Variety seems to be the spice of life in the merry month of May, judging from the latest wines I’ve been invited to taste.
They included a claret, a sauvignon blanc, a beef-friendly red wine from South America, and an unusual dry white aperitif port, first introduced by the producers – leading lights in the world of port – in 1934.
In a separate piece, I take a look at a couple of new arrivals from the Co-op, which is currently revamping its extensive wine range.
First to an impressive offering from a leading Bordeaux producer – Dourthe Reserve 2011 Montagne Saint Emilion (13 per cent, £10.99, Waitrose). This elegant claret, mainly comprising merlot, has a smooth, soft texture, with blackberries, plums and hints of cedar.
It’s a lush red wine, in which the fruit and the spice nicely balance each other.
With summer just round the corner (hopefully), it’s an ideal barbecue wine, and one which will keep well for up to five years.
Still with the same Bordeaux big name, switching from red to white, comes Dourthe no 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (12 per cent, £7.50, Wine Society).
This is a good bargain bottle at the price, made with 100 per cent sauvignon blanc, reported to be from ‘cool-climate’ vineyards.
Fermentation was on the skins of the grapes, at a low temperature, and the wine subsequently spent six months on the lees, maximising aroma and complexity.
There are plenty of fresh, fruity tastes like gooseberries and passion fruit, and a lively crispness. Nice to drink on its own, or with fish dishes.
Over to Argentina now, and Clos de los Siete 2010 Mendoza (14.5 per cent, £14.99, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s).
This is a powerful, full-blooded red, with a mix of grape varieties, dominated by malbec, reputed to thrive well in South America – 53 per cent malbec, 17 per cent merlot, 18 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 11 per cent syrah and one per cent petit verdot.
The rich flavours of the wine cry out for roast beef or barbecued steaks, which is not surprising, coming from a part of the world where millions of cattle are raised.
Clos de los Siete is an ‘oasis’ of seven vineyards in the foothills of the Andes, managed by Michel Rolland.
Lastly to that unusual port, readymade for summer consumption – Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port (20 per cent, £12.99, Waitrose), which has a very pale golden colour and a fresh, fruity mellow character, enhanced by ageing in oak.
It’s suggested for drinking with tonic, plus plenty of ice-cubes and a sprig of mint or a twist of lemon.
Taylor’s introduced this as a new style of white aperitif port, made from traditional white grape varieties, and fermented longer than usual to achieve the crisp, dry finish.
Bottles are individually numbered, and marked with the name of the cellar in which the port was aged. It goes well with nibbles like nuts and olives.
The Co-op’s wine range is currently being revamped and revised, with a selection of new wines and more focus on its own brands.
Fifty-six new wines include a number of own-brand offerings, and I enjoyed a couple with the ‘Truly Irresistible’ label, which I hope turns out to be an accurate description of all of them.
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Premier Cru Chablis 2011 (12.5 per cent, £14.99) is a classy product from this famous region. It has a crisp, dry acidity, with citrus and green apple notes and a minerally background.
A really nice aperitif, and great with good, matured hard cheeses, as well as fish.
I remember one national newspaper wine writer describing Italian pinot grigio a few years back as ‘bland, scentless and wimpy’.
But it has to be said that New Zealand wines made from this grape are a completely different kettle of fish, as evidenced by the Co-operative Truly Irresistible New Zealand Pinot Grigio 2012 (13.5 per cent, £9.99). This is a very fresh off-dry white wine, with ripe, juicy apples, comice pears and lychees, plus hints of nuts.
It would go really well with chicken or fish, as well as being a nice drink on its own.
Talking about the Co-op’s new-look range, its category trading manager, Simon Cairns, said the changes would hopefully make choosing wines much easier and more engaging for customers.