Wine Press: National Burger Day and red wines to disguise disasters

National Burger Day red wines

I MADE burgers the other day. I needed burgers for the barbie. There weren’t any in the shops. I could have flattened meatballs, but I felt sorry for them, sitting there pert and plump and perfect and expectant. I would have felt like I’d squashed a fly.

So I made some. Perfect timing too, as this coming Wednesday, t’internet tells me, is National Burger Day. (Not for the first time, I’m in fashion. I was the first in my class to get a Bay City Rollers scarf.)

I was fine making the burgers, cooking them on the new-fangled barbie kettle thing was, shall we say, frazzling.

If you want to follow my burger barbie trend I suggest you choose wines with a smoky overtone and a spicy “bite”.

The SPAR Rioja La Catedral (£5.59) won a Silver Outstanding Award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition a few weeks ago. Its intense red berries firmly flamenco with a burger no matter how burned it is. (I should know).

Over at the Co-op, some red deals this month should add spark to your sparks.

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2009 (£7.99, was £10.99). Another award-winner. It picked up a bronze at this year’s Decanter awards, where judges described it as having a “voluptuous nose of raspberry, redcurrant and plum with a hint of earthiness and sweet spice”. You know that really tomatoey and spicy jalapeno pickle you can get? Gives a kiss of life to a black-rimmed burger, and partners with this rioja perfectly. American oak in the ageing process has added coconut and toffee aromas to this lovely Spanish wine. Olè.

National Burger Day: Co-op Châteauneuf du Pape
Co-op Châteauneuf du Pape

The Co-operative Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 (£12.99, was £15.99). Four grapes make up this blend; grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and cinsault and the Co-op has sourced the wine from the cellars of Clos de l’Oratoire des Pape (I found a bottle online at Sainsbury’s for £20.25). The Co-op’s offering is a fruity punch of a wine with cherries and blackberries sprinkled with pepper which drinks well on its own, let alone beefed up with burgers.

wines and burgers
Château Sainte Marthe 2012

A final red Co-op thought; Château Sainte Marthe 2012 (£5.99 from £7.99) a blend of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre with syrah as the dominant partner. Blackberries and a savoury tone of mushrooms and woodiness greet your nose in the glass, with a dry tongue-tip finish clothed in more blackberries.

A big bolshie pairing with any burger would be an Aussie shiraz and one to glug into my glass has been The Pullhams Bin 22 Barossa Valley Shiraz (£12.99, from Virgin Wines. Though as I write I’ve spotted that it is now £9.74 a bottle). I didn’t mention the charcoaled chipolatas I served up with my burgers. Well, the Bin 22 saved my shame.

National Burger Day: The Pullhams Bin 22 Barossa Valley Shiraz, Virgin Wines
The Pullhams Bin 22 Barossa Valley Shiraz

The Virgin marketing types say it is “bonza with charred steak”. Deep red, the boxing ring flavours deliver a punch of black cherries and plums while some fancy delicate footwork flirts with grass verge herbs.

For all of the above, substitute a nice Sunday roast for burned burgers. Might be best.

Also in my glass …. Edna Valley Vineyard 2012 Central Coast Chardonnay and Edna Valley Vineyard 2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir, both at Majestic, £11.99, or £8.99 each when you buy two, until September 1.

A brother and sister from a winery in the San Luis Obispo county, California, the pinot noir is graceful with cherries and a peck of earthy pepper providing a gentle red embrace to a Friday night steak with a knife-smear of French mustard. The chardonnay is a greengrocer’s shelf of fruit with a good bite of acidity to excite those tastebuds.

This column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine August 23,  2014 

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

Celebrate Tour de France with Bicicleta wines from Cono Sur

Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc review

I’M NOT known for my fitness levels, but I‘m pretty good at running to a bar at last orders. So cycling? Not a chance. And don’t even think about me in Lycra. No. Don’t. 

But watching cycling is a different matter, and next weekend the much-heralded Tour de France 2014 begins in Yorkshire.
York prepares for the Grand Depart 2014
I was lucky enough to be in York the week before it prepared for the Grand Depart Tour de France 2014
York prepares for the Grand Depart
York prepares for the Grand Depart

For Chilean winemakers Cono Sur the bicycle is a symbol of the winery’s commitment to sustainability, with  workers travelling around the estate on environmentally friendly bikes.  The symbol on the Bicicleta range is a bike.  Naturally.

So it seems to make perfect sense that  Cono Sur is an Official Supporter of the Grand Départ du Tour de France 2014.
There’s  several wines in the range, but  Bicicleta ‘heroes’  for the Grand Départ are sauvignon blanc, viognier, pinot noir, and merlot.
And there’s plenty of mileage in each of them.
Whites: The sauvignon blanc is typically fresh and grassy with gooseberry and green pepper skin. The viognier is a perfumed cloud of apricots, tinned mandarins, and orange blossom. It delivers mouthfuls of bright peach. Very nice indeed.
Cono sur bicicleta pinot noir wine reviews
Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir
Reds: The pinot noir has a savoury mushroomy nose and pecks of spice. It is black-fruity rich with fine tannins and is perfect with roast beef on a Sunday. The merlot packs a velvet-gloved punch with plums and blackberries and just the hint of toastiness.
There are several supermarket offers around on the Bicicleta range to mark Le Tour. Shop around and you could get all four wines for just over £20 and you can’t complain at that.
Cono Sur Bicicleta wine review
Cono Sur Bicicleta

Tesco: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are reduced to £5 from July 2 to  August 12.

Sainsbury: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are reduced to £5.49 from  July 2 to July 22.

Morrisons: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Merlot are reduced to £5.49 from July 20.
Asda: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are £5   to August 1.

To continue the Tour theme,  Sainsbury’s has selected seven French

wines to mark places “en route” which you can enjoy from the comfort of your armchair. Wear cycling shorts if you must to get in the zone. Here’s three of them … Taste the Difference Alsace Gewürtztraminer 2013  (£8) is a flurry of lychees and roses and a thoroughly enjoyable wine.

Taste the Difference Beaujolais Villages 2013 (£7.25). There’s beaujolais and then  there’s beaujolais villages  … this  is a step above the basic (ignoring nouveau here) and only certain villages are allowed to  class their wines as such.

This was awash with red berries and was a juicy fruity light  refreshing garden treat.

 Taste the Difference Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013 (£8) is a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah. If you haven’t had a rosé yet this summer why not? This is crisp, dry, with a good bite of cherries and strawberries  from  Provence in  the south of France. Think of those chappies cycling away and just enjoy.

Les Jamelles Syrah 2012
Les Jamelles Syrah 2012
Also in my glass …   staying in France,  Les Jamelles Syrah 2012 (£6.49, the  Co-op). This dark  red beauty from the Languedoc won a silver outstanding medal at the 2013 International Wine and  Spirit Competition.  It has bowls full of ripe bramble fruits and is lush and deep and herby too.