Top 10 wines in the UK pressBy Lauren Eads
2012 Saint-Péray, Les Vins de Vienne, Northern Rhône, France
Matthew Jukes side-stepped the typical sparkling rosés and champagne recommendations for Valentines in favour of a white wine from northern Rhône, writing in MoneyWeek.
He said: “This Saint-Péray is dripping with sex and this makes it perfectly suited to the 14th February’s excess of amorous intentions. Aromatically it is irresistibly musky and alluring. The palate is gossamer smooth, showing the Marsanne grape’s curves of stone fruit and sweet spice (in all of the right places). The pliable, sleek chassis flirts with your olfactory receptors and this inevitably causes the pulse to quicken and the temperature to rise. It doesn’t matter with whom you uncork this temptress – it is inevitably going to work its magic. I have trialled this wine, on your behalf, in the safety of my own home and Mrs Jukes reported feeling lightheaded and slightly swoony. I take this to be a positive result.”
Price: £14.99, Waitrose Canary Wharf
2012 Passion has Red Lips, Cabernet/Shiraz, Some Young Punks, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Another of Juke’s recommendations was this “sexy” red from south Australia which he paired to a recipe published in the Daily Mail this weekend.
He said: “With the provocative enchantress on the label and downright sexy fruit flavours inside the bottle this is a serious wine with a cheeky attitude and it is made from my favourite Aussie blend of grapes, too.
“Drink it with the pink peppercorn and mustard rack of lamb recipe. The smooth, hedonistic, briary flavour will be sure to leave you with red lips, too, after a few glasses.
Price: £12.95, www.slurp.co.uk
Pongracz rosé, South Africa
Nothing says romance like a bottle of sparkling rosé, but it is often “a rip-off” and generally overpriced than a standard non-vintage “simply by virtue of having some red wine blended in”, according to Fiona Beckett, writing in The Guardian.
She said: “If you are strong-minded enough to resist the Champagne cliche, what are the alternatives? Well, there’s English fizz, such as the very attractive Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2010 (12% abv), which Oddbins reckons is for “slipping a ring on a finger”, but, at £31, it’s much the same price as the real thing (Lea & Sandeman have it for £29.95). That said, cava looks cheap and prosecco’s hardly special-occasion these days.
“Personally, I would stick to New World fizz, which is much more sharply priced and at least has a smart contemporary look. The best buy without a doubt is a South African rosé called Pongracz (12% abv) that tastes of crushed strawberries and totally looks the part, down to the Krug-shaped bottle.”
Price: Charterhouse Wine Co, £9.58; Champagne Company, £11.95; Morrisons, £10.99 (down from £14.99)
Graham Beck Brut Rosé, South Africa
Another sparkling rosé recommendation of Beckett’s was this brut rosé from South Africa.
She said: “Also from South Africa, there’s Graham Beck Brut Rosé (12% abv), which admittedly has a somewhat prosaic name but comes in a handsome bottle and has a delicious soft strawberries-and-cream flavour. It’s selling at Majestic at £9.99 when you buy two or more bottles, which allows you to be romantic on other occasions, too.”
Price: Majestic, £9.99
Clos Canarelli Figari Blanc , Corsica, France 2011
Bucking the trend this was David Williams who rather than recommending a Valentine’s dinner table treat, encouraged his readers to “taste the world through a bottle of wine”, writing in The Observer.
He said: “A much-cherished notion about wine is that it provides a kind of armchair or dinner table travel; that it tastes – or at any rate should taste – of where it’s made. This is easy enough to comprehend if you’ve tasted a region’s wines in situ: the smell of Provençal rosé in the midst of a damp British winter, say, transporting you back to the wines you drank during last year’s holiday.
“But the idea is somewhat more problematic if you don’t know the place in question, as, in my case, with this scintillating treat of a dry white. Not having been to the island, I can’t say it tastes of Corsica. But the cool stony feel, and the flavours of fragrant Mediterranean herbs and salty preserved lemon, seem to me evocative of somewhere I’d very much like to be.”
Price: £29.75, H2vin.co.uk, Selfridges
Jardins de Bonpas Luberon Blanc, Luberon, France 2012
Travelling next to France, Williams recommended this 2012 blend of Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc from Luberon.
He said: The Clos Canarelli is made from a grape variety, Vermentino (or Vermentinu in Corsica) that is itself increasingly well-travelled, its capacity to retain its racy zestiness in hot climates making it popular across Mediterranean Italy and France and, more recently, Australia. It often finds its way into blends, where it is used to add a little seasoning vivacity to richer, fatter grapes in regions like the Luberon, in the southeastern corner of the Rhône valley. That’s certainly the case with this little gem of a dry white, where Vermentino makes up a mere 10% of a blend that also includes Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc, enough to bring a graceful perkiness and lift to the wine’s ripe orchard fruit and blossom.”
Price: £7.99, Tesco
2012 Tbilvino Qvevris, Kakheti, Georgia
For Brian Elliott, writing in The Scotsman this week, wines for fit for a romantic dinner were the order of the day leading him to pick this “unusual” white wine from Georgia.
He said: “Very unusual white wine made in clay vessels and exhibiting a distinctly orange colouration but with an interesting flavour range. This combines a savoury, herbal backdrop with lemon acidity but a tangerine-centred, marmalade style, off-dryness. The adventurous will love it.”
Price: £8.99, M&S
2011 Signature Pic St Loup, Languedoc, France
Another recommendation was this red from the Languedoc which he described as “pleasingly smooth”.
He said: “This is from a seriously underestimated region and uses classic Rhône varieties to deliver a smoothly textured red with dark plum, bramble, vanilla and liquorice flavours with nice acidic contrast, a pleasingly smooth texture and just the right touch of tannin.
Price: £8.99, Morrisons
Champagne Bruno Paillard Premier Cuvée Rosé NV
Terry Kirby, writing in The Independent, chose to recommend a variety of sparkling rosés this week tapping into the rush for Valentine’s romance.
Of this Bruno Palliard cuveé rosé he said: “Paillard, founded only in the 1980s, has established itself as a premier champagne house and here one can see why: a light pink blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, very dry, very elegant and ethereal with a fine mousse. Simply gorgeous”.
Price: £64.99, selfridges.com
Henners Rosé 2010
Another favourite was this English sparkling wine from Henners.
He said: “The idea that England can make sparkling rosé to compete with champagne was once laughable. Now it’s a given that wines such as this Pinot Noir/Meunier combination have classically restrained red-fruit flavours, refreshing acidity and a complex, long finish.”
Price: £26.99,allaboutwine.co.uk (as part of a minimum order of six mixed bottles); £27.49, simplywinesdirect.com