Wine Press: Mother’s Day wines and special treats

Mums are special and it’s only right they have a special day. And on their special day, it’s only right they have a special treat.

My idea of such a treat is a lovely glass of wine for Mother’s Day.

I’m going to launch straight in with a handful of extraordinary wines, at prices more than average.

Why would mum like them? Well, mums like a treat, but make sure if you buy something like this it really is a treat for mum; not one you sip sneakily.

Some of my favourite wines are from Germany, and they are too often overlooked.

Oliver Zeter Pinot Noir Reserve 2010
Oliver Zeter Pinot Noir Reserve 2010

Oliver Zeter Pinot Noir Reserve 2010 (£27.99, redsquirrelwine.com) Well, at nearly £30 you’d want to be confident mum would like this. I’m pretty sure she would if she’s a fan of pinot noir.

All of the wines from German brothers Oliver and Christian Zeter include an illustration of a bear on the label. This one is a big cuddly bear of a wine, with the aroma of mushrooms picked from dewy dawn undergrowth. There are lots and lots of cherries, raspberries and a freckle of spice. I loved it. It’s more of a treat when you discover that only 2,800 bottles of this vintage were made.

Prinz von Hessen Dachsfilest Riesling 2013, (£25.95, Slurp.co.uk) has a limey burst on the nose with a lift of floral and just a temptation of honey. Then a wave of tropical fruit. Why would mum like this? German rieslings are among the best in the world. Don’t think sickly warm German hock; think beautiful bright white perfection.

Prinz von Hessen Dachsfilest Riesling 2013
Prinz von Hessen Dachsfilest Riesling 2013

A pretty opaque white champagne bottle enshrouds newly launched Canard Duchene Charles VII Smooth Rosé NV (RRP £31.50, www.thechampagnecompany.com). The light pink champagne rosé is a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. It has delicate aromas of berries and each sip is a strawberry and redcurrant compote.

If budgets are a bit more modest, how about these:

Blackfoot Daisy Pinot Grigio (£8.99, Virgin Wines) is a flavour tumble of Sunday apple pie, pears and a knife-edge squeeze of lime. I enjoyed every mouthful of this wine from Australia, which is saying something as pinot grigio is a wine I usually avoid. The fruity aromas led to a button-bright flavour and crisp fruity finish.

Winemakers’ Selection Moscato
Winemakers’ Selection Moscato

For a sweet, fresh, light, fruity drop of a sparkle then Winemakers’ Selection Moscato (Sainsbury, £6.50) is a nice one to try. It’s only 7% abv so light on the alcohol, as well as being good on the pocket. It would make a brilliant light sparkle in the garden, but for Mothers’ Day would add a peachy zizz-zazz to a pretty dessert. Its sherberty sweetness is very moreish indeed, specially when chilled for a long time.

Over at the Co-op Valdo Prosecco Treviso DOC Extra Dry NV (£6.99 down from £10.49 until March 17) ticks all the boxes where prosecco is concerned. Delicate, lovely and bubbly, pears and apples, What’s not to like in a prosecco? For a mum’s red, save £3 on   reduced to £9.99 until the end of the month at Tesco. It’s a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon, Aromas of chunky cherry and in the mouth, plums pack a spicy punch.

Also in my glass …. There’s some deep red gorgeous, rich, scrummy Languedoc reds from Calmel & Joseph. They have an RRP of £11.99 at independents including Daniel Lambert Wines, Loki Wines and Richard Granger Wine and are sun in a glass.

Calmel & Joseph Vieux Carignan Côtes du Brian owes its very existence to vines planted in 1890. No dilly dallying around, the flavour is slightly savoury, some herbs, pecks of pepper and the red fruits surge through. Keep an eye out for the equally delightful Saint Chinian (wild herbs and spice) and Corbieres (red and black fruits with a lick of liquorice).

Published in the saturday extra magazine March 7, 2015

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A girlie night and three red Aldi wines to enjoy

Aldi Venturer range UK wine review

I had a girlie night out on Saturday. It started as a girlie night in and then for a few hours it was a girlie night out and then a girlie night back in.

I’d taken some red wines as a bit of a treat; an inexpensive treat too.  A couple of Aldi wines came in at less than a tenner.

My girlie friends are used to me saying, as we raise our glasses, “swirl!!!” “smell!!!”  “sip!!!”.  I don’t bother when we’re drinking lager, as that would just look silly.

IMG_2816I shouted my catchphrase on Saturday night. It was late, we’d been out, and we were back in. We swirled and sniffed.  We knew we liked the wine (Aldi’s Venturer Nero D’Avola, £4.79 )and we all said “cherries”, and someone said “earthy”.

Aldi Venturer Nero D'Avola wine review
Aldi Venturer Nero D’Avola

IMG_2816We were excited. Just a couple of years ago we’d have reached for the Robbie Williams CD after tripping over the kicked-off shoes without pausing for breath.

Now we’re all grown up. For five minutes we talked about the wine. Why we liked it; whether it was nicer than one we’d had last time; where it came from; what it tasted like.  Would we have it again?

I couldn’t remember much than that to be honest, so  I’ve reprised the evening and for less than £15 bought the Nero D’Avola again, along with Aldi’s Venturer Costiere de Nimes and Aldi’s Venturer Old Vines Garnacha. (They’re all £4.79 at the moment).

Nero D’Avola is Sicily’s signature grape.  Despite upwards of 40 degree heat, the vines manage to produce grapes which deliver punchy wines. The purple labelling Aldi has clothed this wine in complement the dark red cherry aromas and dried twigs. Some menthol and green peppercorns  too.  (Go on, sniff. It’s a Scientific Experiment). The tannins aren’t bad. Not too dry; and the wine delivers an earthy taste with black cherries.

Aldi Venturer Costieres de Nimes wine review
Aldi Venturer Costieres de Nimes

Costiere de Nimes is from the southern Rhône Valley.  Rounded and fruity; berries and brambles sprinkled with some dried mixed herbs (metaphorically, obviously) and black pepper.  It’s fruitier than the others, with the aroma of a summer pudding far away, just out of reach … you can’t grasp it but you know it’s there somewhere.

Old Vines Garnacha. Upstanding in its golden Aldi livery; like a soldier’s uniform from the High Chaparral (everyone under the age of 40 looks that one up.)

We’ve had Sicily, then France, now we have grapes from Spain; grapes grown on old vines no less. Old vines don’t produce as many grapes as in their younger days, but the fruits are more concentrated and flavour-packed.

Aldi Venturer Old Vines Garnacha wine review
Aldi Venturer Old Vines Garnacha

Here we have jammy fruit … cherries and strawberries, really concentrated like those little cubes of jelly before they dissolve. An acidic buzz leaves your mouth watering, with just a dab of tannic dryness.

Such fun. I love my Scientific Experiments without a Petri dish in sight.


Also in my glass

This girlie, as you know, likes a sparklie and one of my favourite discoveries in recent years is  brachetto d’acqui,  a delightful deep pink wine from Piedmont in Italy.  I’ve tried a handful of these, the latest  Araldica Brachetto d’Acqui Il Cascinone 2011 (£10.99, www.virginwines.co.uk)

It’s only 5% ABV and if you don’t like wines with the slightest of sweetness, then by Jove this may not be for you.

I once went picking strawberries and managed to squash most of them on the way home. This wine reminds me of that day and the fresh fruity juice that was left.

Newly-picked strawberries, freshly squeezed. But hey… it has the extra treat of bubbles, a gentle frizz, not an extravagant sparkle. You could think Lambrusco, but this has style. I love it.

This column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine September 27,  2014 

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