It is a scientifically proven fact that every Friday afternoon the only subject the human mind can focus on is how much drink can be consumed that evening. To aid this mental endeavour, each week I publish reviews of several bottles of wine. The prices range widely but I will always include one bottle for that occasion when you have successfully negotiated a pay rise, and one for when those negotiations go so badly, security have to be called.
This Week's Wines
Palataia Pinot Noir 2011 – (£9.99 – M&S) – critics have been driven into a spittle-flecked frenzy by this German red that offers more bang for your buck than the most charming of Red Light district practitioners. Savoury rather than unsavoury.
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Ataware Valley Riesling 2011 – (£9.99 – Sainsbury’s) – expensive Rieslings are said to exude a flavour of petrol, so Jeremy Clarkson can keep all of those, leaving the more reasonably-priced bottles such as this apple and lime-secented Kiwi wonder for the rest of us.
Septimo Dia Chardonnay – (£9.49 – Wine Rack) - put on your Smiths albums, fish out your shoulder-padded jacket and roll back the decades to the mid-80’s with this retro Aussie-style barrel-fermented chardonnay – more oaky than a Human League convention.
Costa Sera 2007 – (£30 – Majestic) - send your children out to work so you can afford to buy this Italian thoroughbred from Masi. Such is its magnificence that the guilt of seeing them trudge through the door at 8pm, downtrodden and forlorn, will be assuaged the moment the first drop passes your lips.
Recommending a wine available only in Spain is a bit like explaining the delights of the new vintage of Dom Perignon to a park bench full of tramps (“a delightfully biscuit-y nose, don’t you agree? And such a sumptious mousse!”). On life’s who-gives-a-f***-ometer, what we’ll be drinking on our summer holidays is mere trivia when compared to our need to shave seconds off the front door to fridge time every evening. However there are those well-organized types who have already mentally packed the beach towels and also fished out the Bullworker from the attic; the men so they can reduce the size of their love-handles in case they get lucky; the women to build up their arm muscles in order to wield their 10-foot bargepoles more confidently . For these people, forewarned is forearmed (quite literally in the ladies case), so here’s a bottle to look forward to getting stuck in to. Brimming with a refined mix of blueberries, blackberries and vanilla, this Mallorcan Crianza is the perfect bottle to help stimulate a little poolside romance, or more likely, to be used as a filip to cheer you up after you’ve discovered that, whilst you were asleep on the beach, your holiday pals superglued a massive vibrator to your forehead.
Serious Bit – Mallorcan-based winery Jose L Ferrer was established in 1931 in the central Binissalem region of the island. This bottle is made from 50% local Mantonegro grape and a blend of international varieties, before being aged for 12 months in American oak barrels.
Jacob’s Creek Moscato (£5.99 – Tesco) - who knew that Azealea Banks and her Rap Pack pals would enjoy kicking back with this simple frizz-mix of lemon bon bons and fresh apples? It’s a cupid’s arrow straight through shawty’s heart.
Gabo do Xil Godello, Valdeorras 2010 (£8.95 – The Wine Society) – the Brits have an apparent fondness for wines with unpronounceable names so why not line up 8 pints of Stella and then try saying the name of this fruitilicious Spanish white made from the obscure-but-soon-to-be-as-big-as-Kate-Moss Godello grape.
Benjamin Darnoult Picpoul de Pinet 2011 (£9.99 – Naked Wines) – one sip of this sophisticated, precise white and you will be transported to a seafront villa on the Cote D’Azur where you can enjoy the charming company of David Niven, Peter Ustinov and other loveable rogues, before eventually floating back to the reality of an overflowing cat litter tray and mountain of ironing.
The Society’s Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon – (£6.50 – The Wine Society) – Cabernet Sauvignon at this price is often better used for hosing down farm machinery but those Wine Society devils have found a blackberry-filled beauty at a bank manager pleasing price.
Pizzaras De Otero 2010 Bierzo, Spain (£6.99 if you buy 2, otherwise £8.74 – Majestic) – if the thought of another Rioja cannot rouse you from your default Easter position of sofa-humping semi-consciousness then try this smokey, cherry-ish red from the wilds of Bierzo (North Eastern Spain, fact-lovers!).
Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir 2010 (£13.99 if you buy two, otherwise £16.99 – Majestic) - this pure, plummy New Zealand Pinot Noir is dazzling enough to bring you such pleasure that it will drown out the conversation of even the most irritating of Sunday lunch guests.
The arrival of clement weather is normally reason enough to trigger both a mad rush to locate your micro-shorts, as well as a craving to drink an amount of white wine sufficient to wash a vast herd of elephants. However it would be wise to treat these desires with caution, as not only might you find that, due to winter pie intake, you can no longer hoist said shorts above thigh level, but also that a constant flow of mind-numbingly average Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio can extinguish the appetite of even the thirstiest of punters. Help may soon be at hand on the latter front though, as wine fashionistas are tipping ice cool Pinot Blanc as the next grape to capture our hearts and mouths. This super-fresh style makes for an exciting glassful and the examples from the Baden-based Keller winery in Germany are some of the finest. Their entry-level Weissburgunder is full to bursting with a whole orchard of ripe Granny Smiths, softened by back notes of honey and citrus. Bottles like this have instant appeal and could easily be embraced by the public, not something that will happen to you if you choose to go out of your house wearing those ill-fitting shorts.
Serious Bit – Up until his death in 2007, Franz Keller was regarded as one of Germany’s most prestigious winemakers. Pioneering the concept of fully-fermented dry wines and the use of barriques, Keller set a number of benchmarks for German wine. This Pinot Blanc is a simple evocation of his approach and is best paired with straight-off-the-boat fish.
If you were to ask any comedian, Premiership striker or porn star what aspect of their performance they spent most of their lives perfecting, they would all offer the same answer – timing. Whether delivering a witty punchline, rising at the far post to head in a corner or simply mastering the art of “calling down for more mayo”, this skill is vital to their success. Better timing can also improve our appreciation of wine, particularly when establishing the optimum moment to open the drinking window. On this issue there are conflicting viewpoints – most blue-blooded aristos choose to enhance their morning bowl of Coco Pops with vintage champagne, whilst the advertising industry see elevenses as the opportunity to arouse their slumbering creative minds via a quick livener. Fleet Street has long sworn by the unbridled thrill of the lunchtime carafe, and of course there will be few of us who have not wandered into the pub for an afternoon quickie only to end up losing the next 12 hours to a screaming bender. For the majority of grindstone-worshippers though, the ideal time is the nano-second after clocking off. Tradition has long dictated that this sacred juncture should be commemorated by an enormo-glass of white, so here’s an off-the-clock bottle to try. Peachy, spicy and with a hint of violet, this will be swiftly consumed, leaving you with only one timing issue – how you are going to manage crawling out of bed the following morning to get into work.
Serious Bit – Although vines were first planted on the site of the Bellingham farm in 1693, it is only in the last 40 years that the production of wine here has become a serious and successful operation. The fruit (100% Viognier) for this bottle is fermented naturally before spending a year maturing in French oak.