I really enjoy a glass of wine, which may surprise colleagues and friends who could be forgiven for writing me off as the archetypal real ale, or ever-so-trendy craft ale, drinker. After all, I have the beard, the skinny jeans, and I work in Birmingham’s beer and pizza fuelled start up scene.
Wine for me is a very personal experience, enjoyed in the company of my nearest and dearest over good food, good company and a few good laughs. Nothing quite beats a quiet night in with family, and a good couple of bottles to complement the mood, so I was thrilled when asked to guest as BQ’s wine reviewer for this Winter edition.
Sundays in my house are all about the Sunday roast; a family event which seems to permeate the whole day with evocative aromas of homemade comforting fare. It’s the perfect end to a busy week, and a great way to start the week ahead. So I’m happy to report the first wine I was asked to review, the Louisvale Chavant more than stood up to the shoulder of pork it accompanied.
The Chavant is described as ‘lightly oaked’ and spends only four months in small oak barrels. On the nose this is surprising as you are almost overwhelmed by citrus and butterscotch, the oakyness is more muted on the palate with luscious vanilla notes and a hint of peachiness, which helped the apple crumble and custard down a treat. A lovely wine, which even the in-laws appreciated.
Sunday evenings are for box-sets and relaxation with my wife. In-laws outlawed, our current favourite is The Wire, and nothing says East/West Baltimore cartel wars quite like a nice bottle of red and a few slices of cheese and biscuits… Our chosen bottle was the Bodegas Bleda Pino Doncel 12 Meses – which hails from Jumilla in the South East of Spain.
The 12 Meses is a blend of 30% Syrah and 70% Monastrell – known in France as Mouverde – and turns up all over the Southern Rhone and in Chateauneuf-du-pape. The wine (as the name suggests) spends 12 months ageing in French and American oak barrels giving some sweet vanilla notes and softening the tannins. This was a big wine, with very intense red and dark fruit aromas. Well-balanced in the mouth, with oak spicy hints and dark fruits, leading to smooth tannins and a hint of sweetness at the end. Perfect for a night in front of the fire.
So to the week ahead, and as I did confess, should you meet me in one of Birmingham’s many quality pubs, it will be a pint in my hand rather than a glass of wine. For this reason I must confess to being more than a little distracted by Connolly’s very respectable craft ale section tucked away underneath the arches, but that’s for another day.
I guess my interest in innovation, the start up spirit of bold adventure and restless dissatisfaction with the status quo, fuels my appetite for big bold flavours in both my beer and my wine and these two bottles really delivered. Luckily my lovely wife and in-laws agreed, a sure sign I married well!
Lee Currier is the entrepreneur development manager at Entrepreneurial Spark, backed by NatWest Bank.
The Louisvale Chavant is priced at £10.49 a bottle (£9.44 as part of a case). The Bodegas Bleda Pino Doncel 12 Meses is priced at £12.50 a bottle (£11.25 as part of a case). Available from Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, 0121 236 3837.