Spring is mere days away: break out the barbecue!
Simpsons Gravel Castle Chardonnay
Here’s a quiz: if I say “chardonnay, microclimate and chalky soil,” you’ll immediately say “the Champagne region of France,” right? That’s how I answered the trick question, too. The right answer is “Kent”, in England.
The wine’s nose, without a photo, says straight- up chardonnay. Aromas of overripe pear and lemon are carried by microbubbles which fade away after about fifteen minutes.
The fruitiness, which is both crisp and juicy, makes just enough of a statement to shake up and play with the flavours on your plate, then gently dims to allow the dominant flavours of your menu to shine.
This lively British recruit will undoubtedly hold its own against a bouillabaisse or coconut-panko shrimp.
Nittadi Ad Astra Maremma Toscana
“I prefer two barrels of wine to eight shirts,” said Michelangelo Buonarroti – the Michelangelo – the famous sixteenth century artist who owned an enormous piece of land which is today the Nittardi estate, a Maremma vineyard in Tuscany.
After changing hands several times, the estate was acquired in 1982 by gallery owner Peter Femfert and his wife Stephania Canali, Venice historian, who since then have created the Nittardi wines with the help of consulting oenologist Carlo Ferrini, the man behind the famous Masseto.
This Maremma distances itself from the super-Tuscan style by adopting a terroir philosophy. The sangiovese dominates aromas of berries. The cabernet sauvignon and merlot are responsible for the firm, structured body with tannins that are both solid and melting.
A serious wine to cellar. Having said that, I’ll suggest that you avoid pairing it with tomato dishes to avoid accenting the astringency. A Tomahawk steak would be a better match.
Château St-Thomas Vallée de la Békaa
Just days from spring, some extra rays of heat are welcome. I suggest the sunshine of Lebanon, through a small-batch (30 hl/ha) assemblage of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah, created in the Békaa valley by the Thomas family.
This 2012, slightly brick-tinted garnet red in colour, promises a complex wine. Ripe, almost jammy plums, violet followed by an empyreumatic (smoky) bouquet of aromas of toasting, cocoa, pepper and liquorice.
The fullness mollifies the tannic framework. Dare to pair it with barbecued food: perhaps a grilled lamb burger, or a Cajun beef stew for those more sensitive to cold.
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