July – a month that brings end-of-term things like long summer holidays (for students, teachers, MPs and the like), various weekend festivals and festivities and hopefully, more good weather.
Not the most serious of months, then.
So what is needed is three cracking, summery, fun wines with plenty of individuality and just enough seriousness about them to make you realise why you are better off going to an independent than the local supermarket.
For summer fun, we are generally looking at warm-climate, New-World-style wines, with lots of fruit-driven, easy-drinking enjoyment; and that’s exactly what we have here.
A blend of four white-wine grapes (two French and two Italian), this Sicilian wine starts off crisp, fresh and appley straight out of the bottle.
However, one of the key features of the main variety in here (Garganega, masquerading under its Sicilian pseudonym of Grecanico) is how it opens up and becomes more rounded with a bit of air.
Pop this in the decanter for a few minutes before drinking and it develops into a more weighty, rounded wine with hints of smoke, a waxy, spiced richness, the juciness of ripe pears, a creamy texture and a smooth, slightly minerally finish.
With Chardonnay, Viognier and Fiano also in the blend, there is a harmonious mix of citrussy fruit, ripe tropical acidity and some peachy apricot aromas.
Medium-bodied with good acidity, this would work well with oily fish such as salmon or a creamy cheese.
Domaine Des Trinités Rosé 2009 Faugères £8.99 – Cambridge Wine Merchants
For many years a rosé avoider, I have recently been converted into enjoying this most frivolous-seeming of wines and this is one of the best I’ve had recently.
A rosé is made from red-wine grapes using the white-wine method of pressing, rather than crushing, the grapes; when done well, this results in a wine with lots of juicy acidity, enough body to match with food and some of the more interesting characteristics of the grapes themselves.
This one is a mix of southern French varieties that can sometimes struggle to make a good wine on their own and are regularly blended together – Grenache, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre.
Salmon-pink in the glass, there is a smokiness, some redcurrant fruit and a hint of grapefruit on the nose. The palate shows some spice, more flintiness and has the ripe juiciness of summer berries with a hint of garrigue herbs and even a touch of beery hoppiness on the finish.
It’s very well made, balanced and quaffable – especially when reclining in a deck chair on a hot sunny afternoon. You won’t find a huge complexity of aromas and fruit flavours here; rather, this is a food rosé and the main event is the deliciously rounded and juicy, mouthwatering acidity that cuts through picnic food perfectly.
Zesty and aromatic, just drinking it makes me think of the lively flavours of Provençal cuisine; classy and more-ish, to me this is a perfect picnic wine.
Magpie Estate ‘The Mixed Thing’, 2010 Barossa Valley £12.50 – Noel Young Wines
July is also spring lamb season and if you are planning some roast lamb (preferably with rosemary and garlic and roasted carrots and celery), then this collection of select parcels of left-overs from Noel Young’s own Magpie Estate in Australia is just the thing.
Noel makes wines from his own and bought-in grapes from Australia’s prestigious Barrossa Valley and the story behind the wine and the name is a reference to buying up small amounts of top grapes which are grown in too-small quantities to be made into individual wines.
Fermented separately and then blended together the result is quite literally a mixed thing of 25% Cinsault, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Sangiovese, 12.5% Tannat and 12.5% Dolcetto.
Deep and rich in colour, on the nose there are plums, prunes, bramble fruit and dark berries – the palate shows more dark fruit but adds a streak of liquorice with some tarriness, pencil shavings, forest floor. There is some mid-palate sweet prune fruit, soft ripe tannins and a lingering finish.
Despite its rather mixed origins, it feels very harmonious and with the prune sweetness and pencil shavings, you could almost mistake it for a classic Aussie Shiraz. It has a complex, hedonistic, seductive warm-softness to it but is not too overblown as some Aussie wines can be these days.
If you enjoyed last month’s winner (from Bacchanalia, reviewed here), then this is definitely worth a try.
Overall, however, as July is such a joyous, party-going, picnicking month, my recommended wine is the Domaine Des Trinités rosé from Cambridge Wine Merchants.
Bacchanalia – http://www.winegod.co.uk/
Cambridge Wine Merchants – http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Noel Young Wines – http://www.nywines.co.uk/
Copyright, Tom Lewis 2011
Images reproduced from wellho.net and cambridgewineblogger.blogspot.com
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