Brighter evenings and warmer spring weather encourages thoughts of seasonal food and wine – the arrival spring lamb and, at Easter, chocolate!
Lets kick-off with a good value fizz – Champagne Louvel Fontaine (£24 down to £10, Asda). Small, vibrant bubbles, vanilla, butter and a crisp, lemony, refreshing finish.
Clean-cut, dry, racy white wines provide the cutting edge required to work as an aperitif or to accompany smoked fish – Concha y Toro – Corte Ingnacio – Riesling 2015 Casablanca – Chile (£8.25 The Wine Society) has an abundance of lime, grapefruit and mineral notes, that tick all the boxes. Tesco’s Finest 2015 Picpoul de Pinet (£6) – ‘The Mediterranean’s Muscadet’ – is ultra-refreshing, lemony, with tangy acidity and a dry finish; great with seafood. With baked salmon and buttery new potatoes, try Marques de Casa Concha – Chardonnay 2013 – Chile (£12 down to £9 until April 4, Tesco), very smart indeed! Creamy, yet full of energy and zesty appeal. Oaked, but expertly done, a modern, extremley well balanced Chardonnay.
Roast lamb, the traditional choice for Easter Sunday lunch, calls for a Merlot-based Bordeaux or Rioja and there are some cracking, good value bottles out there that will do the trick very nicely indeed. Check out Château Pey la Tour 2013 Bordeaux AC £9.99, Waitrose) which has a wonderful purity of fruit, supple tannins and a lingering finish. Equally successful, is the Condesa del Atrio 2013 Rioja Crianza (£7.99/or mix six at £5.99, Majestic) – gently oaked, the emphasis here is on bright red-fruit flavours, a juicy texture and youthful acidity, or the classically-framed Baron De Lay Rioja Reserva 2010/11 (£9.99 down to £7.99 until April, Co-Op) with black-fruits, spice, a hint of coconut on the nose and a really impressive structure in the mouth. If you prefer a full-bodied wine try Hey – Malbec, by Matias Riccitelli 2014 Mendoza – Argentina (£11.99/mix six at £9.99, Majestic). Deeply coloured, with bold fruit aromas – damson plum, bramble-fruits, with lots of succulence on the palate.
Chocolate and wine can work together really well and here are two contrasting suggestions – Waitrose – Seriously Plummy Maury (£10.99 ½ bottle, Waitrose), a Vin Doux Naturel made from late-harvested Grenache. Rich, plum, blackcurrant and prune-like, with velvety concentration, that would sit well alongside dark chocolate. Graham’s Six Grapes Port (£13.50, wine direct.co.uk) has flavours of plum, cherry, spice and a generous impression. Graham’s have teamed-up with Rococo Chocolates and Six Grapes makes and super match with dark chocolate Bee Bar from Rococo.
-- Neil is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses and tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury and Cambridge. More details: 01359 270318 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org/ www.grapesense.com