Wines for Kirsten O’Brien’s BBC show
I’m with Kirsten O’Brien today, on BBC Radio Berkshire, and these are the drinks we’re discussing, with stockist details if we’ve inspired you to try them.
The gin boom is well documented, but I confess I am sceptical about some of the new breed of ‘flavoured gins’, the likes of strawberry, chocolate, mint, you name it… I like my gin to taste of juniper, its base ingredient. So I was surprised and delighted to try Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin (normally £35, but currently £29 on promotion until November 3rd at the majority of Waitrose stores). I wondered if it might resemble a sloe gin, which can be a bit sweet, but it actually doesn’t. Shiraz grapes are steeped in high quality gin for eight weeks. The result is bursting with berries and spice, but – most importantly – you can still tell that it’s a gin, thanks to those distinctive botanicals.
Talking of booms, the English (and Welsh) wine scene is electrifying at the moment, with sparklers at the vanguard. Today’s we’re featuring a relatively new kid on the block, Hampshire’s Black Chalk, which has been scooping awards left, right and centre of late. Well done to the Wine Society’s smart buyers for getting on board this one, made by talented winemaker Jacob Leadley, who cut his teeth at the well known Hattingley Valley winery. Black Chalk Classic 2016 (£34 at The Wine Society) is wonderfully precise with stunning citrus, a stone fruit core and an elegant finish. It’s little wonder this wine scooped a top trophy at the IWSC this month, rubbing shoulders with high end Champagnes.
Our white wine is a mouthful in more ways than one, but it’s well worth seeking out. Pinot Blanc isn’t that well known in this country, but it’s a delicious variety that thrives in cooler climates like Germany’s Pfalz region. Hanewald-Schwerdt Weissburgunder Trocken 2019 (£14 at The Tasting House in the centre of Reading) is from a talented team of younger producers and it boasts lovely juicy fruit around a lean core of refreshing acidity.
Finally, our red was one of the standout stars at the recent Tesco trade tasting for journalists and critics like me. Tesco Finest Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues 2019 (normally £8 at Tesco, but currently £6, with 25% off until November 5th), a blend of Grenache and Syrah, offers comforting black cherries, blackberries and a grind of warm spice. Perfect for a winter’s night!