LIGHTHEARTED, lively and lovely should be the order of the day for today, February 14 – and I’m talking about wines as well as ladies, of course.
Many of us decide to push the boat out on St Valentine’s Day, splashing out on flowers, chocolates, or a meal out, as well as on a nice bottle, to make it a special occasion.
Even oldies like myself manage to totter off to the supermarket or wine shop to make one or two purchases we hope will brighten up the lives of ourselves and our partners.
Three new arrivals from France’s Bergerac region, and two fine champagnes appealed to me as February 14 possibilities, to go with food or sipping on their own, while maybe sitting in front of a crackling log fire.
Bergerac is just to the east of Bordeaux, and has a range of wines which are generally good in quality but tend to be less pricey than those of its illustrious neighbour.
Les Parcelles Foncoussade Cabernet-Merlot Bergerac Rosé 2012 (12.5 per cent, £7.99, Waitrose) is a tangy blend of two grapes, and the accent is on fresh strawberries.
It’s a dry, fruity rosé, with the emphasis on freshness – and named after a very small village which the vineyards surround. It would be good as an aperitif, or with dishes such as fish or poultry.
Grande Réserve Bergerac Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (12 per cent, £8.99, Sainsbury’s) is an aromatic blend, with citrus flavours and a mouthwatering softness. Its style is crisp and medium dry, particularly good with shellfish or just tasty nibbles. The distinctive characteristics of the sauvignon, like gooseberries and elderflowers, are instantly detectable, as is the honeyed accent of the semillon.
This is an attractive white wine, reasonably priced.
The third Bergerac offering is a sweet dessert wine, ideal both for rich puddings or ripe blue cheeses, but also very nice by itself.
Chateau Les Sablines Monbazillac 2010 (12.5 per cent, £8.99 for 50cl, Waitrose) is a classic blend of semillon, sauvignon and muscadelle, with its honeyed tones provided by the ‘noble rot’ grapes. Shimmering golden white in colour.
The chateau, dating back to 1833, is in the heart of the Dordogne, and the wine was made by a celebrated local wine consultant, in an area famous for its sweet wines. A perfect match for desserts or boxes of chocolates.
For those who can’t resist the scintillating sparkle of a good champagne, I suggest a couple of bottles from the world-famous Taittinger champagne house.
The words ‘pink champagne’ have a romantic ring to them, and they don’t come much better than Taittinger Prestige Rosé (12 per cent, £48, Waitrose, Majestic, Oddbins and www.everywine.co.uk).
This fine drink gets its beautiful glistening salmon colour from the addition of 15 per cent still red wine to a blend containing at least 30 per cent chardonnay.
It has soft, rich red fruit, and a light acidity. There are aromas of wild strawberries, and the clouds of fine bubbles seem to go on for ever. It’s lovely stuff – and medium dry.
Just as appealing, with a ‘dreamy music’ name, is Taittinger Nocturne Sec NV (12 per cent, £47, John Lewis, Harrods, winedirect.com).
This is a dry champagne, made from 40 per cent chardonnay and 60 per cent pinot meunier. It was aged on the lees for three to four years, adding to the rich flavours and complexity.
It’s silky and mellow in character, with fulsome fruity tastes and an aroma including hints of peaches. Recommended.
For romantics with an eye for a good bargain, a rather more-ish rosé champagne is on special offer throughout February.
A fiver is being knocked off the usual £35 price of Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique Rosé (12.5 per cent), which is available from Great Western Wine in a special pink gift box.
The colour is light and delicate, enhanced by the swishing clouds of minute bubbles, and the vibrant flavours bring to mind both strawberries and freshly picked raspberries.
The champagne contains chardonnay, pinot meunier, and pinot noir. It’s aged for three to four years.
St Valentine’s Day aside, this is a wine I would be delighted to sip any time – particularly with tasty starters or just on its own before a meal.