Category Archives: Spain

Galicia’s Greatest – Xosé Lois Sebio

The team at Imbibe has cast its vote, with the help of industry-leading sommeliers, on Galicia’s greatest whites. After a rigorous blind tasting of 25 white wines, where the tasters were only aware of each wine’s variety, region and price, the panel came to their decision.

Firstly, Godello; wines that often provide value for money and food-friendliness, and some real points of interest for those who don’t mind a bit of hand-selling!

The panel’s TOP Godello: Xosé Lois Sebio, Máis Alá 2015

What did they say about it?

“This explodes on the palate. It’s an appley number, with lots of lees contact adding weight. Texturally, this is like silk bedsheets for your mouth,” Euan McColm, Beaverbrook.

“A lovely nose of peach and apricot; toasty, nutty flavours too, and more hazelnut and almond notes reflecting on the palate. Easy to sell to a white Burgundy drinker,” Stefano Barbarino, Chez Bruce Restaurant.

Next up, Albariño – wine thats ticks all the boxes; light, aromatic, refreshing and food-friendly, with growing customer recognition.

The panel’s TOP Albariño: Xosé Lois Sebio, O Con Albariño 2015, Rías Baixas

What did they say about it?

“This is rich and textured, with peaches and cream, and warm, woody notes that complement the bright orchard fruit. Leads to lots of salinity and freshness on the finish,” Andres Ituarte, Coq d’Argent.

“Like a lemon meringue pie, with zesty, salty butter. Super-creamy too – this really stands out in terms of quality, and I think restaurant guests would be happy to pay extra for it,” Alex Pitt, Typing Room.

 

Pitted against its peers in the UK, the wines from winemaker Xosé Lois Sebio have come out top in both categories! Xosé has produced a stunning eponymous collection of wines as a result of his personal quest: to find wines with unique personality from more risky processing zones and with a very marked identity. This original and quirky range is made from high quality grapes in areas which are often neglected or simply different; vineyards that are difficult to farm due to the high costs of conventional viticulture.

Away from fashions and conventions, the sole intention is to respect and express the soil, variety and area; producing wines with soul and personality. The wines are vinified with minimal intervention and low sulphur. These are collectable wines for lovers of the authentic and different.

For more information on the wines of  Xosé Lois Sebio, please speak to your account manager. To read the full tasting article on Imbibe – click here.

I Scream, You Scream, What do you serve with ice cream?

The scorching hot UK summer has seen temperatures exceed 30C sending customers into bars and restaurants in search of ice cream, with some retailers reporting a sales increase of over 100 per cent compared to July 2017.

We’ve taken a closer look at a question hospitality venues are hearing more and more this summer – which wines you should pair with which flavours of ice cream?

Pistachio Ice Cream

Pair this Mediterranean classic ice cream with another classic – Cava. It’s made in the same style as a Champagne, without the slightly larger price tag. The Pinord, Cava ‘+ & + Seleccion’ Brut NV is ideally suited to this ice cream, named because the winemaker’s family that first tasted the wine always wanted a little bit more, and a little bit more, and a bit more… ‘More’ in Spanish is ‘plus’ – and so the name was born.

Blood Orange Sorbet

Moscato d’Asti is your match. Almost any sorbet tastes great with this bubbly, semi-sweet dessert wine – you could even pour the Moscato over the sorbet for a refreshing sorbet float. The Michele Chiarlo ‘Nivole’, Moscato d’Asti 2017 is the wine for the job here, with its floral aromas, which are seamlessly complemented by peach and apricot notes on the fragrant bouquet. The gently sparkling palate is delicate, light and creamy.

Strawberry Ice Cream

When serving a dessert with strawberry ice cream, we would always suggest recommending a glass of off-dry rosé, such as the New Hall Vineyards, Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 from Essex. The wine has notes of ripe cassis and wild raspberry on the finish, which is perfect for cutting the richness of ice cream.

 

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla ice cream is a simple classic, so often overlooked, but it is also a blank canvas for whatever toppings you’d like to serve. If you are topping with nuts or chocolate, you can’t go wrong with the Barros 10 Year Old Tawny Port, with its soft and silky texture, and subtle nuances of wood which are balanced by a fresh acidity and impetus tannin.

