On our 1 & 2 week courses, our students get the fantastic opportunity to learn about wine from the best, so we thought it was time to let our loyal amigos in on the fun.
We have partnered with Christopher Burr, a Master of Wine, of which there are only 300 in the whole world, so he clearly knows his grapes! In this post, Christopher will reveal a splash of wine knowledge, a glass of tasty tips, and a big old bottle of recommendations that you should be drinking this week.
Cheers, Santé and Salud!🍷
Sparkling wine has become super fashionable over the last year or so, probably started by the rapid growth of Prosecco, which is now levelling off. Some wonderful Cremants (a group of sparkling wines made with the same technique as Champagne, but from outside the Champagne region), and not to mention some very good English Sparkling Wines rivalling the classic French choices now appearing on British shelves.
Between £8 and £12 is the perfect price for a good sparkling wine, which is ideal for an early evening summer drink, and affordable enough to be able to make it a regular occurrence!
I will unreservedly recommend many of the excellent Cremants from various regions of France, made in the same way as Champagne, with a minimum of twelve months bottle ageing to give more complexity, newly baked bready aromas, bright fruit, and crisp fresh acidity.
It is no wonder that Cremant sales have doubled in the last year!
My recommendation: 100% Chardonnay sparkler from Aldi and the hills of eastern France, the Jura mountains. Try the Exquisite Collection Cremant de Jura at £7.99;- many of my tasting friends think it worth nearly twice as much.
Thirty years ago there was a very small selection of rosés on the market, semi-sweet Anjou rosé, and the semi-sparkling good Portuguese wine in a pretty bottle and still on the shelves, Mateus.
Rosé in the UK only represented 3% of the market back in the 1980s, but now rosé is so fashionable with it’s light, fresh, dry, and pale fragrance, and there is now a wonderful selection of styles from around the world. Rosé is now nearly 12% of the market and still growing.
My recommendation: I am happy to stick to France again with my recommendation as so many delicious rosés come from the South of France. Waitrose has a great summer offer, with a third off their Côtes de Provence, Esprit de Buganay Rosé; a lovely fruity dry wine with wild berry fruit flavours from a skilful blend of local grape varieties and a snip now at £8.99 per bottle.
I have to admit that the parcels that both Aldi and Lidl buy are often well worth exploring not only for value but also good quality.
My recommendation: Lidl’s New Zealand Chardonnay, Outlook Bay, from Hawkes Bay; nicely oaked, ripe round peachy fruit, and perfect for some grilled or poached fish. Another bargain at £7.99.
If you like mature red wine with interesting flavours beyond fruit- oaky, nutty, and complex – you will be a fan of Rioja, and particularly Reserva Rioja’s which are older or even Gran Reserva’s, older still. The oldest Riojas I have tasted go back to the 1920s and the very best are completely wonderful!
My recommendation: CVNE is one of the best wineries, and their Reserva Imperial 2014 is excellent, with everything you would expect and more. So why not splash out at Majestic for £21.99? Allow to breathe in big glasses or decant for half an hour or so before drinking.
Finally, I have always enjoyed the quality and value from The Wine Society. Check out their website, it is a small one-off subscription, no salesmen telephoning to sell to you, and a very sound investment with good wines and sounds interesting advice.