Wine review: McGuigan Classic Semillon Blanc 2012

McGuigan has consistently won many awards. Winemaker Neil  McGuigan  made history by being the  first person to be named world’s best  winemaker in three out of four years. John Torode has joined forces with McGuigan to create an exclusive recipe collection. I tried this wine with green curry barbecue chicken. Continue reading “Wine review: McGuigan Classic Semillon Blanc 2012”

The small print:

South Eastern Australia – 12% abv – Grape: semillon – Buy: Tesco, Sainsbury –  Price: £7.99 – screwcap – 2012 – Tasted Feb 23 2014

Food matches

Veggies, Thai food, Mediterranean food, chicken with creamy sauce

What it says on the vin:

At McGuigan we are passionate about trying to evolve our wine styles to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. With this in mind I challenged my winemakers to create a new wine style based on the classic Australian variety Semillon. We wanted to retain the vibrant citrus characters, naturally low alcohol and great ageing potential of semillon whilst creating a modern approachable style.

Out of the 18 great wines there was one clear standout chosen; the result is a totally new style of Semillon with lifted aromatics, texture, elegance and length. The wine is fresh, crisp and packed full of tropical fruit. – Neil McGuigan

McGuigan Classic Semillon Blanc 2012
McGuigan Classic Semillon Blanc 2012

In my glass:

Pale lemon; creamy guava, lychee and lemon. Medium acidity which doesn’t overpower but allows the fresh tropical fruits to be at the fore. Lovely and juicy and freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice with freshly scrunched lemon geranium leaves.

  • Find out more from the McGuigan website here 

 In my wine glass: McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay, 2011, Adelaide Hills

Sauternes: A perfect pairing with Moroccan chicken

Noble rot, Sauternes

Winemaking is like art. Making Sauternes is art beyond art – it is the Leonardo de Vinci of winemaking.

Those aren’t my words, but those of a wine producer I met in Bordeaux. Crikey. I so love Sauternes, the unctuous sweet wine.

No, no, don’t stop reading.

If I’m preaching to the converted, apologies. But if you’ve never tried Sauternes, or any other so-called dessert wines, then humour me.

Noble rot – botrytis – is a fungus essential to Sauternes. In the sweet wine region of Bordeaux morning mists form over the river Ciron, then sunny afternoons,  create ideal conditions for the fungus to grow on sémillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle grapes.

Sauternes village church from Château d’Arche
Sauternes village church from Château d’Arche

I picked a grape from  a vine at Château d’Arche on a hill above Sauternes village church. It had begun to show the signs of noble rot and was  concentrated and raisiny.  This was  just before the 2013 harvest. Then grapes would be picked one by one; day by day for several days. That’s each and every single grape; picked at the exact time it has reached perfection.

I met Jérôme Cosson at Château d’Arche and chef Georges Gotrand who exploded the myth that Sauternes should only be served with desserts and cheeses.  In that part of the world Sauternes is enjoyed  throughout the meal. Or even as a well-chilled aperitif – and why not?

Sauternes food and wine pairing
Sauternes food and wine pairing

A toasted baton, spread with roasted espelette chillis, ham and  sliced scallops  was delicious with a glass of Monsieur Cosson’s finest. Chicken thighs roasted and basted in Sauternes for the last 15 minutes were a revelation.

Chef told me that Sauternes works well with Moroccan spices. So at home, I roasted chicken in ras el hanout spices.

L’ilot de Haut Bergeron Sauternes 2010

For under a tenner, L’ilot de Haut Bergeron Sauternes 2010 (£9.99, M&S half bottle) is a fantastic start if you’ve never tried Sauternes.

There are aromas of dry honey, candied citrus  and marmalade – the thick-cut kind from big fat Seville oranges;  a fleck of lavender too.  To taste, long-lasting honey richness but with lemon running through it. And thank you chef – it was amazing with the chicken.

Other supermarket Sauternes to look out for are Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Sauternes 2010 (from £12.99) and Waitrose Sauternes Château Suduiraut 2007 (£16.99). Both 37.5cl.

Chateau d’Arche 2001 Grand Cru Classé is £60 at Majestic and Chateau d’Arche 1997 2ème Grand Cru Classé is £27 from Laithwaites.


This column first appeared in the saturday magazine October 26 2013
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