 

Plain Greek Frozen Yogurt

The sour notes of plain Greek frozen yogurt pair perfectly with the similar tart flavour profile of a Santorini Vin Santo. The extended barrel aging of the Gaia Wines, Vin Santo, Santorini 2006 provides richness, as well as acidity, resulting in a wine that is deep honey in colour, complex and full-flavoured, with notes of toffee and caramel. For the ultimate pairing experience, serve with baked spiced apples or pears.

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Here’s where Australian Shiraz comes into its element. The rich, red raspberry fruits, chocolate nuances, and subtle eucalyptus notes are cross-complementary with a scoop of mint and chocolate ice cream. A wine that is perfectly suited to this task is the ‘Eight Uncles’, Barossa Valley, Shiraz 2015 from family run winery, Fox Gordon, which specialises in contemporary and premium wines from the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.

 

Island Hopping Wines

With  the UK enjoying Mediterranean style weather and many predicting a vintage year for English wine, we have taken a closer look at some of the sunny island wines you can serve here.

From the popular holiday destinations of Mallorca and Tenerife, to the picturesque and idyllic Santorini, to the lesser known island of  Brač off Croatia, there is plenty to tantalise taste buds.

From Mallorca… Bodega Biniagual, ‘Memories Negre’ 2013

Located in the heart of Binissalem, the small village of Biniagual was renowned for its wine production until the phylloxera plague destroyed most of the vines at the beginning of the 20th century.

“An approachable red with bright aromas of wild red berried fruits combined with a subtle hint of spice. Showing a beautifully balanced structure, soft and smooth with plenty of vibrant fruit and a satisfying finish. ”

From Brač, Croatia… Jako Vino, Stina ‘Cuvee White’, Dalmatia 2016

The beautiful Croatian island of Brač is famous for its white stone, which is known locally as Stina and was the inspiration behind the name of this stunning collection of Jako Vino wines.

“A youthful yet complex nose delights with layers of floral hints with tropical notes of apricot and mango. The full bodied palate is dry, refreshingly balanced and full of juicy yellow fruits with citrus hints on the lingering finish.”

From Santorini… Gaia Wines, ‘Thalassitis’, Assyrtiko 2017

One of the pioneers of the modern Greek wine revolution Gaia Estate was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. This wine is made from the island’s indigenous variety Assyrtiko Episkopi, Akrotiri and Pyrgos regions.

“Explosive minerality with fresh lemon zest on the nose, crisp acidity on the palate and underlying floral notes. Refreshing with a crisp, mineral finish.”

From Tenerife… Bodegas Viñátigo, Listán Blanco 2017

The philosophy behind Bodegas Viñátigo is to revive and promote the extensive varietal heritage of the Canary Islands. The journey started in the 1990s, at a century old plot in the village of La Guancha, in the north of Tenerife, where the traditional varieties of Listán Blanco and Listán Negro were vinified in the old family winery.

“Made entirely from the local Listán Blanco grape, the wine shows aromas of dry fruits and an enticing hint of fennel. The palate is full-bodied with a refreshing, balancing acidity and ample fruity flavours and floral notes. A lovely crisp wine with great intensity and a long, persistent finish.”

From Sardinia… Poderi Parpinello,Isola del Nuraghi, Cagnulari 2015

Giampaolo Parpinello and his son Paolo strive to reflect the Sardinian terroir and reveal the typicity of the wines, on a 30 hectare estate the family have been running for three generations.

“A deep, intense Cagnulari with delicate aromas of wild flowers backed by concentrated, ripe red fruits and a touch of spice. Dry and elegantly structured with a smooth finish.”

From Crete… Idaia Winery, Dafnes, Vidiano 2017

Idaia Winery is located in Venerato, a village in the heart of the vineyards of the Malevizi district, which is part of the Dafnes appellation area.

“Delicate aromatic characters of ripe pear, melon and a hint of banana, lead to a refreshing acidity which balances the rich and charming palate. With an impressively aromatic aftertaste, this is the quintessential introduction to the Vidiano grape.”

 

For further details on any of the wines above, please get in touch with your account manager. 

