I turn 30 this week and look forward to drinking some Oxney Estate sparkling wine, as well as some Davenport Pinot to celebrate. You’ll be able to hear the owners of both vineyards speak in episode one of my podcast, An Introduction to English Wine.
A few of you have emailed before saying you’d love to buy a few of the wines I mention but because there’s only one mentioned per online merchant, it becomes prohibitively expensive to try them.
There’s a few potential fixes to this. This issue you will see one of them. I’m running a single-merchant issue of Taste featuring Red Squirrel Wines.* They’ve got an incredible range and I’ve included some of my favourite affordable ones below.
Next Monday, I’ll be at the People’s Choice Wine Awards as one of the ‘people’s judges’. This is an event to help bring the consumer a little closer to the judging of wine. I’ve never judged wine officially before, so it should be great fun. Hopefully after a birthday weekend of celebration, I’ll still have my tasting ability in tact!
Sepo 2016 by Raventos D'Alella (£13.25) is a really fresh and lively white wine made from pansa blanca grape. This was an incredibly easy drinker with some floral and almond notes on the nose.
Les Silènes by Le Plan Des Moines (£16.99) is my ideal sort of white wine. There’s great body here, soft acidity but wonderful tropical complexity and a really nice finish. This was fermented and aged in concrete, which you can tell people about at dinner parties.
Laventura’s Rioja La Nave was my favourite red Rioja of I’ve tried of theirs beating a few that carried quite a few more pound signs to their names. Unlike most Rioja, this is made in stainless steel, which meals you get a much lighter, fresher style of wine where the fruit isn’t overpowered by oakiness. Really great Rioja!
Cibonne "Tentations" Rouge (€15 direct) is a Provençal red made from syrah, grenache, and tibouren. This was nicely perfumed, with blackcurrants and herbs. Far nicer in my mind than its pricier wines.
Finally, Kewin Descombes’s Morgon Beaujolais (£33) is really something very special indeed. As I’ve mentioned with the Beaujolais crus before, these are the top you can get from this region just south of Burgundy. This tasted of spicy redcurrants, and earthy brambles.
I’ve got a few more delights to share from Red Squirrel, which I’ll feature in future issues.
Hardly anyone has real cellars anymore, nor expensive specialist fridges. But there’s still a few things you should be doing to keep your wine at its best.
1. Don’t keep it in the fridge for long periods of time. Those extra cold temperatures aren’t good for wines or corks and the wine will deteriorate over time.
2. Don’t keep any wine in your kitchen. Wines need stable temperatures and kitchens vary a lot. Ridiculously, considering the number of kitchens that have some type of wine rack built into them, they’re one of the worst places to store wine.
3. Keep wine in a cool part of the house that will maintain the smallest temperature fluctuations throughout the year.
4. Finally, keep your wine on its side. Corks dry out, which is terrible for the long term condition of wine. Lying the bottles on their side allows you to keep that cork moist and the wine fresh.
Corked doesn’t actually mean it has little pieces of cork floating around in it. It actually the nickname for a specific wine fault called ‘cork taint.’ The wine will smell of wet cardboard or dog, and will taste dull and fruitless.
*Wines featured no longer available through Red Squirrel however links to current stockists as of December 2020 provided where possible.