Horse power: Mas Amiel and Maury

I find it rather therapeutic when I occasionally see horses being used in the vineyard, particularly in Europe where machine power has long been the norm. Some producers are reverting to using horses (or mules) in  Priorat in Spain and other regions where steep terraces makes the use of machines almost impossible. Horses have also been adopted by those practising biodynamic viticulture where using a tractor goes against the grain.

Mas Amiel* is the largest producer of sweet Maury wines in the Roussillon region in the far south of France. Here horses have been reintroduced to work in some of the estate’s oldest vineyards where vines, mostly Grenache, were first planted early last century. The reason for the move is to protect old vines: the roots of very old vines tend to be closer to the surface making them more vulnerable if a tractor is used so using horse power can be a better bet.

When I visited the region last month, two of Mas Amiel’s horses (including Angelo, pictured, top) were pulling ploughs by early morning. They are managed by a team of young vineyard workers, male and female, who have been encouraged to work in the vineyard by owner Olivier Decelle (pictured, below left).

The aim is to tease the best possible quality out of the vines for wines which, in some cases, are destined for ageing over many decades – Mas Amiel’s oldest current release is the 1969 Classic Maury.

When the harvest comes round, typically in early September, the vineyard team works closely with winemaker Nicolas Raffy to establish when each parcel is ready to be picked. For natural sweet wines, the grapes are fermented for 15-30 days in stainless steel tanks which are wider at the top than the bottom (unlike those typically seen for dry wine vinification these days where the reverse is the case) to encourage a wide and thin crust on the surface of the wine. The next step is to stop the fermentation as quickly as possible in order to capture as much aromatic character as possible and this is done by the addition of alcohol which breaks through the thin crust. Once fortified, the wines are aged according to the style desired.

Mas Amiel’s sweet wines are offered in three different styles:

 Sweet white wines

Muscat de Rivesaltes, 2010: This wine, the lightest of the Mas Amiel sweet wines, is made predominantly from the citrusy Muscat à petits grains with the richer Muscat de Alexandria adding richness and body. Try it with fruit tarts, fruit mousse and tropical fruit salads.

Sweet Red Wines: Maury Rouge

Made from Grenache Noir, these wines include:

Mas Amiel Vintage Maury, 2010: A delicious, youthful wine with rich summer fruit flavours.  This wine is a great introduction to the sweet Maury wine style and it pairs well with tiramisu.

Mas Amiel Vintage Charles Dupuy, 2008: A delightfully fresh wine with rich black fruit and long lasting flavour. Delicious with a chocolate dessert.

 Sweet Red Wines: oxidative wines

These wines are aged for a year in the open air in glass ‘bonbonne’ demijohns before long ageing in large traditional oak casks. Current releases include Cuvée Speciale 10 ans, a blend of Grenache (90%) with Carignan and Maccabeu. This complex wine offers a mixture of fruit and spice flavours. It also pairs well with chocolate as well as foie gras and blue cheese.

 To find these wines in the UK contact Bancroft, www.bancroftwines.com

 www.masamiel.fr

* Note: Mas Amiel also produces an impressive range of dry wines but only a limited selection is available in the UK to date.

 

 

Wines to impress at The Jugged Hare

Taxidermy, bone marrow, faggots, junket and traditional sherries from family producers… Yes, there are many traditional elements to The Jugged Hare, the latest addition to the ETM restaurant group. But new City pub also offers the group’s most ambitious wine list to date, so I was curious to give it a try.

Our visit, last Friday evening, got off to a good start. Having settled comfortably on a couple of bar stools in the lively bar area, we soon clapped eyes on a couple of sherries at the bottom of the wine list and a style to suit each of us. I chose the excellent bone dry Fino from Guitérrez Colosia (£3.30/75cl) while my partner, who prefers richer sherries, enjoyed the elegant, nutty ‘Gobernador Oloroso’ from Emilio Hidalgo (£4/75cl). Both were well chilled, just as these styles should be.

We moved through to the bistro-style dining area which features an eight-spit rotisserie for the preparation of many of the dishes on the menu; meat and game are sourced from rare breed and artisan producers while fish is selected daily from Billingsgate market.