#NewWaveSpain – What stood out

We have recently taken a closer look at our Spanish portfolio, and decided to embrace the regions that may not be at the forefront of people’s minds when they think about buying Spanish wine.

To showcase these we took our refreshed Spanish portfolio to Brindisa in Shoreditch, on a sunny day in June. Below are a selection of the picks from the day’s tasting.

Xosé Lois Sebio, ‘O Con’, Rias Biaxas 2015

An intense and aromatic example of Spain’s iconic variety, Albariño. Aromas of citrus fruits combine with floral notes and mineral nuances. Deliciously refreshing and balanced with deep fruit  flavours enveloped in an enticing mineral character. This is wonderfully sapid with a very long, fine and intense finish.

From quirky wine maker, Xosé Lois Sebio, whose sole intention is to respect and express the soil, variety and area; producing wines with soul and personality.

Bodegas Viñátigo, Marmajuelo, Islas Canarias – Tenerife 2017

Highly aromatic and intense on the nose with pure notes of passion fruit and fig tree leaves leading to an equally intense palate with opulent fruit and a very long, persistent finish.

The philosophy behind Bodegas Viñátigo is to revive and promote the extensive varietal heritage of the Canary Islands.

Pagos del Moncayo, ‘Prados Fusión’ Garnacha Syrah, Campo de Borja 2016

Dark ruby in colour, Prados Fusion offers a rich, fruity nose with  Mediterranean red fruits enhanced by hints of sweet spice. The  palate seduces with layers of juicy red fruits, smooth and silky tannins and a long finish.

Pagos del Moncayo is a family-run producer based at the foot of the Sierra del Moncayo, in the heart of the Iberian Mountain range. The artisanal winery embraces the traditions which have been passed down through the generations, inspired by centuries of cultivating Garnacha in the vineyards of Campo de Borja.

The diversity in Spanish winemaking is incredible, you can go from the relatively small wine producing region of the Canary Islands to Ribera Del Duero and feel like you’re in a different country.

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Spanish Wine

The diversity in Spanish winemaking is incredible, you can go from the relatively small wine producing region of the Canary Islands to Ribera del Duero and feel like you’re in a different country. The landscape of the Spanish wine scene ticks all the boxes and can provide everything you will ever need; from full-bodied food friendly reds, to elegant crisp whites. Spanish winemakers are discovering new styles that are turning heads in the trade.

We have taken a closer look at some things you might not have known about the Spanish wine scene.

  1. Spanish wine was the Romans’ favourite tipple

    Wine has been produced in Spain since the first century AD. The Roman historian Pliny the elder raved about wines made from the area known today as Alella, which is 20 minutes from Barcelona, Catalonia.

  2. Different classifications

    Spain has 78 sub-regions of wine across 17 provinces of the country, including the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. They are classified as Denominación de Origen (DO) and Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC). Both denote that wineries meet strict requiremenets to produce winbe, with the DOC designation being the highest quality. Unlike DO or DOC, which is applied to an entire wine region, Vino de Pago is a classification for Spanish wine applied to individual vineyards or estates.

  3. There are over 400 grape varieties

    Over 15% of the world’s vineyards are in Spain, making Spain the number one ranked country in the world in terms of area covered by vineyard. The bulk of the production comes from Tempranillo, Garnacha, Monastrell, Albariño, Palomino, Airen, Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello. There are also many lesser known  varietals, such as Gual, Marmajuelo and Vijariego from the volcanic island of Tenerife.

  4. Cava isn’t just from Catalonia

    Most people know that Cava is the main Spanish sparkling wine, which utilises the traditional method of production (same as Champagne). Although 95 percent of Cava production comes from Catalonia where it originated in the late 19th century, it can also be produced in Aragon, Castile and Leon, Valencia, Extremadura, Navarra, Basque Country and Rioja.

  5. La Rioja – 1,000 years of history

    The first mention of the name Rioja (pronounced ree-oh-hah) in official documents as a wine producing region dates back to 1092, while during the same time, King Garcia Sanchez I donated lands to the monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla, which included the vineyards. Monks and monasteries played an important role in wine production all across Spain after lands were reconquered from the Moors.

Take a look at our new range, of new-wave, Spanish wines.

