Gallo Fine Wine California wine

Raise a Glass: Drinks for summer include Californian delights

The Raise a Glass feature is published every week … here’s one from the middle of July when we were beginning to see lockdown ease. But I’m still a stay-at-home bunny enjoying my drinks for summer.


I’m not likely to be leaving the country any time soon to visit vineyards and wine regions, but I’m lucky that the fruits of them can still make their way to me.

By “fruits” I don’t mean literally the grapes – that would be silly – but the wines. Ah yes, some lovely wines.

I was happy to welcome into my lockdown home  – thanks to a video meeting and a van delivery – a couple of wine experts and a couple of Californian wines newly-released into Majestic.

Californian wines are perfect drinks for summer

This red wine is a shoo-in for a special treat.

I absolutely loved Bear Flag Zinfandel 2017 (£24.99, or £22.49 in a buy six deal). It hails from Sonoma in California with most of its grapes sourced from the wonderfully named Dry Creek Valley.

It’s a wine which just keeps on giving. Blueberry and bilberry fruits fill the senses, while the softness of vanilla and a spikiness of spice add wonderful dimensions. The flavours linger so long.

Also into Majestic is a premium Californian chardonnay which is ripe and rich and equally delicious: Talbott ‘Kali Hart’ Chardonnay 2018 (£24.99, or £19.99 in a buy six deal).

Edoaurd Baijot MW (Head of Fine Wine for Gallo) talks us through the Bear Flag

[Thanks to Gallo’s Fine Wine Team for setting up an exclusive video tasting, top, with Edoaurd Baijot MW – Head of Fine Wine for Gallo, above]

The grapes are grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a few miles from Monterey Bay.

I want to be there right now! It sounds an amazing place, and it is home to this amazing wine.

The use of new French oak barrels as part of the winemaking have added a flavoursome depth of vanilla and cream to this wine.

It also sings with tropical fruits such as pineapple and mandarins.

As a final flourish a delightful acidity helps deliver a freshness as you continue to savour the taste long after the last sip.

An en rama sherry as the sun dipped in the sky

On another day, I nipped over to Spain, theoretically of course.

If you like your sherry, then take note that Tio Pepe En Rama 2020 – a special, fresh style of fino – has now been released.

This is the 11th edition of this fino sherry which is bottled every Spring unclarified and unfiltered (hence the name en rama).

In the late afternoon when the sun dipped behind the roofs at the back of my house and the birds began to chirrup around some sunflower seeds, I sat outside and sipped this sherry with some pick-at-me nibbles of cheese and chorizo.

 Tio Pepe en rama drinks for summer

The sherry (RRP £15.95, 75cl, including Lea & Sandeman, Master of Malt, Whisky Exchange) is yeasty and savoury with highlights of almonds, citrus and green apples.

I imagined I was in Spain until the reverie was broken when my doorbell rang and the dog went crazy. It was absolute chaos.

We might be easing into the light from lockdown but things – as we know  – are still very challenging.

The producers of Tio Pepe – Gonzalez Byass UK – are donating the profit from the bottling to The Drinks Trust to help people in the industry most in need.

As a postscript … I’ve just had a sip of an old favourite, as I both grilled, and then ate, sausages.

Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Red 2018 (RRP £8 Asda, Tesco) is a perfect barbecue wine but in my instance, I was a prisoner in the kitchen as it poured down outside.

It is a ripe, jammy wine, with a flirtation with spice which suited my sausages perfectly and helped me relax.

Then the dog sniffed the sausages and went crazy. Again.


First published in UK regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

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