After some deliberation – the menu is extensive – I chose a warm starter of Dorset crab claws (£12) while my partner opted for the air dried Welsh ham and celeriac (£8.50). Turning to the wine list, our waiter was keen for us to try a flight of German Rieslings featuring three different producers but somehow, after sherry, the moment wasn’t quite right. However, a glass of white from the northern Rhône – Domaine Courbis, Saint Joseph Blanc 2009 (£12) – was a mouth-watering prospect. A more complex and structured white such as this, which is a blend of the two Rhône grapes Marsanne and Roussanne, would be a good match for the crab, I hoped.

The buttery crab claws arrived piled high on a small cast iron plate and I got to work. They were meaty and delicious and the silky richness of the Domaine Courbis white complemented them perfectly – this was the most exciting food and wine match that I’d come across for some time. It was probably also the most indulgent and one glass was just right (thanks to the use of dispensing machines a selection of fine wines are available by the glass or carafe in prime condition).

Meanwhile my partner was also enjoying his ham and celeriac starter, with some envious glances my way.

For the main dish, meat seemed to be the way to go and the Chateaubriand steak, for two to share, had tempted us both (600g/£55).

A bottle of Pinot Noir, Sokol Blosser, Delinea 300, 2009 (£38), which hails from Oregon in the USA, was our choice for the main. A medium-bodied red, it proved to be a good choice for a warm evening and for the generous slices of meat, cooked slightly pink as requested with béarnaise sauce or rotisserie gravy to accompany it.

Dessert was tempting, but the two courses we chose were more than sufficient. I would have been tempted by the sea-buckthorn junket and a dessert wine. There’s plenty more to look forward to next time.

The Jugged Hare, 49 Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4SA

020 7614 0134;  www.thejuggedhare.com

ETM Group: www.etmgroup.co.uk

Wines for British asparagus

Asparagus is best enjoyed as fresh as possible and, although you can buy asparagus all year round from other origins, I firmly believe that nothing beats British asparagus to really appreciate this extraordinary vegetable. Finding a complementary wine to go with it, though a little challenging, is the icing on the cake.

The British asparagus season has got off to a bumpy start. A warm spell in late March encouraged the young shoots to bask in the sunshine and for a while things were looking good. But the more recent cooler temperatures and heavy rain have played havoc in some regions and nowhere more so that the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire where most British asparagus is produced in a more favourable year.

We can cross our fingers and hope that warmer, sunny weather encourages the ‘dormant’ crop to spring back to life. Meanwhile many larger retailers do have home-grown asparagus on their shelves – I’ve been buying asparagus from Kent and Suffolk to see how it works with different wines.

Cooking asparagus: Wash the spears and snap off the ends where they naturally break. I’ve found that asparagus keeps its flavour and crunch well if you barely cover the stems with water and boil for a few minutes until tender. Warm a serving dish before placing the spears into it and toss them and toss in good quality olive oil or melted butter, just enough to coat the asparagus. Sprinkle parmesan over the top and season. Some other asparagus dishes are mentioned below.

Extra tip: Before use, keep asparagus in the fridge and preferably in a jar of water.

Wine matches: Youthful, aromatic whites with enough character and structure to stand up to the intense flavour of asparagus work best. I think that whites with oak should be avoided and I haven’t found a rosé that works well with asparagus – the merest hint of red fruit seems to result in a clash.

Here are my recent discoveries and there are more to come:

1. Muscat Tradition, Domaine Albert Mann, 2011, 12.5%, £13.99, Alsace. Available from: Les Caves de Pyrene, www.lescaves.co.uk

The best match I’ve found so far. This dry Muscat has wonderful persistence and the classic elegance of this French region. A thoroughly enjoyable wine with asparagus, a touch of olive oil and topped with crispy bacon.

2. La Croix Belle, Caringole Blanc, 2011, Côtes de Thongue, France, 13%, £7.95. Available online at : www.stonevine.co.uk

This generously fruity Chardonnay/Sauvignon blend from the Languedoc region is ideal for a simple asparagus starter as described above.

3. La Croix Belle, Le Champ des Lys, Côtes de Thongue, 2010, 13.5%, £8.95. Available online at : www.stonevine.co.uk

A more structured white compared to its younger sibling with Grenache Blanc and Viognier giving it delicious apricot and peach fruit. Try it with an asparagus risotto.