Viñátigo, Volcanic Wines & The Black Dribbler

The first exhilarating thing you see as the plane approaches Tenerife is a snow-capped Mount Teide rising out of the mist. Considering the island’s reputation as a sunseeker’s paradise, this mirage-like sight – a Kilimanjaro of the Canaries – comes as a jolt.

Exiting the airport, the hoardes of holidaymakers turn left and dash to the fleshpots of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos; Steve and I turn right and make our way up the A1 autoroute through an unpreposessing industrial coastline until we turn inland and hit the beautiful town of San Cristobal de la Laguna.

“Welcome to the north, the real Tenerife,” says a genial Juan Jesús Méndez Siverio, the owner of Viñátigo and a man who is about to become a winemaking hero to me.

Steve and I listed the Viñátigo wines late in 2017, following tastings in London. We know the wines are extraordinary – but now we are about to find out just how extraordinary.

First things first, we say, as Juan cranks up his four wheel drive. Pronunciation? “Ah,” says Juan. It is vin-YA-t’go.”

Crossing the island, we become aware of the change in scenery and vegetation. “The south is hot and flat and arid, only good for average grape-growing,” says Juan in broken English. “But here in the north…” It doesn’t need more explanation. Here the vegetation is lush and green, the land heavily sloped, dotted with smallholdings, the moody clouds rolling in quickly off Mount Teide.

Juan takes us to the Valle el Palmar in the foothills of the mountain, climbing from sea level to 1,000 metres in less than five minutes through twisting hairpin dirt paths. It is so steep I’m convinced we are going to topple over backwards, and by the time we clamber out it is misty and damp and we appear to be standing in the clouds.

This is the organically-farmed Finca Los Pedregales vineyard, home of the mighty Tintilla.

“Is very small, two hectares, 33 terraces, very difficult to harvest, hard work,” jokes Juan. He holds up a bottle with the familiar ladder motif on the label and Steve and I both sigh “Ah!” as we now know where the ladder = terrace logo originates.

“Everything comes from the mountain,” Juan explains. “You have to pay it respect. It is the highest mountain in Spain. But for us, is importance because it is a volcano. The soil, you see. The soil.”

 

He bends down and hands us dense pieces of the phosphorous-rich rock, crumbling and black. The weight of it comes as a shock. But you can smell the minerals. I strand back and hold it – and  then the rain comes.

Not your average rain, but great wind-driven stair rods spearing into your face.

We leg it back to the car.

Minutes later, back at sea level at the pretty port of Garachico, all is warm and sunny and you might be in a different world. We sit on a harbour wall, buffeted by Atlantic waves, and sipp Juan’s Malvasia Aromática Classica, while we gaze up at Mount Teide, now framed against a beautiful azure sky. “In the eighteenth century the last great eruption destroyed this port. You can see where the lava ran.” Juan points to the valley which runs from the base of the mountain to where we stand.

Peculiar place, I think: one minute you could be in Malaysia; the next, Dorset.

The Malvasia has incredible acidity which masks the 60 grams of sugar. This is the type of wine which made Tenerife famous in the 16th century, when it was one of the most prized wines in Europe. Juan reminds us of two quotes in Shakespeare: in Twelfth Night Sir Toby Belch tells Sir Andrew Aguecheek: “O knight, thou lack’st a cup of canary. When did I see thee so put down?” and in Henry IV Part 2 we have Hostess Quickly admonishing Doll Tearsheet: “But, you have drunk too much canaries, and that’s a marvellous searching wine.”

A marvellous searching wine!

The island lived off wine from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. When the American Independence was signed they celebrated with Canary wine.  And then the grapes were supplanted by bananas and then tourism.

“One of my ambitions is to hold a wine tasting at Canary Wharf,” says Juan.

“I think we can arrange that!” says Steve.

During the drive to the winery in his home village of La Guancha, Juan fills in the gaps. He is a fourth generation winegrower, but the first in his family to study on the mainland. He owns 16 hectares, and works closely with 40 growers, who own another 21 hectares. His total production is 12,000 cases. Such limited production means he has to augment his earnings by teaching as a professor of viticulture and oenology at the Ciclo Superior de Vitivinicultura.

