Drinks of the Month
My top drops in September
September always sees the start of the wine tasting season so it’s harder than ever to pick out the wines - and other drinks - that have made the biggest impression on me. But here’s a selection that I think is worth your attention - for different reasons (though some are definitely for special occasions).
(You’ll find some more affordable options in my recent Guardian column which was devoted to Lidl and the last but one Eat This, Drink That Friday 5 which was free to everyone to celebrate the fact that it had been going for six months!)
Under £10 white: E H Booth & Co Gavi 2021 £8.85
Gavi’s been eclipsed recently by more fashionable albarino but if you’re after a smooth dry white it’s still a good bet, not least because it’s less expensive than albarino these days. Most supermarkets do an own label one but this is a particularly good example. Lucky you if you live near a Booths - if not Morrisons perfectly decent The Best Gavi di Gavi is on a 25% off 4 bottles deal at the time of writing bringing it down to £9. (More about the Morrisons deals in this week's Friday 5)
Over £10 white - Heytesbury chardonnay
Chardonnay still gets a bit of a bad rap but honestly who could resist Vasse Felix’s Heytesbury chardonnay which I was lucky enough to taste in a vertical from 2020 back to 2015 the other day. Sumptuously creamy it’s all a top chardonnay should be. The 2020 is the most recent vintage but will need at least 2-3 years to open up and show at its best.
The best price I could find online currently is £50 for the 2019 at Solent Cellars but winemaker Virginia Willcox also makes a (just about) affordable estate chardonnay for under £30 as I pointed out in my recent Guardian column.
The best foods to pair with chardonnay
Under £10 red: Armenia Wine Company Yerevan 782BC 2020 £9.50 Booths
Booths again! An exotic blend of indigenous Areni and Karmrahyut grapes that would be fantastic with middle-eastern food. (The Greek Xinomavro to the right of it is good too at £13 and would be great with a cheeseboard.)
Over £10 red: The Garage wine Co’s Cru Truquilemu DO Empedrado 2018 £35.11 Jascots at Home
I’ve always had a soft spot for Derek Mossman Knapp’s Garage Company wines but this beautifully supple syrah was a revelation. Ripe sweet and supple with great acidity, it's not the sort of style you associate with Chile but was terrific with a dish of show cooked lamb and anchovies.
Sparkling wine of the month
Champagne Legras & Haas Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2012 £55 Private Cellar
I’m really into blanc de blancs (100% chardonnay*) champagnes at the moment but this 10 year old vintage is in a league of its own. Full, toasty and honeyed but with just the right amount of refreshing citrus to prevent it being too rich. A fabulous gift for any champagne lover (should any of my relatives be reading this … )
* actually sometimes blanc de blancs include pinot blanc but it’s usually chardonnay
Sake of the month: IWA 5 Assemblage 3
I’d been dying to try this sake which is made by the former Dom Perignon Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and finally caught up with it at the wildlly louche Sexy Fish. Still the food is better than the decor and the sake, which he served at three different temperatures, was seriously impressive. If anyone can put sake on the map the persuasive and energetic Geoffroy can. Not least by making it one of the more expensive sakes on the market ...
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