August is traditionally a holiday month when we head for the beach somewhere hot and sunny.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that this month our three independent wine merchants in Cambridge have all provided a wine from a typical European holiday destination, so these three wines should either get you in the mood for – or bring back memories of – lazy sunny days on the beach with some great local food.
Antonio Barbadillo, Manzanilla Solear Sherry, £5.99 (37.5 cl) from Cambridge Wine Merchants
If you think sherry is just for maiden aunts and vicars, think again; sherry is fast becoming hip thanks to the likes of Jancis Robinson and Heston Blumenthal.
This IWC Gold Medal Manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Andalusia is a little more intensely flavoured than a standard-spec fino.
Aged in soleras under flor, it is golden in the glass with a classic, pungent sherry nose. Elegant and refined with great linear acidity, it shows evolved tertiary aromas of yeasty brioche and pastry shop.
On the palate, it is ever-so-slightly rounded at the edges, but the finish is utterly bone dry and it needs to be served as a simple aperitif or with food to show its best.
Cambridge Wine Merchants owner Hal Wilson suggests drinking this with seafood or anything with tomatoes such as gazpacho, but I would go for a plate of simple salamis, dry-cured hams and cheeses such as manchego, with olives, oil and bread and just let the acidity cut through it all beautifully.
Domaine de Bahourat ‘La Petit Parcelle’ Viognier Vin de Pays du Gard, £7.99 from Bacchanalia
Pale gold in the glass, it has a nose of stone fruits and a mouthfilling, peachy softness on the palate. It feels as sweet and juicy as a perfectly ripe pear, with a touch of apricot blossom and a very gentle finish.
A lovely, more-ish wine, it has a come-hither softness from its warm-climate origins whilst remaining focused and balanced and would match well either with full-flavoured Mediterranean seafood or even Thai curries.
Dinner party fact: Viognier is an ancient grape variety of unknown origin that almost became extinct in the 1960s; its spiritual home is the Northern Rhône and the Viognier grown in the Languedoc is considered to be a different strain, producing a distinctly different wine as a result.
Monte Schiavo ‘Pallio di San Floriano’ Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2010 , £9.39 from Noel Young Wines
This final wine with a mouthful of a name hails from the eastern side of Italy and has won the IWC Verdicchio Trophy.
Made from the Verdicchio grape which is grown mainly in the Marche region from which it probably originated, it is a wine I first came across relatively recently at an Italian Wine Tasting of Slow Wines. I was impressed with it then and tasting this one now, I really think it shows great potential as possibly the Next Big Thing for white-wine drinkers looking to move on from Pinot Grigio.
Yellowy-green in the glass, it has a beautifully rich, toasty nose of lemons, pears and almonds. On the palate there is more lemon, ripe white peach fruit and white blossom with some herbaceous, nettley accents and a lively, buzzy, rounded acidity.
With a long and soft yet balanced finish with a hint of toastiness again, it is gently mouthwatering as a quaffer, but will match perfectly with pasta such as butternut squash ravioli in a creamy sauce.
As ever, you could easily serve all three wines at a dinner party – start with the Manzanilla with some bread and oil, have the Verdicchio with a pasta course and then the Viognier with a simple piece of roasted fish with some green beans on the side – and I would defy any guest to be disappointed.
However, the overall winner this month is the Verdicchio for its complex and refreshing mouthful of ripe fruit, toastiness and aromatic blossom.
Noel Young Wines – http://www.nywines.co.uk/
Bacchanalia – http://www.winegod.co.uk/
Cambridge Wine Merchants – http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Main image credit – http://www.holidayfrancedirect.co.uk/graphics/library/PRO10103.jpg
Copyright Tom Lewis 2011
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