“We started off by trying to improve our production of the traditional grapes of Listán Blanco and Listán Negro. But when I began to research the wines for my classes in the late 90s, I became more and more interested in our winemaking history. The Canary Isles is one of the few areas in the world where phylloxera has never occurred and this means that we have an incredible amount of indigenous varietals. But most had become unfashionable, and were almost extinct. A lot of them only existed on the tiny island of El Hierro, the Jurassic park of vines.

“So I began to work with Fernando Zamora at the Rovira i Virgili university in Tarragona. First, we tried to identify these varieties. We found more than 80.”

Listán Blanco is Palomino, Gual is Madeira’s Bual, Listán Negro is the Mission grape. Tintilla and Marmajuelo are unknowns but probably originated on the Spanish mainland, where they were wiped out by phylloxera.

“Then, we transported many of them from El Pinar to Tenerife and began to propagate them.”

As a result of the work, he has become a seminal figure on the island.

His promotion of these near-extinct varieties explains why many of Viñátigo’s bottlings are small-runs and hand-numbered.

That he has done all of this without trumpeting his achievements and with minimal fuss immediately elevates him to winemaking hero to me.

At the stunning small winery we are joined by Juan’s winemaker wife, Elena Batista, who shows us round. It’s a beautifully designed winery, built into a hillside, with a Batcave feel to it. Small batch fermentation and vinification in 40 separate stainless steel tanks is key. Everything is gravity fed and the winery is cunningly designed to allow for natural ventilation. “Everything is designed to completely eliminate any chance of oxidation,” explaines Elena. Every piece of machinery is mobile. “The idea is that the machinery is designed around the grapes, not the grapes around the machinery.”

It is pristine clean. Viticulture is sustainably-focused. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented using indigenous yeasts. Grapes go through two triages, first in the fields and then again in the winery. Minimal sulphur is used in the winery and no synthetic materials are used in the winemaking.

After asking Juan to pose with a bottle of his 1697 Malvasia, we get down to a tasting.

 

  • The Listán Blanco 2017 has only just been bottled and has a saline, mineral feel to it. I’m struggling to find a more descriptive word, but Elena tells me: fennel. Ah! Tom Cannavan, writing about the 2016 vintage, mused that this “was the perfect white wine: fruity and with a herbal tang, medium-bodied yet not without palate weight and texture, and shimmering with soft but ever-present acidity to the last drop. Ultimately a fairly simple wine, but utterly delicious.”

 

  • The Marmajuelo 2017 is a massive step up. It still has a magnificent saline character, but now has nuances of tropical fruits – pineapple – to give it roundness and a richness. Cannavan, again, on the 2016: “This is a lovely, limpid white wine, described to me as being ‘A bit like Chablis’ by the sommelier in a restaurant, and whilst it does have a limpid clarity and freshness, it is just overflowing aromatically with passion fruit and guava, in a much more vivacious style. It is easy drinking, despite very good acidity, but with a smooth weight of fruit and a hint of minerality too. Terrific and different.”

 

  • The Gual 2017 has a darker, heavier feel to it. This bottle is from 50% grapes fermented in stainless steel and 50% fermented in concrete eggs. Juan then brings out a 100% concrete egg wine, which has an incredible yeastiness and body, due to the suspension of the yeast. A wonderful example of what the eggs can lay.

 

  • The Vijariego Blanco 2017 has just been bottled and is difficult to nose, but has a pear and stone fruit nose and reminds us all of Greek’s Assyrtiko.

 

  • The Negromoll (2017) is a fascinating wine; my favourite Viñátigo. It certainly has a touch of Pinot Noir about it, but without the surliness you sometimes get with that grape. This grape seems genuine, seems to want to please. It has beautiful cherry fruit and a surprising gutsiness to it. Brilliant stuff. We must bring this to a bigger audience, Steve and I agree.

 

  • The Ensamblaje Blanco 2016 is a blend of Gual, Marmamjuelo, Vijariego Blanco and Malvasia Aromática, has massive acidity and lots of stone fruit and more than a touch of the northern Rhone about it. The ’17 is more saline. Juan says that saline is a characteristic he looks for in all his white wines.

