Posted on 07.06.20 #158

Summer wines for the BBC’s Bill Buckley

If you’re tuned in to Bill Buckley’s Sunday show on BBC Radio Berkshire and you’d like more detail on the wines we’re trying live on air, here you go:

Celebrations have taken on a different meaning in these challenging times, but we’re starting to hear about virtual weddings and Zoom birthday bashes, so we’re starting things with a bang. Most Champagne is ‘non vintage’, blended from different harvests to maintain consistency, but ‘Vintage Champagne’ offers us the chance to taste fruit from a specific year instead – and it’s only released in the best years. 2012 was one such year, presenting its challenges during the spring, but delivering perfect harvest conditions. Möet & Chandon Grand Reserve Vintage 2012 Champagne (Normally £53, but currently £39.72 if you buy six of any wine at Majestic stores and online) was aged for more than five years in the historic cellars at Epernay before being ‘disgorged’ and it offers remarkably fresh apple, apricot, honeycomb and toasted walnut bread, with a long classy finish.

Think Beaujolais, and rosé probably doesn’t spring to mind, but it should, because its signature red grape, Gamay, makes amazing pink wines as well. From Chateau des Lôges, Premier Bain Beaujolais rosé 2019 (£10.49, or £9.39 when you mix 12, at Laithwaite’s online or stores in Theale, Bracknell or Windsor) offers bright, juicy cherry fruit, pink grapefruit and a dusting of white pepper. A really refreshing summer wine, perfect for a picnic, the colour is a shade darker than Provence, but that means nothing. It’s also an absolutely beautiful label, which should also mean nothing, I suppose…

Viognier is so popular these days, it’s hard to believe it came close to vanishing 50 years ago. Thankfully, some cuttings made their way to Australia and it has been nurtured there by a few determined producers. Yalumba Organic Viognier (£10 at Tesco) is all about what they don’t do! Organic farming methods, as little intervention as possible and a spontaneous fermentation all help to deliver a wonderful expression of Viognier: floral, with pure, bright stone fruit and a lovely saline note. Viognier goes with just about everything, but try it with curry.

Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018 (£12 at Morrisons) offers silky red cherries and a twist of spice, from the sun-drenched, northernmost part of New Zealand’s South Island. Marlborough is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc of course, but if you haven’t tried its increasingly highly regarded Pinot Noir, you’re missing a treat. Family owned, Villa Maria is one of the country’s most famous names – I always refer to it as ‘the John Lewis of winemaking’ for its consistency – and it has been a pioneer in sustainability too.

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