My selection for the BBC’s Bill Buckley show
This week’s selection for Bill Buckley’s Sunday show on BBC Radio Berkshire, features a speciality vermouth, an English sparkler with a French pedigree, a great value Chardonnay that will support South Africa’s embattled wine industry and a Syrah that shows just what New Zealand can do, beyond Sauvignon Blanc.
Off the back of the craft gin boom, I think we are getting more daring with other options, like vermouth. Hotel Starlino Rosso (Amazon £22) comes from Torino, the birthplace of vermouth in the 18th century, and it’s a modern interpretation of an old world classic. Rich, red fruited, with ripe figs and a smoky orange note, it adds layers of luxury to a Negroni, but is also lovely served on its own with ice, for a slightly lighter aperitivo.
We all know English sparkling wine is on a roll, but here’s a novel twist. Louis Pommery England (Majestic Wine £34.99 on a Mix Six promo) is the first British sparkler to be launched by one of the great names in Champagne. Pommery marries the same ‘Traditional Method’ it uses back home with zippy English acidity, to create a scintillatingly crisp, fresh cuvée, with green apple, sourdough and honeycomb.
South African wine is in crisis, after the latest alcohol ban wiped out sales in its domestic market. The ban has now been lifted, but the damage is done, with half a million jobs depending on the industry. We can help, by buying the wines, which are delicious and incredibly well priced. Warwick Estate ‘The First Lady’ Chardonnay (£8 at Tesco) is a case in point. It really overdelivers, with zesty citrus, plump tropical fruit and a hint of vanilla spice.
Sauvignon Blanc has been so wildly successful that a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that it was all New Zealand produced. It’s time to try something different and Kiwi reds are just sensational. Pinot Noir is the most successful, but I have a real soft spot for Hawke’s Bay Syrah. It can be quite hard to get hold of, so well done Waitrose for stocking this delicious Saint Clair Hawke’s Bay Syrah (£12.29 at most larger Waitrose stores or online), with its bright black cherry, plum and peppery, savoury spice. Delicious!