by Rose Murray Brown MW
Published in The Scotsman 22 February 2014
What we need at this time of year are hearty winter warming reds to serve with roasts, stews, spicy salami or mild curries. Here is my pick of the top ten from around the world to suit a variety of tastes and food matches.
Jumilla, Spain: JUAN GIL MONASTRELL ‘4 MESES’ 2012
(£8.99 Aitken Wines, Dundee; Woodwinters, Bridge of Allan & Edinburgh)
Always a winner at tastings. This hearty blackfruited lush ripe red is such fantastic value showing the potential of the Jumilla region. Monastrell is the same grape as France’s Mourvedre and Australia’s Mataro, but it seems to perform better in southern Spain as an individual varietal. Check out Juan Gil’s other wines – all well-made with ripe smooth tannins. Delicious with mature cheeses or rich red meats. STAR BUY
Piedmont, Italy: BARBERA D’ASTI 2009 Castello del Poggio
(£11 Bacco Wine Shop, Dundas Street, Edinburgh)
Very popular at our recent tasting. Cherry fruit aromas, crunchy vivid freshness, juicy mouthwatering acidity and good depth of fruit for the price. Barberas from Asti tends to be lighter in style than Alba. Delicious with salami and saucissons to cut through the slightly greasy texture in these foods.
Languedoc, France: TASTE THE DIFFERENCE PIC ST LOUP 2011
A good example of an unoaked herby spicy Languedoc predominantly Syrah blend (with 20% Grenache) – with a typically rustic finish. Made from 20 year vines grown near the dramatic Pic Saint Loup surrounded by the garrigue. Made by Les Coteaux du Pic in one of the most northerly Languedoc vineyards where Syrah grows so well. Serve with roast lamb or warming winter casserole.
Patagonia, Argentina: VINALBA CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT 2010
(£7.99 reduced from £9.99 until 25 February at the Co-op)
I love Vinalba’s succulent velvet smooth style – always offering plenty of fruit and intensity for your money. The Patagonia region in southern Argentina is now coming of age as vines mature and catching up with the main Argentinian region of Mendoza. This Bordeaux-style blend is very elegant. A great bargain at Co-op’s promo price.
Coonawarra, Australia: KATNOOK FOUNDERS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009
(£11.99 Waitrose & Waitrose Direct)
Katnook’s top wines might be pricey, but their standard Cabernet is a very good buy to sample the delights of the minty eucalyptus notes and deep rich velvet smooth palate fruits that Coonawarra is known for. Katnook is one of the leading producers here on Coonawarra’s special red limestone strip in southern Australia. A must for Cabernet lovers.
Romania: CALUSARI PINOT NOIR 2012
(£6.99 Henderson Wines, Comiston Rd, Edinburgh; Drinkmonger, Edinburgh & Pitlochry; Penicuik Wines, Penicuik; Waitrose)
Don’t expect this to be like a fine Burgundy or even a ripe New Zealand Pinot Noir. This is just very soft, light, easy-going gluggable Pinot from a country that used to be known for its Pinots and is heading for a come-back.
Marlborough, New Zealand: WITHER HILLS PINOT NOIR 2010
(£10.50 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com)
This seems a fair price for this succulent sweet cherry-fruited Pinot Noir, which is listed at a more expensive price in both Majestic Wine and Waitrose. From the well-established Wither Hills, made by their globe-trotting winemaker Ben Glover. It just beat Tesco Finest Otago Pinot Noir in our tasting (at the same price). Delicious with roast duck.
Limari Valley, Chile: TABALI ESPECIAL SHIRAZ RESERVA 2010
(£9.75 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com)
I am a big fan of Tabali’s wines: all superbly made with a very ripe fruit style. This Shiraz is so deep spicy and moreish it offers better value than anything in Australia at this price. It hails from Limari Valley, once an outpost of Chilean viticulture where grapes for Pisco brandy once grew, now it is producing some of Chile’s best Syrahs. It has enough robustness and spice to serve with a mild curry. (Also check out Tabali’s Encantado Reserva Shiraz is £11.49 at Waitrose)
Northern Rhone, France: ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL CROZES HERMITAGE 2008
It is rare to find a northern Rhone Syrah combining character and approachability at this price. So many Crozes Hermitage, even more expensive ones, can be bitter on the finish or too just too young. This is packed with spiciness and pepperiness that we expect from Syrah with a mature mellow black fruit and gamey undertone and a soft tannic finish. It makes an interesting contrast to the Chilean Shiraz above – if you wanted to compare the same grape from the Old World v New World.
Durbanville, South Africa: DIEMERSDAL PINOTAGE 2012
(£11.95 bt or £10.79 each for 12 bts Jeroboams www.jeroboams.co.uk 0207 288 8850)
This long established estate (founded back in 1698) has been run by the same family, the Louws, since the C19 and now run by the 5th and 6th generations of the family. Currently better known for their delicious Sauvignon Blanc made in the Atlantic ocean-influenced vineyards of Durbanville northeast of Cape Town. Their Pinotage is intriguingly spicy, big, ripe and very well made with none of the acetone notes often associated with this grape.
Fancy sampling wines from Turkey, India, China, Croatia? Join Rose’s Emerging Wine Countries tasting on Wed 25 June 2014 in Edinburgh £36 www.rosemurraybrown.com