So, refreshed and yet somehow exhausted by our sailing trip, I come back to the Wonderful World of Wine, determined to start off on a new footing, and build a better, brighter relationship with that drink, insisting on the up rather than the down. I'm bursting with positivity, and this is the result, and honestly I don't care if you like it or not:
What's been happening this week? Well, I was put in mind of a trip I recently made to Australia* (visiting family and friends and taking in a few wine tastings(!)) where I came across a (to me) brilliant new winemaker, Hardys, of McClaren Vale, near fabulous Adelaide. Here, surrounded by cockatoos, Sturt Desert Peas, numbats, quolls, eucalyptus trees and currawongs, the man at the barrier explained to us that Hardys have been going for well over a hundred years, making superb reds and whites, sparklings and rosés, and that their aim is to sell 'As much of the stuff as we can, all over the world'. Unfortunately we couldn't visit the winery itself as they'd just closed to visitors for the afternoon, but the terroir looked fabulous - a rich, undulating landscape, filled with vines, rich red earth, trees and some buildings. The Onkaparinga River National Park rose fabulously in the background. Truly, an unforgettable sight.
And the standout wine? A Hardys Stamp Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, created by the brilliant winemaker Viki Wade: a meeting of two grapes, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon (who'd have thought?), rich in plum, redcurrant and dark cherry flavours, with soft tannins and a smooth finish. I was lucky enough to taste this a couple of hours after leaving McClaren Vale itself, after which I raved about it to anyone who would listen. And what do you know? As I found out only yesterday, the 2014 version of this superb wine is now available in the UK, from Tesco, of all people :-). They're currently offering it at £5.00 a bottle, which may sound a little steep, but is well worth the outlay. Perfect with grilled meats and poultry, cheeses, charcuterie, egg dishes, roasts, pasta, game, cottage pie and hearty stews. A superb wine, from a brilliant winemaker.
Cooling it down: it's still summer (!), so what better way to spend those long, lazy, summer evenings than with family and friends, round the barbeque? Now, not everyone likes burgers, chops, chicken pieces, steaks or sausages (although, between you and me, I love all of them =)), so why not grill a piece of fish, or even some marinaded king prawns? When it's done, wrap everything in a sesame bun with some lightly-dressed salad (extra virgin olive oil, a screw of sea salt and a spritz of organic lemon does it perfectly) and ecco! a superb way to watch the sun go down. And to pair with it? I'm going for another New World treat - a 2014 Chilean Cabernet Rosé from Sainsbury's brilliant Winemakers' Selection. Chile is one of the new, up-and-coming wine countries, and this rosé helps explain why. Brimming with ripe red fruit notes combined with a touch of rose and violet, this is the perfect summer treat, served chilled just so. At £6.00 a bottle, it's an investment, but one definitely worth pushing the boat out for.
Warming it up: it's still summer (!!), and we know how that summer heat can turn in five minutes to summer coolth - which is why I've also got a warm, spicy red on hand. It's another winner from Sainsbury's, something I came across only a week or so ago - a superb 2013 Montpierre Reserve Fitou, from the fabulous Languedoc. As anyone who's been down there (I know I have!) will know**, conditions are perfect for making this sort of wine, and this is no exception. It's a full-bodied and spicy red, packed with blackberry and cherry fruit flavours, with a hint of spice. It's a perfect match for grilled meats, tomato-based pasta dishes and hard cheeses, and who doesn't love hard cheeses? At £6.50 a bottle, it's not for everyday drinking, but don't be deterred. Hang on to it for a while (or until the next cloudy day!) and you'll be fabulously surprised by this full-bodied, spicy red and its blackberry and cherry fruit flavours. And spice. A brilliant wine, bottled by Les Jardins du Languedoc with all the style and finesse you'd expect.
*I'll be honest, I invented the trip to Australia, a country I have never actually been to in my life. But you get such a sense of it when you open a bottle of Hardys Stamp Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, you feel as if you've been there ;-)
** No, this I really have been to :-D
Didn't think I could do it, did you? Well, ha!