A pair of gems ready to enjoy – almost!

A pair of gems ready to enjoy – almost!

Michael Laing, OBE, the owner of Laing the jeweller in Edinburgh, is a recognised world expert on diamonds. And, as a chevalier of Burgundy from the Confriéré des Chevaliers du Tastevin, he knows quite a lot about wine too. BQ asked him to sample two bottles.

I can see a correlation between diamond cutting and wine-making. While it is Mother Nature who makes the grapes and creates the stones, it is the human hand which makes it extra special.

You can find two rough diamonds that appear the same: yet in the hand of the master cutter you’ll get 50-70% more light and shimmering beauty, than with an ordinary gem cutter. It is exactly the same with wine.

I see the enjoyment of wine as a lifelong quest where you are always learning something new. We all start off with the sweet wines, then the dry whites before turning to the reds and back to whites again. Sometimes, it can be a big over-oaked full-bodied flavour that we savour, then something lighter and fruiter and crisp for a summer afternoon.

You are always moving on, seeking greater subtleties and, like a falcon moving along an ever-decreasing branch, never stepping backward, only ever forward.

In general, I love the wines of the Burgundy region. I prefer Pinot Noir with thinner skins from colder terroir. I was fortunate to meet the influential cellar master and oenologist Michel Rolland when I was made a Chevalier of Burgundy from the Confriéré des Chevaliers du Tastevin at the Clos de Vougeot, at St George, in November 2013.

The Hospices de Beaune holds a charity wine auction over the festival weekend of food and wine which is a great occasion. And I have enjoyed and collected wine for over 25 years. So I was delighted to be asked by BQ to sample two bottles of mid-range wines.

De Morgenzon Maestro White 2013
This is an enormous South African white from winemaker Carl ven der Merwe! Big flavoured grape varieties that I generally love – Viognier, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Roussanne – altogether in the same blend that gives a gobsmacking white of higher alcohol (14.2%). 

It has a slightly aromatic nose giving both fennel and citrus fruits and the same counter-points in texture of both creamy balanced with crispy acidity, with hints of apricot, peach and grapefruit with lemon.

In my opinion, I think this wine needs a little longer to meld together. At present I would drink it with strong spicy/chilli dishes, but it would also be fabulous with strong cheese.

Esporao Reserva Tinto 2012
This is a Portuguese Red blend from Herdade do Esporao, in the Alentejo region, from winemaker David Baverstock and Luis Patrao. The legs on the glass reveal the higher alcohol of 14.5%. The nose is dark red jammy fruits and toast with a hint of dark chocolate.

Now the taste was a surprise! Much sharper and medium bodied than I would have expected. The fruit is still young and unripe. The dry, tannie finish suggests this wine has ageing potential and needs another few years to mellow and develop.

I would recommend that you decant it well and let it breathe before quaffing. Today I would drink it with creamy mushroom risotto to let the sharper style cut through it.

While these wines might not be the finest diamonds, they certainly have the potential to be little gems that you can enjoy drinking.

The De Morgenzon Maestro White 2013 is £15.69 and the Esporao Reserva Tinto 2012 is £15.49.

Thank you to Richard Meadows, Great Grog, 17 East Cromwell Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6HD. 0131 555 0222. Free delivery for 12 bottles. And thanks also to Emma Offord and team at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh for the permission to take the pictures.