For every season, there is a perfectly matched wine... here our resident expert Kevin Conac talks us through some of this season's offerings...
You will, whether you realise it or not, feel more attracted to some wines dependent on where you are, or what you are doing. If you are on holiday in the South of France during the summer you will jump on any Provence Rosé; if it’s wintertime you will automatically reach for heavier wines to match those heavier heart-warming meals.
Furthermore, the type of celebration is vital. If you are celebrating the end of a long working week with colleagues, a fruity-but-dry glass (or bottle!) of Prosecco will be just what you need. But, if you’re toasting on your wedding day, you will want something a bit more sophisticated, something to remember throughout your life… And with winter comes some great festive celebrations, at this time of year Champagne joins the party! Among over 70 Champagne houses, our Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut NV is probably one of the most prestigious.
Created in 1729, only a decade after the death of Louis XIV the Sun King, Ruinart has thrived by producing only high quality Champagne including their flagship: The Blanc de Blanc (Blanc de Blanc meaning that it contains only Chardonnay). In your mouth the blend of dry and refreshing citrus, peach, white flowers and nectarine will be the highlight of your day. Not all the great wines and/or grapes in the world are famous. Some can be quite discrete but if you come across one of them do not miss the opportunity. As a perfect example you can try a Hungarian Furmint grape variety from the Tokaji region. Mainly famous for its very sweet, (and fantastic,) style, Tokaji wines can also be produced in a dry version and our Royal Tokaji dry Furmint 2010 is just stunning: it is dry, flowery, toasty with a freshness brought up by a hint of anise.
Meanwhile, in Italy some gods are still praised, and they are known under the names of Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti or Brunello. Brunello might not be as iconic as its neighbour Chianti but it is nevertheless one of the jewels of Tuscany. Like all the good things in life: Brunello takes time, ideally 5 to 10 years to age. At first it will offer some flavours of sour cherry, dried oregano, hints of balsamic and red pepper. When aged, the style will show flavours such as fig, sweet tobacco, espresso, and leather. A delight that you can enjoy by itself but could be even greater with richly flavoured meat, tomato based dishes or spicy food such as Moroccan Spiced Lamb. Our 2010 Brunello di Montalcino from Castello Banfi are ready to drink now but can still age and improve with the decade.
Many centuries ago, when some wines were so good that merchants had to ship them across Europe it wasn’t rare that, by the time they reach their destination, the wine was already off (often caused by heat or contact with oxygen). Luckily, the human mind doesn’t lack ingenuity when it comes to producing alcohol. For example, during the XIVth century it was discovered that by adding pure spirits to a wine it becomes stronger, more resilient to oxygen and therefore easier (and more profitable) to transport. This is how fortified wines, such as Port, Sherry or Madeira, were created. Fortified wines can be dry, very sweet or somewhere in between. The sweetest (with an average of 300 to 500 grams of sugar per litre), richest, oiliest of all wines is the luscious Pedro Ximenez Sherry (casually called PX by friends). The grape variety used here is Pedro Ximenez and because the berries are sun-dried before being crushed the resulting wine tastes a bit like a delicious liquid Christmas pudding: Aromas of raisins, figs and plums with memories of liquorice, toasted elements and aftertastes of coffee, caramel and a hint of dark chocolate.
Not sure what to choose? Here are Kevin's recommendations:
Our Pedro Ximenez comes from the Triana Bodega and is a perfect example of how fantastic a PX can be. Best enjoyed chilled, up to 14 °C, and can be paired with some blue cheeses, crème brulée, dark chocolate cakes, Christmas pudding or a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. Only a lifetime devoted, Master of Wine, can be lucky enough to be able to try the hundreds and thousands of different styles of wine across the world, but with a bit of interest and curiosity the wine world is full of scrumptious surprises.
By Kevin Conac
Assistant Restaurant Manager