Having been an avid reader of the BQ wine column, I was delighted to have the opportunity to try two new wines (for me at least): a Spanish white from the Basque Country and an excellent rosé from the Mediterranean coast in Provence.
Both are available from Majestic Wine, which has branches in Berwick, Durham, Darlington and Gosforth. If you’re not familiar with the Majestic offer, the marketing proposition is plenty of car parking, young knowledgeable staff, reasonable value and an eclectic mix of well-known favourites, combined with interesting wines from off the beaten track.
Generally, there will be a selection of wines open to taste in the store and multi-buy offers on pretty much everything they sell. The only condition is a minimum purchase of half a dozen bottles. Most Majestic branches run a range of events for customers, including tasting evenings, so if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the noble grape, take a look at the website. Discovering (and drinking) new and different wines is a passion of mine.
Finding an unfamiliar label, especially from one of the less celebrated regions, to share with friends is really rewarding and well worth stepping out of your comfort zone. As chief executive of the North East Finance for Business (JEREMIE) venture capital programme, I am always on the lookout for exciting young businesses and innovative entrepreneurs.
So it is with wine.
The two wines selected by BQ this quarter both deliver a real taste of summer and were an ideal accompaniment to a few days of walking and golf on the East Coast, under relatively sunny skies, over the Easter break. Turning first to the white, the As Caixas Godello 2012 (Martin Codax) is priced at £9.99 or £7.99 for two or more bottles. It comes from one of the most ambitious of the new generation of producers in northern Spain. Presented in a screw-top bottle, this is a real alternative to French Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire or Bordeaux.
Spanish wine spent many years in the doldrums. Over-production and poor quality meant that even the best Spanish wines, such as Pesquera (reputedly Alex Ferguson’s favourite tipple) were little known in the UK. Although red Rioja wines have maintained a steady presence on dining tables and restaurant wine lists, few of the country’s other offerings made a mark outside the Iberian Peninsula.
Fortunately, all that has now changed. Along with the growing popularity of Spanish food, Spanish wine has now firmly established itself alongside wines from France and Italy.
Perhaps, the best known of the Spanish white varieties is Albarino, also from the Basque country. As Jancis Robinson wrote recently, “the more I taste these North West Spanish wine varieties the more I love them”. Largely forgotten since the war, the Albarino grape experienced a resurgence in the late 1980s and 1990s and led the way for other varieties, such as the Godello used to make this offering from Martin Codax.
This drinks really well with seafood of all types and shellfish in particular. Dry and fresh with an acidic finish and hints of citrus fruits, this wine could cope nicely with oily and salty fish, such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel and would go pretty well with a goat’s cheese or salty blue. In my opinion this wine would generally work best with food, to be honest, rather than on its own as an aperitif or a ‘party’ white, but I’m happy to recommend it nonetheless.
Turning to the Provencal offer, like many Brits apparently, I have only tended to drink rosé when in sunnier climes. Somehow the pink stuff didn’t seem to translate very well to a BBQ under leaden English summer skies!
The M de Minuty Rosé 2013 from the San Tropez region really is a delight. Unlike many rosé wines, it is not too sweet, but is really easy to drink. The tastes are floral (think elderflower) rather than fruity but none the less interesting for that. This really is an excellent summer party wine and the bottle design will attract attention from your guests if nothing else does!
It isn’t cheap (£14.00 for a single bottle but really significant reductions on two or more) but it is certainly worth the premium if you want a slightly better class of rosé than the normal High Street offerings. A hint: to get the best out of it, serve chilled but not too cold. Great with summer picnic fare.
So, if you too are missing the sun on your back and longing to feel the caress of gentle summer breezes, these two wines will put you firmly in the mood. Happy drinking! n
Caixas Godello 2012
£9.99, or £6.66 each when you buy two 29 April - 2 June (From 3 June £7.49 on multi-buy).
M de Minuty Rosé 2013 £14.99, or £9.99 each when you buy two, 29 April - 2 June (From 3 June £11.24 on multi-buy).
Wine supplied by Majestic Wine Warehouse, Gosforth.