Slovenia Sauvignon

A classy Sauvignon Blanc for the Indian summer…It may be unusually hot in many parts of Europe for picking grapes and making wine – some of the producers that I’m talking to say that it’s a challenging year – but here in England the lovely warm autumn days are compensating for a dreary August. So I’m holding on more wintry food in favour of lighter dishes and wines to go with them. Slovenia’s wines are just the ticket for this time of year.

The country’s wines are becoming easier to find here in the UK and I’ve been impressed by many that I have tasted over the last year or two. Most of Slovenia’s wines are white and the styles are generally very pure, fresh, lively and distinctly European in style with similarities to Italy’s Friuli wines in the Mediterranean west and Austria’s whites to the north-east of the country.

One that I’d like to recommend is the Sauvignon Blanc from Puklavec & Friends, a modern winery located in Stajerska in the Podravje wine region bordering Austria. Here the continental climate is ideal for growing a wide variety of grapes including the local grape Sipon (Furmint), Laski Rizling (Welschriesling) and Sylvaner as well as Sauvignon.

Puklavec’s Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 vintage, is a wonderfully aromatic, zesty Sauvignon with enough structure to complement food. This wine makes a good aperitif – ideally with some smoked salmon blinis – but it’s also a great match for many simple fish-based dishes. Try it with linguine (or similar pasta), prawns, olive oil, thinly sliced courgettes and a teaspoon of chopped dill. Enjoy! I’m off to have lunch in the garden…

Find this wine at: Waitrose (£8.99) and

Gazpacho and Sherry make a great match

Gazpacho and Sherry make a great match… On my recent visit to Jerez temperatures were well over 35˚C. This was fine if I was visiting a producer and tasting Sherry in a the cool surroundings of a bodega – the sandy floors are irrigated more frequently in the summer months to maintain the required humidity level.

I would emerge into blazing sunshine and the hot westerly Poniente wind determined to walk to the next bodega and take in the sights of Jerez. By lunch time – that means 2-3pm in this part of the world – there was only one thing that I wanted: a glass of perfectly chilled gazpacho.

Back in London I don’t make gazpacho very often as all the ingredients need to be in season, especially tomatoes which should be ripe and flavoursome. I also get inspired to make it when we get some really good weather…

 Most gazpacho recipes include white bread but I prefer to leave it out. I also use red peppers rather than green for colour and taste. Try this:

 1kg ripe tomatoes roughly chopped

1 red pepper with seeds and core removed, chopped

¾ cucumber, peeled and sliced

½ medium onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2-3 dessertspoons of Sherry or red wine vinegar

4 dessertspoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Blend the mixture in a liquidiser (in two lots if necessary) and then return it to the bowl. Sieve to achieve a smooth texture. Cover the gazpacho and chill well before serving. Garnish with chopped chives or a couple of leaves of basil if desired. Gazpacho will remain fresh for a few days if kept refrigerated.

 Lighter Sherries –  Finos and Manzanillas –  make an ideal match for gazpacho thanks to their bone dry freshness and  low acidity. Any of the following Sherries, served well chilled, will complement the dish well:

 Manzanillas from coastal Sanlúcar de Barrameda:

 La Gitana, Bodegas Hidalgo-La Guitana

La Goya, Delgado Zuleta

 Finos from Jerez and el Puerto:

 El Maestro Sierra Fino

La Bota de Fino (Bota No 18), Equipo Navazos

La Ina, Lustau

La Panesa Especial Fino, Emilio Hidalgo

Fernando de Castilla Fino Antique

Gutiérrez Colosía Fino

Tio Pepe and Tio Pepe en Rama, González Byass





Malbec for summer

Tempus Malbec, wine of the week and a lovely birthday wine…

I don’t generally think of opening an Argentinian red on a warm summer evening; many reds from the country pack a punch with their high extraction and alcohol levels hitting a heady 14˚ or more.

However, I was tempted by rack of lamb for my birthday dinner and you need a red wine with strong character to match its richness. Tempus Malbec 2008 from Bodega Tempus Alba in Maipú, Mendoza seemed like a good idea after all.

This wine was delightful. There was something restrained about its style – perhaps accounted for by the maturity of the 60-year-old vineyards – giving it an elegance that you don’t often find in a varietal Malbec wine. The fruit quality was excellent, tannins were supple gently supported by the French and American oak and the alcohol was perfectly in tune. All the elements came together in a wine that lingered on the palate and complemented the roast rack of lamb perfectly.

Tempus Malbec is available through Argentinian boutique Wine specialist Ruta 40, price £16.