Our tipples of the week

(by peter & susie)

It’s been a busy old spring.

In the course of our work, we’ve been tasting many things – and not just as a way of counteracting the notably warm, dry weather.

Whether it’s been in at home, in radio and TV studios, football stadiums, events or restaurants, we have been decidedly omnivorous in our ruthless drive to document our drinks.

The following is a smorgasbord of highlights.

On the wine front…

Elegant Frog Viognier 2010, 13.5% (£7.99, Sainsbury’s) – Jean-Claude Mas really does make some fantastic wines, and this is a gem. Elegantly peachy and floral, it is succulent and with a wonderfully refined texture at this level (it’s part-aged in oak). Like a mini Condrieu, it caresses your palate in subtle and gentle ways, with a lovely persistence. Great stuff. 6-6.5/10

Saint-Veran 2008, Rives de Longsault, Domaine des Deux Roches (£13.99, Laithwaites) – a complex, creamy white Burgundy with lovely savoury flavours of roasted citrus and roasted nuts. It’s pricey, but worth it. That touch of age makes it all the more inviting and rewarding – though it needs drinking up now. 7/10

Quatre Tours, Signature rosé, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2010, 12.5% (£9.25, Stone Vine & Sun) – a classic Provençal rosé from one of our local wine merchants, this pale pink wine offers elegantly food-friendly flavours of pear and redcurrant fruit, with notes of dried herbs and warm earth. Subtle and dangerously drinkable. 5.5/10

Schubert Block B Pinot Noir 2008, Wairarapa (£29.50, Waitrose) – another spenny tipple, but well worth the outlay. (We’re fans of Martinborough Pinot Noir – as you can tell from our recent trip there.) Susie tasted this one at the recent Waitrose tasting; we then subsequently tried it at supper in Winchester’s only Michelin-starred eatery, The Black Rat. On both occasions it was delicious: plummy and seductive with a well integrated warming spice and sensuous waves of pleasure. A top drop. 8-8.5/10


Not forgetting the beer & cider…

Little Scotney Best Bitter, 4.3% (£21.99 for 12, www.alesbymail.com) – made by the Westerham Brewery using National Trust farm hops, this is a wonderfully gently marriage of fruity and muscovado sugar flavours with dried hops and malt. Soft but also persistent and flavoursome – really well made. 6/10

Taste the Difference Suffolk Cyder, Medium dry, Hall Farm Aspall, 4.6% (Sainsbury’s, £1.36 for 500ml, down from £2.05) – Pungent aromas of bruised apples and spiced lemons. Clean and pure but also a lovely complexing rusticity. It’s frothy, crunchy and tangy in flavour – invigorating and supremely gluggable. It could be more complex but it makes up for that in refreshing drinkability. 6/10


And now for something a bit different…

Mochatage Pinotage 2009, Western Cape, 14.5% (£6.99, Marks & Spencer) – a ‘Marmite’ wine if ever there was one. You love it or hate it – and, just to prove we don’t always agree, Susie and I pretty much sat on either side of that particular fence. It’s full-on, in-your-face character here: loads of toasty charry ashen roasted flavours – coffee, chocolate, cinders – with a spicy, juicy palate profile. But we love the inventive marketing of this wine – and if you’re a fan of triple expressos, there’s a high likelihood you’ll love this wine. Not a wine for the faint of heart. (Peter 5/10, Susie 3/10)