 

  • The Listán Negro 2017 is a beautiful everyday glass of wine, with a touch of rosehip and black pepper. Incredible value-for-money.

 

  • The Tintilla 2016 is a much bigger wine; there is masses going on: dark chocolate, tobacco, cranberry. A powerful, serious wine.

 

  • The Baboso Negro 2012 is a big beast, with a massive perfume of violets and a heavy and structured palate with oozing black plums coating the mouth. Very intense. Juan tells us that they nickname this grape the Black Dribbler because it has very thin skin and when it gets close to ripeness it can split and dribble. This is almost too much for Steve and I to take in. The Black Dribbler!

 

  • The Ensamblaje Tinto 2014 is a blend of Baboso Negro, Tintilla and Vijariego Negro with ten months average oak-ageing. This is a big wine, with toffee, caramel and cedar box on the fore-palate, then cassis and dark chocolate.

 

  • Then after tasting two editions of the Elaboraciones Ancestrales, we are given an Orange wine, a Gual, made in the same way as the first Gual we tasted, but left to macerate for much longer. Unlike a lot of orange wines, this is beautiful with lots of mandarins on the nose, well-balanced and very clean, with a hint of quince.

At dinner that evening, while eating through different types of potato (your humble potato is elevated to gourmet status in Tenerife, a result of the island importing many different types from Peru centuries ago), we discuss the concept of volcanic wines. John Szabo, the Canadian Sommelier, had visited Juan and Elena during the writing of his book, Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power, and the Tenerife wine industry makes great play on the volcanic nature of their wines.

“But how do you define a volcanic wine?” I ask.

“Minerality,” says Juan.

John Szabo, in his book, prefers “umami” which is something Steve, Bev and I have sometimes picked up in our tasting room, but we thought it was just Luton!

“It’s a smokiness in the wine,” says Elena.

Steve, with decades of knowledge of Greece behind him, says all volcanic wines have “tension.”

Darren Smith, writing recently in Imbibe, noted that there may be no such thing as a “volcanic” wine; because each volcano had its own wine suite, hinging on its particular chemistry (basic or acidic/alkaline), its own soil texture (loose pumice or scoria, sandy, clay-rich, or bedrock lava), its own micro-climate and its own cultivars, we would be better off referring to such wines in the plural: volcanic wines rather than volcanic wine.

Saltiness is also a common thread for Szabo, as Smith points out. In his book Szabo refers to a ‘weightless gravity’, a subtle power, concentration and longevity, and very much more of a savoury aspect to the wines than a fruity one.

“I agree with that,” says Juan. “ That is present in some of our wines. It may be from some of our plots we have right down by the sea’s edge. Salt must influence the wines, a little like the sea does for malt whisky on Islay.”

As for minerality, that, too, is a difficult concept to pin down. Steve and I use it a lot in our wine descriptions, but as Jamie Goode writes in Wine Science, minerality means different things to different people. Goode recounts  Stephen Spurrier telling him that “minerality did not exist as a wine-tasting term until the mid-1980s. During most of my time in Paris I don’t think I ever used the word.” Spurrier does use the word now. “I probably associate minerality with stoniness, but then stones are hard and minerality is generally “lifted.” No wonder we are all confused.”

Goode goes on to say that Jancis Robinson told him: “I am very wary of using minerality in my tasting notes because I know how sloppily it has been applied.”

“This is what makes wine so beautiful,” says Juan, as we prepare to leave.

While we were eating, a tropical storm had developed. The 100-metre race to the car park became an assault course as we dodged the flying branches of palm trees, one of which attempted to beat Steve to death. We ended up thoroughly drenched.

So much for sun-kissed island, I thought as I reached my room. But, fortified by another glass of a magnificent Baboso Negro (The Black Dribbler), I realised this had been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I used to have a Shakespeare blog, so I was familiar with his references, but Juan and Elena had also brought to my attention a quote from another of my heroes, John Keats:

“Souls of Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy fields or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
Have ye tippled drink more fine
Than mine host’s Canary wine…”

Once more, the Cockney poet nails it.

What are the training team drinking this festive season?

The training team, led by MW Beverly Tabbron, has put their heads together to suggest a few festive tipples perfect for the party season to serve over Christmas.

