Wine Press: Roast beef, wine and National Yorkshire Pudding Day

National Yorkshire Pudding Day wine

Who would have thought there is a day devoted to the humble yet wondrous Yorkshire Pudding. I love a Yorkshire pud, even better, I love its traditional accompaniment of beef.

So when someone told me that tomorrow, Sunday, is The Day to celebrate Yorkshire puddings (always the first Sunday in February apparently) it seemed a good enough reason to look at red wines to enjoy with beef. A tenuous link perhaps, but my brain works like that.

I cooked a beef joint in half a bottle of red with lots and lots of onion, carrots and celery. It was unctuous, slow-cooked, melting beef. I nestled the sauce in a crunchy Yorkshire (well, two actually) with the humdinger heat of a horseradish huddle spooned alongside. Now that was a challenge for any red.

I taste tested as follows. (I did two sittings to be honest. I ate beef and Yorkshire pud on two consecutive nights. That’s what I do for you.)

Extra Special Malbec 2014 (ASDA, £7) is a ruby red from Mendoza, Argentina, with 13% abv. Plums rise out of the glass, with a breeze of heather and some herbs. There’s no running away when it comes to the horseradish test; and the savoury beef and soft veg merged with the wine into a fruity, onion sweet, spice kick.

Extra Special Malbec 2014, Asda and Limestone Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, Aldi
Extra Special Malbec 2014, Asda and Limestone Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, Aldi

The Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (Aldi, £6.49, 14% abv) A deep red, so deep you can’t see your fingers through the glass. The Limestone Coast chardonnay is a winner with some of my friends, but what of the cab sav? There’s a menthol hum above the rim, with lots of squeezed blackcurrants, herbs and pepper. To taste, the dark fruits blend and melt with the beef and burst delightfully with the horseradish.

McGuigan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon
McGuigan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon

To one more cab sav, another from Australia, and McGuigan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon (RRP £8.49 Tesco, Sainsbury’s, 12.5% abv). A lighter red than the Aldi cab sav, as clasping fingers can be seen through a red haze of wine and glass. The aromas of black fruits helter skelter through upfront spicy pepper, as feminine florals float alongside. Blackcurrant bastes the beef with soft fruity notes and acidity excites with the horseradish.

Réserve des Tuguets 2010 AOC Madiran
Réserve des Tuguets 2010 AOC Madiran

Réserve des Tuguets 2010 AOC Madiran, Plaimant Producers (£11.99, Tesco) There’s three grapes here. Tannat, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc are blended in the foothills of the Pyrenees to produce this wine which won a bronze at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards. I expected oomph, a flash of French Musketeer bravado. If the previous three wines were defiant T-shirt ripped teenagers, this wine is in its twenties, quieter and wearing a three piece suit. With the beef, yes, blackberry and blackcurrant flavours are perfect; with the horseradish, it was overpowered.

Crikey. It’s a challenge to keep eating and drinking, but someone has to.

Also in my glass … Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc (sold widely, various prices, including The Wine Society £11.95, and Majestic £15.99 – £11.99 on a buy any two offer). Craggy Range won the New World Winery category at the prestigious Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Wine Star Awards a few weeks ago.

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc

It’s a sauvignon blanc with a difference. Grapes have been fermented in French oak, aswell as stainless steel, and then the wine was matured for five months before bottling. There is the fresh lime citrus spike on the nose familiar to sauvignon blanc, but with a floral lift and lots of tempting tropical fruits. To taste, a meringue of limes and more tropical fruits with a creamy, and flinty, finish. Delicious.

Published in the saturday extra magazine January 31, 2015

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International Wine Challenge announces Wine Merchant honours

The International Wine Challenge Merchants' Awards 2014

THIS girlie, as I write, has a mild red wine hangover. I have tried revitalising shampoo but it hasn’t worked, so I’m going to write to the Shampoo Ombudsman.

The reason for my “mild” head? This week the International Wine Challenge announced its Merchant Awards and I was there “quietly” enjoying the occasion.

Proof, if it were needed, that I was quiet at the International Wine Challenge Merchants' Awards 2014
Proof, if it were needed, that I was quiet at the International Wine Challenge Merchants’ Awards 2014

The headlines then (and it’s always nice to know these things when you’re shopping around for vino):

Marks & Spencer picked up the Supermarket of the Year gong. Highly commended was Morrisons.

Oddbins won High Street Chain of the Year (if there isn’t one near you, they have a website www.oddbins.com).

Wine Club of the Year was awarded to The Wine Society, of which this lady with the mild head is a firm fan. The cost of a lifetime share is £40 with no annual fee or obligation to buy; and you can bequeath membership to your kids. Great wines too. (www.the winesociety.com)

Great value sparkling wine was awarded to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Prosecco Conegliano DOC which has graced this column on a couple of occasions.

You can find out more at www.internationalwinechallenge.com, plus you can search for individual award-winning wines.

In my glass … A workpal, who shall remain nameless, pointed me in the direction of some wines from Marks & Sparks. Anyway, Barrie (oops) said that he’d picked up a bottle of Indian wine and that it was very good indeed. The “very good indeed” wine turned out to be Jewel of Nasik Tempranillo Syrah 2013 and I can tell you, dear reader, that Barrie is bang on the money.

IMG_2043And talking about money, it comes in at £6.99, the same price as its sister wines Jewel of Nasik Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Jewel of Nasik Zinfandel Rosé 2013.

I’m always one for a challenge and a glass of something new. M&S has worked with Sula Vineyards high up in the hills of Maharashtra north-east of Mumbai to bring this range of wines to our shores. Sula’s grapes are harvested during the dry season, to avoid the monsoon.

The sauvignon blanc was a crisp, citrus and gooseberry burst, with some herbs and a touch of stone fruit. M&S recommend you try it with chicken tikka masala.

Jewel of Nasik Zinfandel Rosé 2013, is salmon-pink deep and plump with fresh and dried strawberries. If you enjoy rosé then I can’t see any reason why you won’t like this; for me it was another rosé. It was OK. Again, M&S recommend either tandoori tiger prawns or monkfish tikka.

Jewel of Nasik Tempranillo Syrah 2013, is medium-bodied with deep cherry and blackberries. These two grapes are known for their intense peppery sprinkles, and this wine is no exception. Lamb rogan josh, say the M&S foodies.

Am liking all the food in these pairings; but these are old world grapes in a New World environment. Just  take a simple route … try them on their own.

Abbotts & Delaunay Zephyr Limoux
Abbotts & Delaunay Zephyr Limoux

Also in my glass … For a special occasion try Abbotts & Delaunay Zephyr Limoux (£16.99, www.averys.com), made from 100% handpicked chardonnay grapes created by a boutique winery in the Languedoc Roussillon region. It’s a subtle chardonnay humming with apricot and marzipan, and with a citrus in-the-mouth linger, akin to lemon tart.

This column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine July 19   2014