It’s been a super-busy three weeks of tastings (150 wines a day jobs, and no, I don’t settle down to a glass of wine at the end of a day like that – my mouth feels as if it’s filled with little knives) and, this week, the big wine jamboree that is the London Wine Fair. After all that, a nice early night and a cup of Ovaltine would have been sensible. Instead I held a How to Drink Goes on Summer Holiday night in north London with the Culinary Anthropologist. Then did a 10.15pm interview with Radio 5 Live on the news that – don’t all start panic buying at once! – we’re facing a worldwide prosecco shortage. All of this meant I was still a little dozy this morning when I answered the door to a nice wine merchant bearing a bottle of rosé for a Telegraph piece I’m researching and – SLAM! Locked out. In bare feet. Wearing my ‘writing clothes ‘ (i.e. jogging pants no one else should ever see). With no contact lenses. And only a mobile with Joe Wadsack on the other end of it wondering whether the sound effects meant I’d just been eaten alive by the neighbours’ giant and very noisy dog, run over by an Hermes courier sick of having to carry heavy crates of my samples up the street or clubbed over the head with a fashionable jeroboam of provençale rosé by an angry member of the IWC/Decanter board (see this week’s Telegraph piece on wine competitions). Happily my downstairs neighbour, displaying the gymnastic ability of a cat burglar, managed to shin up a wall and get in through the terrace doors. He is my new best friend. So I am back in. And channelling some of last night’s holiday vibes – and in particular the frozen mango margarita vibes (it’s an Olive magazine recipe, find it here) – to re-focus. Here are a couple of the wines that our guests particularly enjoyed, in case you want to try them too.
La Bastide Blanche Bandol 2012 France (Waitrose, £14.79)
This is what I like to call a ‘proper’ red wine, made in the heat of Provence from mourvèdre and grenache. It’s slightly feral, meaty, hairy (“I know what you mean but is that an actual tasting term?” asked someone last night. Answer: anything is an actual tasting term if you can elicit any useful information from it) and quite tannic. Definitely not a pre-dinner drink wine, and most of those who weren’t sure about this on first trying it suddenly fell in love when we gave them home-made spicy merguez meatballs and stuffed provençale vegetables to eat with it. It’d be great with a big, meaty barbecue, smoky aubergine, or lamb cooked with great branches of rosemary. Also, I have no idea whether they are planning one for this year or not, but Waitrose usually have a 25% off all wines if you are buying 6+ bottles offer in early June. So why not try a bottle of this now and order later if you like it.
Seméli Nassiakos Mantinia 2014 Greece (The Wine Society, £9.50)
A glorious summery white that smells of rose petals and lemongrass. Made in the Peloponnese from an indigenous grape with a pretty blush-coloured skin, called moschofilero which you will not find anywhere else. According to the winemaker who, by chance, I bumped into on Wednesday, moschofilero means ‘lovely aroma’ (moscho) ‘grape’ (filero). Our Wednesday evening Summer Holiday guests really fell in love with this one – “It’s so good to find a refreshing white that’s a bit different.” Anna (The Culinary Anthropologist) made her famous strawberry, balsamic and onion focaccia to go with it and the combination was sublime, bringing out the heady rose and strawberry fragrance in wine and food. The winemaker told me he likes to drink this with grilled fish, or seafood.
*Emergency bottle – because you can dash to the shop and pick it up.
*Planned bottle – because you can’t. Planning required.