To kick off the meal:

Aromatic whites such as Ktima Gerovassiliou, Viogner 2016 or Tandem, Inmácula Viognier Viura 2015 are fantastic as an aperitif to get the party going.

For for those who prefer a zestier style, a standout option is the critically acclaimed Gaia Wines, Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2016 or the Hiruzta, Berezia Txakoli 2016!

For the main course:

When choosing reds stick with lighter styles such as; Tandem, Ars Nova 2013Michele Chiarlo, 6 Mesi Le Orme, Barbera d’Asti 2015 or a classic Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

If the meal requires a moreish fruity style of wine, the Colomba Bianca, Vitese Syrah 2016 would tick the box.

To finish:

Treat yourself to a glass of Tramin, Terminum Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2014 – concentrated and intense with flavours of mango and lychee – or Roccolo Grassi, La Broia, Recioto di Soave 2014 – rich and honied, Christmas pud in a glass.

The Wine Writer’s Easter Wines

Easter is the time of year to enjoy good food and good wine with your nearest and dearest. Below is a range of wines for all occasions over the weekend as chosen by some of the nation’s wine writers.

 

Jane Macquitty, The Times, selects her best buys in the run up to Easter weekend:

2015 Gérard Bertrand, Cigalus

“Sensational, biodynamic, oak-aged Midi white, Chardonnay with Viognier and Sauvignon, bursting with exotic, spice-box and grapefruit-styled pizzazz.”

 

John Mobbs, owner of Great British Wine, has chosen his English bubbles to kick off Easter celebrations:

Sugrue Pierre, The Trouble With Dreams 2013

“On the nose, this is clearly the most complex wine on the nose of the five (though at £39, the most expensive too). The nose is nuanced and expansive, with apple and citrus freshness matched with equal amounts of nutty biscuit complexity.

Acidity is youthful, almost eye watering in its vibrance; the most mouth-watering of green apple crispness! And then those bubbles – the mousse is absolutely luxurious and leads the way for an eclectic blend of baked stone fruit and pastry flavours. Citrus freshness interweaves constantly, as do waves of toasted nut and hints of caramelised sugar.

The words bracing, unctuous and exuberant are all descriptors I love in a sparkling wine – but few wines combine all of these qualities and then some. Sugrue Pierre 2013 does just that.

As a relatively new release, this 2013 is just a baby and has at least a decade of development ahead of it. Order a case and enjoy a bottle or two now, then lay the rest down in a cool, dark place and reap the rewards of patience when the time comes!”

 

Terry Kirby, The Independent, has selected his wine for the fish course over Easter Weekend:

2014 Saint Clair, Pioneer Block 3 ’43 Degrees’

“A Marlborough sauvignon blanc from a single vineyard showing fabulous intensity of flavour, with incredibly full flavours of tropical fruits and green herbs and a long finish, achieved, say the winemakers, by planting rows of vines at an angle to give the right blend of sun and shade. This is wonderful with seared scallops, peppered tuna, any Asian-tinged fish dishes and, if you can find it, early season English asparagus.”

 

Matthew Nugent, Irish Sun, recommends an immaculate Spanish blend for an Easter Sunday slow roast pork loin:

2013 Tandem Inmacula

“Delicious bend of Viura and Chardonnay make this glorious white from Spain’s Navarra region. Powerful nose of apricots, melons and pears with smoky mineral notes leads to a very expressive, fresh but elegant palate that has exceedingly good depth with heaps of stone fruit and citrus notes and a little minerality on a long and clean finish.”

The Tandem Harvest Begins

Excitement is all around at Tandem as the 2016 harvest begins with the picking of Tempranillo from a plot in Maneru, where 27,000kg of beautiful and healthy grapes were picked on 4th October – 17 days later than in 2015.

The cool microclimate in Tandem means the grapes are always picked later in the year (as much as 4 weeks) than the vines in the South of Navarra, resulting in naturally occurring acidity that enhances the freshness and elegance of each wine.

The timing of this year’s harvest is ideal for the winery, with the slow ripening cycle adding to the acidity of the grapes.

The Tempranillo grapes and the must are now cool macerating and fermentation will shortly start with its natural yeasts.