Wine articles Wine of the week

Wine of the Week: Mezzomondo Negromaro Salento 2009

First an apology to regular readers: I’ve been on the gravy train. I have been wined, dined, flattered and pampered, and as such have been writing about bottles that are outside the remit of the impecunious amateur. From now on I am going to write about wines I can afford*; there aren’t many, I am so poor at the moment that I tried to borrow money off my little brother (if you have met my little brother you would realise quite what desperate straits I’m in.)

Which brings me onto my wine of the week, I was meeting some old friends at Adams Café in Shepherds Bush – this does good and, more importantly, cheap Tunisian food and, more importantly still, lets you bring your own wine. One of my friends writes a food blog so I was worried that she would spend the whole time photographing the food rather than listening to my woes. Thankfully she had not brought her camera with her and sat spellbound as I regaled her with complaints about publishers who had rejected my book.

The wine I brought was a Negromaro from Salento in the far South of Italy. Negromaro is the name of the grape variety and means black and bitter. It costs £5.50. This is a crazily small amount for such a good wine. It’s full-bodied but not in any way soupy or porty – some Southern Italians can be clumsy. There is some taste of vanilla that suggest the wine has been aged in oak, some nice fruit and a zingy vein of acidity that went well with the rustic North African food. This is a grown-up wine; so much more interesting than anything from the New World at this price. I am sure I’ll say it again but Southern Europe really is the best hunting ground for the impecunious amateur.

Waitrose are offering 25% of 6 or more bottles until 28th June.

*PR people – don’t worry I am very weak-willed. If you give me something deliciously expensive to drink and say that you like my blog, I am sure that I’ll write something.

Interviews Wine articles

M. Guibert’s philosophy

When a wine is labelled as organic or biodynamic, I tend to greet it with suspicion. This is partly my cynical belief that many producers describe their wines as such mainly for marketing purposes and partly a suspicion of movements in general that I alluded to in a previous post. Patrick Matthews in his book the Wild Bunch puts it well. He notes ‘echoes of cults, evangelism, even show trials’ in the language used by organics more dogmatic adherents.

As much as I don’t like organics as a movement or a marketing tool, I do like the philosophy behind it purely because it seems to make better wines. Or I’ll put that differently because there are some awful organic wines: the producers I like tend to either be organic or use such a minimal amount of fertilizer, fungicide etc that they might as well be. That is why Samuel Guibert from Mas de Daumas Gassac is a man after my own heart. When I asked him about organics he said that he wasn’t interested in politics, yes they farm organically but they don’t put it on the label. There’s no worthiness and no dogma. Many of the wines he enjoys are not from organic, biodynamic or ‘natural’ producers. He just wants to keep the family estate as nice as possible and that means not polluting the locale. He described it with mischevious gleam in his eye as ‘selfish environmentalism.’

And what a spectacular environment it is. Most vineyards are actually very dull. Vines themselves are not interesting to look at but at Mas de Daumas Gassac the vines are interspersed with garrique – the local name for the bush. They integrate into the landscape.  You can see the effect in this video of M. Guibert:

The red, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of many other varieties, is justifiably famous. I liked it a lot but would like to try it after at least ten years in bottle. You really need to treat it like a good Bordeaux. The white, a blend of Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Petite Manseng, Chardonnay, is more immediately accessible but will also age. The 2003 was delightfully nutty when I tried it recently.

The one I am going to recommend is a little bit different. I had it on New Year’s Eve and then again in France. It’s a fizzy rosé made from the Cabernet vines too young to go in the red and it is delightfully frivolous. So much nicer than those dreary rosé champagnes and only £15 a bottle. Sound too expensive? A decent rosé champagne would cost you at least twice as much and be half as much fun. It’s also six times more delicious than the best prosecco and eighteen times more stylish than cava. It will also make you irresitible to the opposite sex.

Mas de Daumas Gassac Frizant Rose 2008, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault Vin Mousseux

Wine articles Wine of the week

Wines of the Week: two Corsicans

2011 looked like being Corsica’s year for the first time since 1769. The French entry to the Eurovision song contest was heavily tipped to win and it was to be sung in Corsican. This was a significant moment. Previously the centralising French state did their best to stamp out regional tongues. Now the beautiful Corsican language would have its moment in the sun representing France in the greatest song contest on earth. Sadly they came last or very near the bottom. I don’t know which as we got bored and went to bed before the end. Happily it’s not all doom and gloom for Corsican pride a white and a red from the island are joint wines of the week on Henry’s World of Booze.

Clos Paggiale Blanc, Skalli, Vin de Corse 2009 – like the language, Corsican wines are more Italian than French. This one is made from Vermentino and my God it’s distinctive. It’s  perfumed, full-bodied and sort-of lemony too – those fragrant lemons that you get in Sicily. My father didn’t like it and I was in two minds until  minutes after trying the taste lingered like a haunting refrain. I had to try it again and this time was bowled over.

Clos Paggiale, Skalli, Vin de Corse 2007 – This is a blend of Niellucio (or Sangiovese as it’s known in Tuscany) and Syrah. It smells spicy and tastes herby and sweet but with a completely dry finish. It reminds me a little of a very good wine from the Rhone perhaps a Chateauneuf-du-pape but it is completely its own thing.

Both these wines are about £15 depending on where you buy them. So not cheap then but less than wines of equivalent quality from the Rhone or Burgundy and much cheaper than a trip to Corsica. Viva la Corse! or whatever it is in Corsican.