3rd December: Wine recommendations from Oz Clarke & book giveaway
There comes a time when you know summer’s finally gone – for ever, it seems – a time when the whistling wind and belting rain make you admit that winter really is here – and a time when Christmas is now just too close to pretend that it’ll never arrive. It will. It always does. And you’ll need to have a well-stocked wine rack if you’re going to get the best out of it.
So I’ve chosen a tasty half dozen that should keep your spirits up even if your mum does knit you another sweater.
Pignoletto, Italy, Tesco, £7
Prosecco has been the party pop of choice for a few years now. But is it just me, or is it becoming a bit sweeter, a bit duller and a bit more expensive? In which case you need to crack open a bottle of Pignoletto – a foaming, frothing dry white cracker from near Bologna – a city known as Italy’s ‘belly’ because there ain’t nothin’ the locals don’t know about how to eat and drink.
Gusbourne Brut Reserve, 2010, England, Oddbins, £29
I grew up in Kent and used to ramble the fields near Appledore completely oblivious to the fact that its soils were quite remarkably suited to making sparkling wine as good as that of Champagne. I even nearly kissed a girl in Appledore once. That was much more important. And now Gusborne have come up with this stunning sparkler, pulsing with the fruit of ripe Kentish apples, sprinkled with spice and wrapped in a syrup-soaked fresh French brioche savouriness.
Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño, 2014, Spain,
If there’s one thing that shows the astonishing progress that Spanish wine has made in the last decade, it must be the thrilling quality of whites now coming from the wet, windy northwest coast of Galicia. This is where the Albariño grape makes Spain’s most tangy, scintillating whites, their pale dry apple fruit, tinged with orange peel and lemon flower, and their savoury texture making you wonder if the sea spray didn’t whistle through the vines and leave a splash of brine on the grapes themselves.
Cornelia Swartland White, 2015, South Africa, M&S, £10
My heart always beats a little faster when I see that a supermarket has persuaded a star winemaker to create an own label for them. Adi Badenhorst is wild, maverick and beardily regal, and holds sway in the ultra-trendy South African region of Swartland, specialising in the old ‘warm country’ vine varieties that South Africa should be more proud of. This is a mix of Chenin, Roussanne, Verdelho and Viognier, and it is a broad, waxy delight, tasting like nuts and peach stones squeezed with lemon and hurled into a slightly overbaked creamy rice pudding. Just what you’d expect from Adi.
Quinta de la Rosa ‘Douroso Tinto’, 2012, Portugal, Oddbins, £12
The Douro Valley stretches across the north of Portugal from the Spanish border to the sea and is one of the most captivating, memorably beautiful vineyards areas of the world. It’s famous for making big rich sweet fortified Port wines, but there’s a growing move to create dark, richly fruity and scented dry reds that I believe will become some of Europe’s classics. So get in early with this beauty from a single estate perched high over the glistening river that has a core of lush raspberry fruit shot through with rocks and dust then lifted by a fluttering floral scent. And a word of advice. If you visit – take the train. And sit on the right hand side.
Frares Priorat, 2014, Spain, M&S, £13
Priorat used to be one of Spain’s most forbidding red wines. Not surprising, as it came from ancient, gnarled vines clinging to precipitous slopes each yielding barely a handful of intensely concentrated grapes. Now things have eased up a little. The wines are still powerful, but there’s much more fruit and freshness. You can actually drink them for pleasure rather than merely to earn a badge. This one has deep, rich, ripe red fruit, serious weight on your palate, and it leaves a warm glow in your throat, but it makes your mouth water too, it’s appetising, and you’ll want a 2nd glass.
Win signed copies of The History of Wine in 100 Bottles & Oz Clarke Wine A-Z
We’ve got 10 bundles to give away, each consisting of 2 books signed by Oz! Click here to enter.
Don’t forget to check what’s behind door number 4 in the Pavilion Books advent calendar tomorrow!