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

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

Torres Natureo ‘wines’ might help the Dry January blues

Torres Natureo Red low alcohol wine review

If you’ve managed to get this far into 2015 without touching a drop of alcohol, then well done. Not long to go now, my Dry January heroes. Soon you can have a February glass of something.

For those of you with a detox backbone, here’s a trio of wines, which aren’t wines any more. Let me explain.

The Torres Natureo range – white red and rosé – all started life as a wine. They were produced from muscat grapes (white) syrah (red) and a blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon (rosé).

Torres Natureo low alcohol wine review
Torres Natureo low alcohol wines

They are made traditionally then de-alcoholised using a canny extraction system which, I’m told, “keeps all the grape’s aromas, antioxidants, vitamins and mineral salts, leaving only the barest trace of alcohol (0.5 per cent) and 25-35 calories in a glass”.

Torres Natureo White (RRP £5, ASDA, Waitrose, Ocado, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Noble Green, It is a pale yellow, with bright aromas of grapes, lemons and crisp green apples. When you taste, it squeaks a sweet-cheek lively slice of apples and limes which really starts your tastebuds watering. It’s a palate cleanser that’s for sure, but for some it might just be too sweet.

Torres Natureo Red (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, Hoults, Noble Green, smells of redcurrants squished and squashed on top of a vanilla cheesecake. It was a deep red fruit juice, such as a blend of pomegranate and cranberry; a liquidised fruit pastille. I really missed a backdrop of alcohol in this red; but with it, well it wouldn’t be Natureo would it.

Torres Natureo Rosé (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, The, Last Drop Wines, which is a light mauve. Red berries and blackcurrants hover on the edge of the glass. If you like your rosé sweet you will probably like this. I thought it was thin and lacking in substance.

In other news, I have a new fridge gadget, which delivers ice at the click of a button. I clicked and crackled some ice into each of the Natureo styles.

Torres Natureo low alcohol wines review
Try with a drop of ice!

The white was very refreshing; the red should make a nice base for a non-alcoholic icy fruit mocktail. The rosé remained unassuming.

Also in my glass…

It’s Australia Day on January 26 and our Aussie cousins will be enjoying the sunshine, lighting up the barbie and no doubt opening a good hearty Australian shiraz to mark the occasion.

So if you can’t beat them …. Wirra Wirra Catapult 2012 (RRP £14.50, M&S, Oddbins) is a deep red, sturdy and forthright, a no-messing Aussie shiraz.

Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz review
Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz

There’s plums on the nose, chocolate, chopped wood and a savoury whisper. It flits in the mouth from bursting red berries to spice and herbs. There’s a feather touch of floral viognier, as the winemakers have followed a wine-making style from the northern Rhone by adding a tiny percentage of the grape to the fermentation process.

Also from Wirra Wirra, an unoaked chardonnay. If you cast aside Aussie chardonnay because you think it is all over-oaked, then Scrubby Rise Unoaked Chardonnay (RRP £9.99 Tesco) should surprise. It is clean and bright, crisp and lemony, with undercurrents of peach and nectarine.

Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 review
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013

Then, finally, a frizzly sweet delight. Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 is £7.99 from Ocado and I just love the name. Mrs Wigley was a pussy cat which made herself perfectly at home in the Wirra Wirra vineyards in McLaren Vale.

This is a take-it-easy January 4.5% abv and has wisps of roses, dried strawberry and flowers with a gentle melon and sherbert spritz. Close your eyes and wish away the winter.

Published in the saturday extra magazine January 24, 2015

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