Wine of the Month – April 2013

April is the first full month of spring – a time when the grapes for this year’s wine will start to burst as buds on the vines.

It is also the month of Earth Day, St George’s Day and the London marathon, so take your pick. Also, April Fools Day and the cruellest month, according to TS Eliot.

St George himself was a Greek who became an officer in the Roman army before slaying the dragon and achieving sainthood. As he is the patron saint of shepherds, it is only appropriate that we should celebrate his feast day with lamb and some appropriate wines.

Bodega Mengoba, Breza Blanco 2011 (£11.35 Joseph Barnes Wines)

From the Bierzo region in northwest Spain, the vines (mainly Godello and Doña Blanca) are grown at an altitude of 550m giving both freshness and depth to the wine.

Vinified in a single barrel and aged in 500 litre foudres, there is some subtle oak influence; a pale lemon in colour with greenish tints. Scents of lemon-edged chalky fruit. On the palate, fresh with a pronounced minerality. Bright, creamy tropical fruit flavours and rounded in texture.

The finish is lingering.

Columbia Crest, Two Vines Cabernet Savignon, Washington State (£6.99 Bacchanalia) 

This US Cabernet Sauvignon is from Washington State -much further north than California with a more moderate-climate feel as a result.

Ruby in the glass, it has aromas of plummy fruit, mocha and oaky spice.

The palate shows ripe bramble fruit with good acidity and a lick of spicy, toasty oak; it feels soft and harmonious but with good savoury underpinnings and a firmness on the finish.

Handsome and well-groomed in an all-American sort of way, this is Richie Cunningham – no rough edges, no hidden depths, just a good ol’ boy. 

A bin-end in limited quantities, it’s just £6.99 and something of a bargain.

Magpie Estate ‘The Thief’ Mourvedre-Grenache Rosé (£11.95 Noel Young Wines)

From Noel’s own vineyard in Australia, this is not so much a rose wine as a red without tannins.

And with the sun finally coming out and temperatures possibly into double figures this weekend, it’s time finally to shake off the winter funk and party like it’s spring.

Made from the classic Languedoc grapes of Mourvedre and Grenache, with a touch of Cab Franc thrown in, it is a cranberry-red in the glass and has a smokey spice and soft red fruits on the nose.

The palate is mouthfilling with more soft red fruit and a wonderfully food-friendly savouriness. Perfect for these sunny-but-still-chilly days.

Match with picnic food and especially cold meats, or any spicy food with tomato.

La Chamiza Malbec 2012 Mendoza (£8.50, Cambridge Wine Merchants)

And if the reappearance of the sun has convinced you to dust down the barbecue, this spicy Argentinian red from Cambridge Wine Merchants is just perfect.

Dark purple in the glass, there is smokey spice and ripe plummy fruit on the nose.

The palate is ripe and spicy, with more pure plummy, black cherry fruit, fresh acidity and savouriness. Long on the palate and well balanced, the tannins are mouthfilling and perfectly ripe with a pleasant savoury firmness on the finish.

This is a wine geek’s barbecue red – ripe, fruity and quaffable, yet supremely well-made from really high-quality fruit.

Match with some smokey barbecue meats or, failing that, peppery steak.

Recommended Wine

The Malbec from Cambridge Wine Merchants and the Magpie Estate “The Thief” both score highly as well-made wines, but my recommendation this month is the lovely Two Vines Cab – available only in limited quantities, it is a handsome and cultured American at a bargain price.

Links

Bacchanalia – http://www.winegod.co.uk/

Cambridge Wine Merchants – http://www.cambridgewine.co.uk/

Joseph Barnes Wines – http://www.josephbarneswines.com/

Noel Young Wines – http://www.nywines.co.uk/

Image credit: St George cross: http://beardedgit.com/?p=423, Richie Cunningham: http://www.retrocrush.com/archive2008/redheads/

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About Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis is a wine writer and educator from Cambridge with a particular interest in Austria and France. His comments have been published on JancisRobinson.com, Local Wine Events, as well as in the local press in his hometown of Cambridge, UK. When it comes to buying wine, Tom’s philosophy is to buy as close as possible to where it comes from. He writes a regular blog, the Cambridge Wine Blogger which launched in 2009 and is a presenter for the Cambridge Food and Wine Society. To read more of Tom’s work, please check out cambridgewineblogger.blogspot.com
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