4. Evolution 15, Sokol Blosser, Oregon (USA), 12.5%, £11.99. Available from: Les Caves de Pyrene, www.lescaves.co.uk

Talented winemaker Alex Sokol blends nine undisclosed grapes to make this excellent non-vintage white which is bursting with tropical fruit yet delightfully fresh and food friendly. Pair it with a warm chicken and asparagus salad.

5. La Báscula Catalan Eagle, 2011, Terra Alta, Spain, 13.5%, £9.99. Available from: Noel Young Wines; Highbury Vintners, D. Byrne & Co; Woodwinters Wines and Whiskies

A rich blend of Garnacha Blanca (Grenache Blanc), Viognier and Roussanne, this wine is made from organic grapes by South African winemaker Bruce Jack. A stunning modern Spanish white, the wine is a fine match for an asparagus starter and fuller flavoured fish dishes – try it with José Pizarro’s sea bass baked over anchovy potatoes which can be found in the Spanish chef’s latest recipe book ‘Spanish Flavours’.

6. Yealands Estate ‘S1’ Sauvignon Blanc, 2011, Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5%. Available from: M&S stores for £12.99 and online at: www.marksandspencer.com for £11.95.

A sophisticated Kiwi Sauvignon with intense herbaceous fruit and racy acidity – a classy food wine and excellent with asparagus.

7. Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc, 2011, Chile, 13.5%, £11.75

From vineyards close to the Pacific Ocean, there is lovely freshness here and delightful lime and green apple fruit. Ideal for asparagus, chicken, fish or simply just enjoying a glass outside on a warm summer evening. Available from: Berry Bros & Rudd: www.bbr.com (The same merchant also offers some excellent food-friendly New Zealand Sauvignons including Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2011, £14.95, and Isabel Estate, £13.95).

8.  Australian Chardonnay, 2011, 13%, £7.49

The generous fruit character of this Chardonnay and a slight buttery richness makes this wine another good candidate for asparagus and it offers great value for the price. Winemaker Brian Walsh has used fruit from the warmer Riverland and Barossa Valley regions and the cooler Adelaide Plains and, very discreetly, aged a small amount of the wine in oak. It works a treat. Available from M&S stores and online at www.marksandspencer.com

To find out more about British asparagus, where to find it and how to enjoy it go to: www.british-asparagus.co.uk

Wines for roast lamb

Wines for roast lamb… My partner’s mother, Françoise, is coming to visit and she’s kindly bringing a boned leg of lamb which I’ll stuff with garlic, rosemary and anchovies and roast on Easter Sunday. I’ll probably serve it with parmentier potatoes* and assorted vegetables. A bottle of fairly full flavoured red wine or two will be on the table for what promises to be a very long and leisurely family lunch. Here are my current favourites for roast meats and they will all go particularly well with lamb:

1. Chorey-Les-Beaune, Maison Bichot, 2009, £15, www.oddbins.com

A delightful, perfumed Pinot Noir from a Burgundy producer that has been raising its game of late.

2. Maycas Reserva Especial Pinot Noir, Limarí Valley, £11.95, www.thewinesociety.com

 The vines for this delicious Chilean Pinot Noir were planted only six years ago but the wine already shows elegance and structure. Its cherry fruit has been enhanced by partial ageing in new oak.

3. Prophets Rock Pinot Noir, Central Otago, 2009, £23.50, www.thewinesociety.com

Paul Pujol is the talented winemaker behind this classy Pinot which has the unmistakable character of New Zealand’s Central Otago and the finesse of its Burgundian cousins.

4. Vinkara Kalecik Karasi, 2009, £9.50, www.thewinesociety.com

From Turkey…The crunchy redcurrant fruit in this wine makes it ideal for spring and summer drinking. If you like Pinot Noir, you’ll like this wine. An pleasing discovery and what a bargain.

5. Syrah, L’Appel des Sereines, Domaine Villard, 2009, £11.50,  www.thewinesociety.com

A lovely ripe Syrah with restrained alcohol (12.5%) from a producer in the northern Rhône.

6. Altano Organic 2010, £9.99, www.waitrose.com

I first enjoyed this wine during a visit which coincided with the vintage in the Douro last autumn and was hosted by the Symington Family. Made from the same grapes that are used to make port – Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca – it’s a youthful, contemporary Portuguese table wine with fresh, juicy red fruit and a carefully judged 10 months in oak.

7. Gigondas Serabel 2010, £15, www.oddbins.com

Delightful forest fruits with hint of chocolate and lovely freshness. Good value from the southern Rhône.

