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Summer wines make me feel fine

Here’s a longer version of my latest Lady column and a little Isley Brothers just in case you’re not feeling summery enough with all this heat:

Writing about winter wines is easy in Britain because you know it’s going to be cold so you need lots of alcohol and richness to keep warm. Summer wines are harder because of our unpredictable climate.  That is why it’s vital to include some autumnal offerings for when the weather refuses to play cricket. And then there’s the barbeque factor. You need robust reds to stand up to all that grilled meat and burnt sausages. That is why many summer wines are actually winter wines in disguise. Anyway I don’t suppose it really matters as long as they’re good. My top tip would be to serve all the reds a little colder than you normally would do in the winter. On a hot day even the most muscular of reds will benefit from thirty minutes in the fridge whereas very light reds are nice properly chilled. And finally if the sun really shines, don’t be afraid to put a little ice in your glass, even if the contents are red.

Percheron Old vines Cinsault 2013 (Wine Society)

A very pale red, this has to be the most adaptable wine of the year. Serve it cool and it’s great with lighter meats, serve it cold and it’s a particularly good rose. One word of warning, it’s 15% so don’t give too many glasses to Granny.

Capcanes  rosé 2013 (Theatre of Wine £8.90)

A manly Catalan rosé! This is another very adaptable wine, it’s rich and spicy enough to stand up to flavoursome meats but also extremely refreshing.

Picpoul-de-Pinet Cuvée Ludovic Gaujal 2013 (Yapp Bros £10.25)

Picpoul might be the ultimate summer wine. This is a superior example with a super fresh nose, like smelling the sea. It’s richer than your average Picpoul with lovely tangy, herbal quality.

Crozes-Hermitage ‘Les Meysonniers ‘ M. Chapoutier 2011 (Tanners £16.99)

This is the posh BBQ wine. It tastes meaty and peppery with supple tannins that cry out for a good bit of rump steak. Les Meysonniers has to be one of the consistently great bargains in wine.

Harvey Nichols Port 10 year old Tawny (£27.50)

I’m on a one man mission to get people drinking port year round. In Oporto they drink tawnies like this chilled, it really accentuates all that lovely ripe fruit. The is just the thing with hard cheese or on its own with a slice of seed cake for a mid-morning pick-me-up.

Henners Vintage 2010 (Wine Pantry £27)

It has a lively lemony nose with hint of vanilla. In the mouth there are green apples, beautiful tiny bubbles and a whisper of custard on the finish. If I was getting married again and I had the money, then I’d go for this wine.

Pic St. Loup Morrisons Signature 2011 (£8.99)

This is the everyday BBQ wine to go with supermarket sausages and burgers. It’s good and drinkable and with its notes of rosemary and leather tastes distinctly Languedocian as well.

Coteaux du Languedoc ‘Les Muriers’ Mas Bruguiere 2012 (Yapp Bros £13.95)

One of the best value whites I’ve tried this year. It would be double the amount if it came from the Northern Rhone. It’s intense, nutty and tangy with a gorgeously silky texture. It will probably age too but I can’t wait that long.

Château Moncontour Vouvray Demi-Sec 2013 (M&S £9.99)

Have a sniff of this and you’ll think of apple pie with cinnamon. Your friends won’t notice because it’s so well-balanced but this wine actually sweet or at least slightly sweet. There’s so much acidity, however, that tt finishes dry and bracingly fresh. I think it’ll be good with goats cheese and grapes. It’s also low in alcohol, 11%, so granny can have a few glasses.

Aldi Prosecco NV (£7.29)

A friend of mine who is getting married asked me to recommend a Prosecco. He was a bit put out I when I suggested this one. ‘I’m not that cheap!’ he said. But this is genuinely good: very clean, fruity and fun with none of those off flavours you sometimes get in cheap Prosecco.

Marks & Spencer Beaujolais 2013 (Marks & Spencer £7.99)

This is the red to put ice in. It smells of oranges and cherries and tastes youthful and crunchy with just a hint of stalkiness; really good simple Beaujolais.

The Wine Society Fino NV (£6.25)

Not only a bargain but also one of the best finos on the market. It’s very dry and lemony with a certain salty tang which lingers deliciously in the mouth. It’s just a shame about that dreary label. I always have a bottle of this in the fridge.

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Whole Lotta Rosé

We live in a time of rosé. The number of rosés in the shops is multiplying at an alarming rate. There are Greek rosés, English rosés, Malbec rosés, Sangiovese rosés, I’ve even spotted a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc rosé made by adding a little Syrah to a white wine. Most of these are ghastly so it’s comforting to know twas ever thus. Writing just after the war in the New Yorker*, A.J. Liebling observes: “In the late thirties, the rosés began to proliferate in wine regions where they had never been known before, as growers discovered how marketable they were, and to this day they continue to pop up like measles on the wine map.”

Then as now the reason these wines were not any good was not down to anything intrinsically wrong with the style and everything to do with how cynically most were produced: “The wines converted to rosé in the great wine provinces are therefore, I suspect, the worst ones – a suspicion confirmed by almost every experience I have had of them.” Note that Liebling suspects that the rosés are not so much made directly from grapes but concocted from inferior wines. Reminds me of that Sauvignon Blanc rosé.

For Liebling there was only one that would do, Tavel, a beefy Southern rosé made from Cinsault and Grenache. When he lived in Paris in the 1920s, it was his stalwart companion: “the taste is warm but dry, like an enthusiasm held under restraint, and there is a tantalizing suspicion of bitterness when the wine hits the top of the palate.” Part of what makes Tavel so good is that it’s almost a red wine, it’s a deep pink with some tannic bite.

Here are a few nice roses that I recommended in my Lady column this week. I hope Liebling would approve:

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Negrette Rose 2013 (£7.99)

Very simple wine packed with lots of strawberry fruit.

Sevilen Kalecik Karası R Rose (M&S £9.49)

This is from Turkey and comes in a silly bottle. It has a very herby nose and is quite full-bodied with some nice crunchy refreshing fruit.

Pizarros de Otero Bierzo Rose (Majestic £9.99)

So dark it’s almost a red wine, it smells like it’s going to be rich but it’s actually extremely dry and piquant with a whisper of tannin.

Domaine Houchart Saint-Victoire Rose (Wine Society £8.50)

My rose of the year so far. It has a lovely smell – honey, herbs strawberries – and it’s tangy with plenty of fruit but not overblown.

*Article is Just Enough Money taken from Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris.