WE ALL love a reason to celebrate, so here’s advance warning of International Grenache Day.
Buy the bunting, invite your friends round, bake a cake as it’s next Friday (September 18 2015).
Grenache Day is a global event organised by the Grenache Symposium Association. I bobbed onto their website which waxes lyrical about the grape.
It proclaims: “It’s one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world and responsible for the velvety, voluptuous mouthfeel that people love in wine; but it rarely gets the credit it deserves because it’s often used in blends. It’s time to change all that! Grenache enthusiasts are connecting all over the world and coming together to celebrate this groovy grape.”
I HAD a rotten day the other day and was in need of comfort.
I stood in a supermarket aisle in front of something which declared itself to be fresh and crisp. I wasn’t in the fruit and vegetable section. It also had “sparkling” on the label. I certainly wasn’t near the household cleaning products.
It goes without saying I was in the wine aisle; just as well as this column is about wine and not furniture polish or kiwi fruit.
After some pondering my eyes drifted towards Mia Light & Crisp (£9.75, Asda).
It’s a very pretty bottle, but I’m not normally tempted by girlie things. I was interested because a couple of years ago I met the ambassador of the Mia range, Gloria Collell, when I visited the parent company Freixenet in the heart of cava country near Barcelona.
At that point, Gloria had been developing two simple fruity still wines, Mia – Signature No.1 (red, tempranillo grapes) and Mia – Signature No.2 (white), a blend of the cava grapes macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada.
Gloria is a stylish, classy woman, with a determination clear for all to see, but also elegantly feminine, in that effortless way of continental ladies. Gloria developed her Mia still wines with modern women in mind, but was also staying close to her roots using Spanish grapes.
It’s difficult not to be won over by wines when the person who has created them is enthusing and tasting alongside. So I saw the sparkling Mia on the supermarket shelf and thought “Gloria. What’s she up to now?” Freixenet introduced two sparklers to the Mia range to appeal to younger wine drinkers after research showed a trend for drinks such as fruity ciders.
There’s two sparkling Mia wines, Mia Light & Crisp (11.5% abv, the one I bought) and Mia Fruity & Sweet Moscato (7% abv). Freixenet wants them to appeal to the “young consumer’s palate”.
So my wine. It is a blend of macabeo and airen – which, believe it or not, is the world’s most widely planted white grape.
There’s apples and pears on the nose, citrus reminiscent of a cava, and a lemon aftertaste.
I wasn’t blown away, but I wasn’t disappointed. If Freixenet have laid claim to a particular marketplace then I can see girlies drinking this Mia.
So Freixenet will have done their job.
But I had chatted over a fascinating lunch with Gloria while tasting amazing cavas with style and depth; they are the kind of wines I would love Gloria to make for me. I am, after all, a modern woman. (No sniggering at the back please.)
Also in my glass
By contrast, a classy Champagne, and by further contrast, a dull pinot noir.
Champagne Bruno Paillard Brut Premier Cuvée (RRP £44.99, Selfridges, lokiwine.co.uk and www.spiritedwines.co.uk). Bruno Paillard is considered by some to be “Champagne’s best kept secret”. Only the finest grapes (a classic blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay) are selected. Brioche on the nose, but with an understated subtle elegance; think Audrey Hepburn. A fizz which fizzed longer than most and apples to taste, cut through with some minerality.
Morrisons Pinot Noir (£4.99) Sometimes I wonder if it’s me. Described as “brimming with fresh raspberry and cherry flavours” I found this thin on the fruit and dry and dull on the palate, with not much of an after-taste.
If it is me, then by all means let me know.
Published in the saturday extra magazine April 5, 2014