Wine of the Month – May 2013

Named after the Greek goddess Maia, May is the month when spring turns into summer – or should do, at least.

With two bank holidays in the month, opportunities for leisurely eating outside should be plentiful – and in case we get the inevitable bank holiday wash-out, there are also some reds.

This month, we also have a guest entry from Waitrose.

Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy Blanc de Blancs NV Crémant de Bourgogne (£12.99, Waitrose – 25% off until May 21st)

Made by the traditional (i.e. Champenois) method, this cremant de Bourgogne is made from 100% Chardonnay.

The grapes are from the Maconnais region of southern Burgundy – a significantly warmer climate than Champagne, several hours’ drive to the north, meaning more ripeness.

On pouring, it foams enthusiastically; sandy yellow in the glass, there are aromas of ripe pear and toasty leesy aromas and a hint of sweet spice.

On the palate, there is ripe, white pear fruit and a fine mousse. The acidity is refreshing with a leesy biscuitiness and a persistent finish.

Elegant and approachable, this is a classy fizz with a sunny disposition.

Serve as an aperitif or match with shellfish, choucroute or soft white cheese such as brie.

Vina Leyda ‘Kadun Vineyard’ Sauvignon Gris, Chile (£11.99, Noel Young Wines)

Sauvignon Gris is a relatively unusual mutation of the more familiar Sauvignon Blanc – it shares Sauvignon’s linear acidity and minerality, but is less herbaceously aromatic.

The grapes for this varietal Sauvignon Gris are cooled by sea breezes in Chile’s Leyda Valley, leading to long, slow ripening and more complexity as a result.

Bright sandy yellow, touch of flint and green pepper on the nose.

Linear, mouthfilling citrus acidity and good minerality. Ripe pear fruit cut through with fresh acidity, hints of honeydew melon and green nettles.

Clean, minerally finish, fresh, balanced and elegant; really good, versatile food wine. Match with fish dishes or light starters.

La Petite Syrah du Mas Montel, 2011, Pays du Gard (£8.99, Joseph Barnes Wines)

Mas Montel is based near Montpellier on the French south coast, whilst Petite Syrah is a cross of two southern French grapes, the noble Syrah with the rough-and-tumble Durif.

Translucent ruby in the glass, there are ripe red fruits on the palate and some warming sweet spice.

With just 12.5% alcohol, this is quite a light red; the texture is soft with fresh acidity, the finish gentle and warming.

Match with a plate of mixed anti-pasti; mozzarella, salami and roasted vegetables, ideally served in the garden on a warm, lazy evening.

Grignon Monastier Shiraz 2012, Pays d’Oc (£7.99, Bacchanalia)

From the vibrant Languedoc region of southern France, this wine is unusual in being labelled a Shiraz.

Firstly, because the French name for this grape is Syrah (Shiraz is generally its New-World name) and secondly because the tradition in France is to label by place of origin, rather than variety.

Dark purple in the glass, there are lots of ripe, dark berry aromas on the nose, with hints of sweet spice.

On the palate, there is black cherry and elderberry fruit; the texture is pleasantly soft and slightly inky with a touch of firmness and persistence on the finish.

With fresh acidity and low tannins, this is an easy drinker that will match strongly-flavoured foods, such as leg of lamb with a Mediterranean spice-and-citrus rub.

Bodegas Neo Ribera del Duero Disco 2011, Ribera Del Duero (£12.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants)

Just up the road from Rioja, Ribera Del Duero is the modern wine miracle of Spain, and produces wines from the same principle red grape – Tempranillo – but in a very different style on a wide, high plateau.

Ribera del Duero’s fierce continental climate, tempered by altitude to give a long growing season, results in intense, concentrated wines with a lively acidity.

The label features a vinyl LP (Radiohead’s The Bends, apparently)and I can’t help hoping the millennial vintage featured Pulp’s Disco 2000.

Dark, almost opaque, in the glass, there are aromas of bramble fruit, pencil shavings and complex oaky spice.

The palate shows rich dark fruits, chocolateyness and some bitter herbs; the texture is soft, mouthfilling and velvety with a touch of vibrant mintiness; it feels well-structured and poised.

Long and savoury on the palate, with firm, perfectly ripe tannins on the finish. Very classy indeed – match with plain roast red meat or steak.

Copyright Tom Lewis 2013

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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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