8. Pétalos (Mencía) 2009, Descendientes de J Palacios, Bierzo, £16.80

Stockists: Upton Wines, Fortnum and Mason and Bailey’s Wine Merchants.

The freshness and great depth of carácter in a good Spanish Mencía wine makes it a great partner for lamb. If you haven’t come across Mencía yet and you’re keen to try something new then look no further.

9. Ch Ksara Réserve du Couvent 2009, £9.75, www.oddbins.com

Rich and opulent, this wine is one a number of Lebanese wines that can now be found in our wine shops and on supermarket shelves.

10. Baltasar Gracian VV 2009, £13.50, www.oddbins.com

 Made from old vine Garnacha from the Spanish region of Calatayud. Great flavour and excellent value for money.

* Cubed potatoes lightly fried and then roasted for around 30 minutes. Toss the potatoes regularly to avoid them sticking to the roasting tin and add a few sprigs of rosemary for extra flavour.

London’s Spanish fiesta

Sam Clark of Moro, an octopus and other gastronomic delights at the fiesta…

It was a pleasure to meet Sam Clark of Farringdon’s Moro & Morito restaurants last Thursday at Old Billingsgate. He was taking part in the annual Wines of Spain Consumer Tasting which offers some of the capital’s best Spanish food to accompany a wide range of the country’s wines.

Sam was chopping up a sizeable octopus for ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ which was served with rock salt, smoked paprika and Basilippo Arbequina olive oil. It was exquisitely tender – reminding me of the great seafood that I enjoyed when I lived in Galicia – and a good wine from the region, Albariño Pazo Barrantes 2010 from Marqués de Murrieta, was the obvious choice to go with it (www.mmdltd.co.uk).

Alongside fellow Moro chef Andy Haimes was preparing a tapa which takes inspiration from the south of Spain – ‘Chicharrones de Cádiz’ (wood roasted pork belly) – and, as a heady waft of the spice suggested, cumin was a key ingredient here.

Spice can be a bit tricky with red wines, especially oaky reds, so I opted for another white to go with this tapa – the deliciously fruity La Miranda Garnacha Blanca from Viñas del Vero in the northern region of Somontano (www.gonzalezbyass.com). It proved to be another great combination.

The Moro chefs had decided to keep things fairly simple but seeing the duo putting their dishes together at the table made great culinary theatre.

Several other restaurants were also taking part with their specialities. Brindisa’s Robert Castro prepared a ‘tostadita’ with roast vegetables, mackerel and romesco dressing and Camino’s Nacho del Campo served up an equally delicious equivalent with charcoal-grilled pepper, aubergine, spring onion and anchovy.

For something completely different I then headed to Ibérica’s table to taste the eclectic celery and seaweed panna cotta with apple and cucumber which refreshed the palate. I was then ready to enjoy some classic Spanish cold cuts with a red wine and I found River Café Sergi Arola’s lomo and chorizo delicious with the fine Rioja Contino Reserva 2006 (www.hatchmansfield.com).

Down at the end of the hall several tables were attracting a lot of interest, especially from those who know how well fine sherry and jamón go together.

Two of the UK’s ‘master carvers’– Chuse Valero and Zac Fingal-Rock Innes – were carving up wafer-thin slices of jamón to be enjoyed with something from the well stocked Sherry Bar. I found some of my favourite sherries here including I Think Manzanilla En Rama and La Bota de Manzanilla No 32 both produced by Equipo Navazos (available from The Sampler and Philglass & Swiggot) and Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana from Bodegas Hidalgo (www.mentzendorff.co.uk).

Thanks for the fiesta!

*Attracting nearly 400 people, this celebration of Spanish wine and food was hosted by Wines from Spain in collaboration with the publishers of Square Meal magazine. Guests paid £25.

For more information about Spanish wine go to: www.winesfromspainuk.com

All the Spanish restaurants mentioned here appear on www.squaremeal.co.uk

European wines are the sommelier’s favourite…

My latest feature in Eat.Drink magazine, published by The Drinks Business, explains why Europe offers a rich variety of food friendly wines, from well known classics to far more obscure grapes and wine styles. I talk to leading sommeliers and restaurateurs about their current favourites, how to serve them and what to eat with them. The feature can be seen in the ‘About’ section of the website. 

