SPRINGTIME RED WINES
By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 30 May 2020
Ideal reds for serving on warm spring and summer evenings are those made from thinner-skinned, less tannic varieties with a refreshing twist of acidity.
France’s Gamay or Pinot Noir, Spain’s Mencia, Austria’s Zweigelt, Italy’s Frappato or Lagrein fit the bill with their vibrant high acid, crunchy fruits and approachable silky textures. Many of these lighter reds benefit from a short chill in the fridge before serving to make them even more refreshing.
Burgenland, Austria: VELVET TROCKEN NV Pittnauer (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£14.15 L’Art du Vin www.aduv.co.uk
A very clever blend from one of my favourite Neusiedlersee producers, Gerhard Pittnauer. From his biodynamically-run Heideboden vineyards which sweep down from Gols town to the famous steppe Lake Neusiedl, which creates a warm microclimate for the grapes. Unusually it is non-vintage, as Pittnauer has blended three different grapes and vintages. Younger Zweigelt adding round soft notes with more mature Blaufrankisch and Cabernet Sauvignon to enhance the structure and acid. The result is deliciously accessible and authentic with dark cherry & cassis, sappy mouthfeel, slightly spicy, with soft supple velvet-smooth tannins (hence the name). At its best served slightly chilled with mushroom quiche, pork belly or coarse game pate.
Loire, France: CHINON L’ARPENTY 2018 Francis & Francoise Desbourdes (12.5%)
£14.75 Yapp Bros www.yapp.co.uk
Cabernet Franc is a perfect grape for drinking on warmer days, particularly unoaked lighter styles like this one. Just pure crunchy juicy red berry fruits with velvet smooth palate and a refreshing bite of acidity to be enjoyed in its youth. I have enjoyed many past vintages of this Chinon; 2018 was particularly warm so a little plumper and more succulent than previous cooler vintages. Locally in the beautiful town of Chinon south of river Loire, it is served with platters of goats cheese – but would go particularly well with any dried meats and charcuterie.
Madiran, SW France: LES DEUX VACHES ROUGES 2016 Chateau d’Aydie (13.5%)
£12.45 L’Art du Vin www.aduv.co.uk
Tannat is not a thin-skinned grape, but this example is an exception as it is made in a very modern approachable style. Loved its juicy soft blackberry & cherry flavours, hints of leather, smooth succulent mouthfeel – very different to traditional styles of Madiran which are usually tough and tannic – this shows the grape’s softer side. To tame the grape Bernard and Jean-Luc Laplace of Chateau d’Aydie plant the grape on more limestone soils, rather than the usual iron-rich red soils which make heavier styles. In the winery, techniques like cool maceration, low temperature ferment and micro-oxygenation, introducing small controlled levels of oxygen into the wine to help soften it. This medium bodied red would work well with sausage casserole or duck breasts.
Pfalz, Germany: SPATBURGUNDER 2017 Hanewald-Schwerdt (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£13.50 Woodwinters www.woodwinters.com
As a Pinot Noir fan, I was delighted to find this new listing at Woodwinters. Spatburgunder is the German name for this grape. Leistadt in Pfalz region has sheltered limestone vineyards tucked away in the shade of the Haardt mountains. Pinot Noir works well on limestone, so no surprise that they have produced such an attractive savoury minerally red. It is very pale in colour, but has bright red fruits, cherry notes and silky soft palate. Made by a family business run by two cousins, now in the third generation of the family. Aged in large 6000 litre foudres, with a small amount in new oak barriques.
Menfi, Sicily: COSTADUNE FRAPPATO 2018 Mandrarossa (13%)
£9.99-£10.99 Valvona & Crolla www.valvonacrolla.co.uk; Luvians www.luvians.com; Henderson Wines www.hendersonwines.co.uk; Fine Wine Co Musselburgh www.thefinewinecompany.co.uk
It might seem surprising that Sicily can make delicate fresh reds. The best of this light style are from the low tannin Frappato grape, one of my recent discoveries on the island. It has such a fabulous freshness with vibrant acidity – a light feminine style of wine – with succulent strawberry flavours, floral and very fruity – living up to its name which means ‘fruitful’ as it really smells and tastes of grapes. Mandrarossa’s soft succulent example would suit those who normally drink Pinot Noir. Look out for Frappato; it is becoming popular as in the past it was lost in blends with heavier Sicilian cousin Nero d’Avola. Look out for other good Frappato producers in Sicily: Planeta, Nicosia and Cos.
Bierzo, Spain: LADERAS DE LEONILA MENCIA 2017 Maquina & Tabla (13.5%)
£16.95 Lea & Sandeman www.leasandeman.co.uk
From an interesting new small family winery where winemaker Oriol uses organic and biodynamic methods (and low sulphur) to create authentic examples of native Spanish grapes. I have enjoyed their white Verdejo in the past, but this delicious delicate red Mencia is wonderful (as are his crazy pictorial labels). The name Laderas refers to the slopes and Leonila, the grandmother who owns the vineyard. A very good example of the medium-bodied Mencia grape (which is the same as Jaen in Portugal ‘s Dao region) with scented liquorice, brioche nose, savoury edge – a perfect springtime red with its fresh acidity and juicy fruits.
Beaujolais, France: FLEURIE LA BONNE DAME 2017 Louis Tete (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£15.35 Great Western Wine; £16.35 Exel Wines www.exelwines.co.uk; Fine Wine Co www.thefinewinecompany.co.uk
Fleurie is one of the lightest of Beaujolais’ Crus and is currently very undervalued, compared to red Burgundy esculating prices. It makes a perfect springtime red with its crunchy red fruits and silky palate, best served slightly chilled. The Tete family have been making wine since early C19. With perfectly-sited south facing vineyards, their Fleurie is particularly plummy, rounded and ripe. My favourite amongst their Fleurie’s is their silky perfumed La Bonne Dame. Violet and cherry aromas, zippy racy acidity freshens the mouth with crunchy juicy fruits. Very approachable with soft textures and dark chocolate notes. Serve with charcuterie, coarse pate, salad or mushroom quiche.
Langhorne Creek, S Australia: IF LIFE GIVES YOU LAGREIN 2017 Vinterloper (12.7%)
£13.99 Luvians, St Andrews & Cupar
I love the rich cherried fruits, plummy notes and sour twist of Lagrein. I am discovering a different face to this northern Italian grape as 40 producers down-under are now experimenting with it in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. David Bowley of Vinterloper buys in his Lagrein grapes from a grower with a warm site in Langhorne Creek and uses both tank and old oak maturation to enhance its primary fruit and subtle complexity. I loved this wine’s brightness, juiciness and dark red cherry and plum flavours with light spicy notes and vibrant acidity. More soft ripe and succulent than Alto Adige examples from Italy. Serve with charcuterie or spicy barbeque sausage.
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