delicate nougat from time in barrels. Seriously classy Chardonnay needing great chicken or monkfish dishes.
Do you ever wonder what Sommeliers drink? It’s this. Intense aromas of apple, honey and flowers with a concentrated, fleshy palate. It’s a wine that makes you stop and think. Here you need a foil rather than a match, like cold roast pork or fish in a creamy sauce. Give this wine time to reveal itself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thai Curry or pan-Asian spices come alive with this beautifully fresh and limey gem. Don’t be afraid of the phrase ‘off-dry’ – it’s light sweetness that gives the wine’s fresh tang its balance. It’s vibrant, eager, generous and leaves a lovely prickle on your tongue.