World Cup gives wine-loving girlies an excuse to go Brazil nuts

Carnival Sparkling Moscato

THESE fair islands of ours have been pretty hopeless in the World Cup.  England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Are we there or thereabouts in the final stages?

Are we heck. Though it shouldn’t stop us settling down to watch the World Cup Final with a glass or two of vino.

The eventual arrival of the World Cup on our screens was an exciting moment. I love football. I love wine (you’ve probably noticed).

Coconova Brut NV
Coconova Brut NV

The marketing machine for Brazilian wines has been full pelt for at least a year and who can blame them. Eyes centre stage on the country full of carnival and pizzazz.

I found some Brazilian wines from M&S, which has been stocking them since March for the footie fest One thing you can say about the labels is they are full on carnival.

What of the wines though? I shared them at a girlie night where footie wasn’t a priority (so I couldn’t talk about Tim Cahill’s amazing goal against the Dutch).

I made it hard for them by wrapping the bottles in foil, so no clues and they had to write down their thoughts. We started off with Coconova Brut NV, (£8.99).

The girlies spotted peach aromas in this sparkler, a blend of sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, and verdejo. One girlie: “It gives you a pang, making you screw your face up”.  I thought, great label great name, grapey with background tangerines.

Carnival Sparkling Moscato NV, (£9.99). One girlie, ”no scent, sweet, nice, smooth”. Another girlie, “sweet vanilla”. For me, a sweet fizz of lemon sorbet but shallow on flavour.

Araucaria Riesling Pinot Grigio 2013
Araucaria Riesling Pinot Grigio 2013

Araucaria Riesling Pinot Grigio 2013, (£8.49). It takes a lot to encourage me to try a pinot grigio, but the blend with riesling was enough of an excuse. The girlies: “Nice” “doesn’t smell of much” and “apple”. Me? It was OK; I’ve had much better for the price but thank goodness for the riesling to give the grigio a fruity dimension and depth.

Intenso Teroldego 2013, (£9.99). Teroldgo isn’t a grape I’ve come across before so open minds here. Girls: “fruity” “smoky” “blackurrant”. I say, enjoyable juicy bursts of blackberries and herbs.

Also in my glass … July heralds the start of 31 Days of Riesling, an initiative by Wines of Germany. I love riesling and don’t really need an “initiative” to enjoy it, but nevertheless, here are some thoughts.

The lovely Wines of Germany people suggested I try goats cheese salad with pear and walnuts with Mineralstein Riesling (Marks & Spencer, £8.99). I’m not a goats’ cheese fan so I used feta, and it was scrums. The wine is a blend of riesling from Mosel and Pfalz and contrasts fruity pears, a wet slate of minerality and a dash of spice.

Mineralstein Riesling
Mineralstein Riesling

I flash-fried some prawns with garlic and chilli and added coriander and a squeeze of lemon.  Crusty bread and Devil’s Rock Riesling (Co-op, £6.99) were the finishing touches. Devil’s Rock 2013 vintage won bronze at the recently announced Decanter World Wine Awards. It is full of zesty lemon, lime and grapefruit and was zingy-licious with the spicy prawns.

Another riesling – kind of – worthy of mention is from Alsace and specifically, the ever-reliable Wine Society (www.thewinesociety.com). The Society’s Vin d’Alsace, Hugel (£8.50) is “kind of” a riesling because it is a blend including sylvaner, pinot blanc, riesling, pinot gris with gewurztraminer and muscat. That’s a mouthful in more ways than one.   A great choice for a summer’s day; citrus, pears and hums of honey with a bitey-blitz of acidity.

Jane Clare and just a bit of wine tasting fun
Just a bit of wine tasting girlie night fun

This column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine July 5  2014 

Wine Press: German pinot gris is perfection as food partner

Salwey Pinot Gris wine

Bacon and onion tart may not sound like a culinary dream – but with a glass of superb German pinot gris wine it can feel like luxury.

I fancied some German pinot gris and came across a recommendation to drink it with Zwiebelkuchen, which is a traditional German baked dish of dough covered with onion and bacon,  and egg and creme fraiche.

So I did.

I Googled and found a recipe easily enough and even with making dough from scratch this golden-topped open pie was rustled up in less than 40 minutes.Salwey Pinot Gris wine

With it, a glass of Salwey Pinot Gris 2011 from Baden (£13.20 www.tanners-wines.co.uk) was perfection.

Now this pinot gris is miles apart from its flavour-thin mass produced pinot grigio cousin from Italy.

If you’re browsing German labels, you’ll see grauburgunder (a dry wine) or ruländer (a sweeter version).

I met Konrad Salwey, the producer of my pinot gris, some months ago and he enthused about his wine which was born out of the volcanic soils in Baden.

It has nectarines, pears and lemons on the nose and an excitable scythe-like acidity tremors and teases your tastebuds long after the last drop of wine has slipped down your throat.

There’s a rich, fulsome spiciness which perfectly complemented the creamy, peppery pie topping.

Konrad told me that his own preference was to have the wine with mushroom risotto or creamy pasta.

I hunted around for a couple of other German pinot gris.

Palataia Pinot Grigio 2012 (Marks & Spencer, £8.49) is from the Pfalz and blends pinot gris with 15% pinot blanc. It is a bright, crisp, mountain-fresh trickle of apples lemons and pears.

Klein Pinot Gris 2012 (www.nakedwines.com,  £11.99 or £8.99 if you’re an investing Angel) lacks the creamy depth of the Salwey but has fresh citrus and stone fruits on the nose and a good, balanced zesty finish with tickly spice.

For more information on German wines you can go to www.winesofgermany.co.uk

Also in my glass… medal-winning Trivento Reserve Malbec 2012 (Tesco, £8.99) was a plummy, datey, mouthful with a nose like a walk through a warm, autumn forest. It  came into its own with a hearty chorizo-laced pasta and suits powerful flavours superbly.

Published in the saturday extra magazine November 9, 2013

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