Wine and spice: Yalumba dinner at The Cinnamon Club…

Which are the best wines for spicy food? I joined a group of diners at The Cinnamon Club last Friday to pick up some tips.

The Cinnamon Club’s wine consultant, Laurent Chaniac, selected a colourful selection of top drops from South Australia’s Yalumba to accompany head chef Rakesh Ravindran Nair’s modern Indian cuisine.

Our aperitif was Janz Premium Cuvée Rosé, a Pinot Noir-dominant sparkling wine from Yalumba’s winery in Tasmania. Known as “Australia’s ice bucket”, Tasmania has a cool maritime climate and mountainous terrain making it an ideal place to grapes for fizz.

This sparkling rosé’s lively freshness and delicate red fruit worked a treat with a selection of canapés: lamb kebab in roomali bread, spiced prawn skewers on a mango coolis and tangy potato in a semolina shell.

At the table, we moved on to a more challenging match. Riesling is one of Australia’s specialities, particularly dry Riesling. Yalumba’s The Contours Riesling 2005 from the Eden Valley is both very dry (with a mere .5g per litre of residual sugar) and shows some mature fruit – the wine is released after five years in the bottle – but the wine’s zesty freshness is perfectly intact.

It was paired with a cold carpaccio of cured salmon, tandoori salmon and green pea relish. I felt that a slightly sweeter and more youthful Riesling might have complemented the tandoori salmon better. On the other hand, The Contours Riesling’s crisp acidity cut through the richness of the cured salmon; this combination was the clear winner for me.

The next courses all featured game, both feathered and four-legged varieties, giving the meal a seasonal touch. Tandoori partridge was served with The Virgilius Viognier 2008 which also comes from the Eden Valley. Yalumba has worked with this Rhône grape for nearly 30 years and its viticulturalists and winemakers have fine-tuned the style by letting the grapes ripen for longer to achieve richer peach and apricot flavours. The wine is aged on its lees for complexity and aged in mature oak barrels for just under a year.

This wine is also dry (2.1g of residual sugar) but the Viognier’s more overt fruit character matched the sweet spices of the tandoori partridge perfectly.

A main course of venison with poppy and coconut sauce and duck breast with saffron sauce was served with two Barossa Cabernet/Shiraz reds: The Signature 2005 and The Reserve 2001. Both wines are from good vintages and they have aged in oak for roughly the same time (22 and 20 months respectively). The Signature is matured in French, American and Hungarian oak and The Reserve exclusively in mostly new French oak. Both are fine wines but the more youthful of the two, The Signature, was my preferred choice for this dish.

The final pairing of the evening was an intriguing and delightful duo: Botrytis Riesling, Heggies Vineyard 2010 and shrikhand (Indian yoghurt) cheesecake with quince chutney. This sweet Riesling is made from vines located in an area of the Heggies Vineyard which is prone to autumn fog and humidity. These conditions encourage Botrytis (noble rot) to develop in the grapes which are left to ripen and shrivel well after the end of the main harvest – the intensely sweet berries were picked in the first half of June 2010. A light sweet wine (10% alcohol) this Riesling sees no oak and it has attractive citric and lychee fruit. It has all the criteria to match a gently spiced dessert.

I was curious to know more about the cheesecake – there seemed to be a hint of ginger which turns out to be cardamom. Rakesh has kindly sent me the recipe which is reproduced below.

With thanks to: Rakesh Ravindran Nair and the team at The Cinnamon Club and Jane Ferrari for both useful background on Yalumba and entertaining anecdotes.

www.yalumba.com

www.cinnamonclub.com

Shrikhand cheesecake with carom seed crumble

For the cheesecake

250g Greek yoghurt (hung in muslin overnight)

100g Mascarpone cheese

100ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks

50g sugar

½ tsp green cardamom powder

For the crumble:

250g flour

250g sugar

180g ground almonds

250g salted butter, diced

5g carom seeds

For the crumble base, mix all the ingredients till a homogeneous mixture is achieved. Spread on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and ‘crumble’.

For the cheesecake, fold all the ingredients together gently and chill.

To make up the cheesecake, place the crumble at the bottom of a dish or ring 2-3 cm thick. Fill the rest of the mould with the cheesecake mix and chill for a few hours before serving.

Serve with the cheesecake with a sweet chutney of your choice like quince chutney.

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 www.winesunfurled.com

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. www.ruta40.com