German wine: Four picks to enjoy this summer

Peter & Ulrich Dry Riesling German wine

I don’t need a reason to try German wine, but I’m giving myself two reasons. The team from Wines of Germany (it promotes wines from Germany) has had a busy few weeks.

The winners in its annual Top 50 German wines competition have been announced and this month (July)  its  annual  31 Days of German riesling campaign  is underway. It encourages us all  to give German riesling a High Five.  And why not.

Here’s four German wine choices from me. 

German wine: Two from the Top 50

My choices both come from the Co-op and are under £6. How good is that.

The first,  Kleine Kapelle Pinot Grigio 2015 (12.5% abv, £5.79) was described by  judges as was “well made and excellent value”. It is indeed. For just over a fiver you get a wine  which fairly pops in the mouth with tropical fruit, but has clean lines, is upright, balanced and elegant.

Devil’s Rock Riesling 2015 (12.5% abv, £5.99) tangs with a bite of apple and flickers with a fleck of herb. Zesty grapefruit and lime say “hey we’re here too” which together makes for a perfect glass of zingy wine. I’d cooked Thai-style minced pork and this wine was ideal alongside (prawns or fish would be even better).

German wine: A couple of rieslings 

Peter & Ulrich Dry Riesling (12% abv, £11.99 or £9.99 if you buy six at Majestic) is a bone dry wine with aromas of  apple and peach; and then on the palate  flavours of  peach, apple and apricot giddy along to water your mouth, finishing off with a slight minerality.  Moreish.

Dr Loosen Extra Dry Riesling Sekt (12.5% abv, RRP £16.99 from various retailers including www.thesecretcellar.co.uk and www.southdownscellars.co.uk) It baffles me that people get panicky about prosecco shortages when there’s other lovely sparklies to be had. Elderflower aromas from this sparkling German wine fluttered from the glass, together with fresh green apples, herbs and hedgerows. So much in a nose! Then to taste, flavours of crisp apples played happily in a clean refreshing, satisfying fizz.
(This wine was also included in the Top 50 winning German wines.) 

Read more about the Top 50 German wines at www.winesofgermany.co.uk/top-50.  To find out if a restaurant or wine merchant near you is holding any 31 Days of Riesling events click on www.31daysofgermanriesling.co.uk You can follow @WinesofGermany on Twitter.
First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals July 2016

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Six Italian wines from the Co-op (and one Trophy winner!)

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fiano 2014

THE Co-op white wine Truly Irresistible Fiano 2014 has picked up the Great Value White under £7 trophy from the International Wine Challenge.  I spent an afternoon with the man who brought the wine to the shelves,  the Co-op’s Italian wines buyer,  Ben Cahill.

First, I asked Ben what he would say to people who don’t buy Italian wines.

He said: “Italy is not renowned for its wines – people think cheap gluggable whites or chianti – but the quality has improved immeasurably. There’s been a renaissance; over the last 30 years Italy has enjoyed an absolute revolution.”

He said: “Now’s the time to try Italian wines if you haven’t already. If I had less than a tenner to spend on a bottle and I wanted something exciting then Italy is the first country I’d make a beeline for.

“The majority of reds  are  food friendly and the quality of whites has gone through the roof.”

Ben Cahill Co-op wine buyer
Ben Cahill

Italian wines: Here’s three whites and three reds from the Co-op’s range

The Co-operative Orvieto Classico (£5.49) This is definitely an alternative to pinot grigio as it’s just a bit more interesting (well, most things are). It is crisp, clean, revitalising, with more body, and  more rounded than pinot grigio, slightly  honeyed, almondy with a good balance between acidity and fruit.  If you like a PG and fancy a change, but not too much of a change, go for it.

Gavi La Luciani (£7.49)  This is very pretty and feminine, with a contrast between floral notes and stony minerality. A touch of lime lingers at the back of the mouth after you swallow, giving both an extra bite and a mouth-watering moreishness. It’s a wine to have in the fridge ready to chink chink on a sunny day.

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fiano (£6.99) Golden in colour, quite rich, with aromas which hopscotch between citrus, herbs, and flowers. I’d recently cooked a risotto with this (I drank some too!) and it was interesting to see how the same vintage – 2014 – had developed. It has more weight than the gavi and the orvieto, and felt  comfortable in its soul.

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Barbera d’Asti (£6.99)  This has a fair amount of tannin and structure but wasn’t mouth drying. It had a slight smokiness, with aromas of cherries, bramble fruit, wild blackberries, dried leaves and a hint of savoury. So much going on!  

Bibbiano Chianti Classico (£9.99) Ben has brought this wine exclusively to the Co-op. Bibbiano supplies top-notch restaurants and he explored further and developed a partnership which has seen a slight tweak on the blend, but with the same winemaking expertise behind it.  It is a great  example of its type for less than £10. It would be fantastic with tomato-lashed spaghetti.

Villa Annaberta Amarone della Valpolicella (£17.99) I love the story of amarone wine. Time and skill is invested in making it, hence the price tag, but it’s worth it. Grapes are dried on racks before being fermented and the result is a wine that is very rich, almost a port, with  a slightly unctuous weight in the mouth. Enjoy with cheese instead of port – or simply sit in a comfy chair in front of a fire and wallow in selfish tranquility.

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First published in the saturday extra magazine February 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express