Let's Eat

A fresh bouquet to greet springy days


At the time of writing, a good percentage of the wine world is congregating in Bordeaux to taste the 2013 vintage in barrel. But not as good a percentage as in earlier years.

Bordeaux’s 2013 vintage was a bit of a disaster, thanks to one of the worst growing seasons anyone can remember. Some wine pros aren’t bothering to taste them.

The spring tastings are part of the annual “en primeur” ritual. Buying en primeur means buying wine while it’s still developing in its oak casks. Hand over your credit card and two or three years later get your wine.

For reasons too lengthy to explain here, I hate the en primeur system. Still, it gives me no pleasure to see the vignerons of Bordeaux struggling with their third difficult vintage in a row.

Another bunch having a bumpy ride at the moment is Chile, whose UK wine exports have fallen by over a third in volume since last year. I hope they’ll rise again as consumers get wise to Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection White 2012, an off-dry blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. A springy cocktail of citrus, tropical fruit and gooseberry, £8.99 at Tesco.

It might seem counter-intuitive to recommend a Chianti just as the weather is warming up, but remember: spring is the start of barbecue season, and few wines go better with a barbecued steak. Piccini Winemaker’s Choice Chianti Riserva 2009 (£8.99 at Morrison’s) is a good and typical example at a reasonable price.

Equally counter-intuitive: port. But I say yes if it’s a tawny — not only a great wine for tangy hard cheeses but a wonderful apéritif if, like me (and the French) you enjoy apéritifs with some sweetness to them. A sublime example has recently hit my desk, Harvey Nichols 10-Year-Old Tawny (£27.50 for 50cl). Made by the estimable Quinta de la Rosa, this is textbook young tawny. A 75ml glass is all you need to whet your appetite, or float alongside your Montgomery’s cheddar. Or as a toast to the woebegone winemakers of Bordeaux.

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