What's Hot in the World of Wine: English wines, Chenins & F. Scott Fitzgerald





Once a fortnight, CellarVie Wines kicks back with the weekend’s newspapers in an effort to determine what’s hot in the world of wine, offering up views and possible alternatives to the nation’s big-hitting publications and their wine suggestions. In the fifth instalment of ‘What’s Hot’, a number of venerated wine journalists purport their thoughts and interests within the industry and amongst other things, the virtues of English wines are championed alongside the Chenin Blanc grape, Portuguese wines, and a delightful collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tit-Bits ‘On Booze’.
 
 
English Wines
 
Katie Spicer of The Sunday Times quite rightly questions why “only one English wine is being served at the Olympics”, suggesting the powers that be have not only displayed a distinct lack of patriotism but more pertinently are “pandering to silly ideas of what is posh, rather than what is not only good, but also British”. Championing the virtues of perhaps our unsung winemaking prowess, Spicer intimates places like the Wine Pantry in Borough Market, where only English wine is sold, are too few and far between given the talent on offer.
 
CellarVie Wines says: With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee fast approaching there is surely no better time to revel in all things English and this most certainly includes British wine. On the week of the 28 May and ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60-year celebration, the team here at CellarVie Wines will be doing just that with our Jubilee mixed case, containing only English wines [register here to ensure you don’t miss out].
 
Why not try:
 
Biddenden Sparkling White Wine 2006 (£19.99)
Or check out our newly listed English wines on CellarVie Wines.
 

Portuguese wines
 
Victoria Moore writes in the Daily Telegraph of the sad and quite unfair decline of Portuguese wine on supermarket shelves claiming its slide defies the country’s superb wines. Citing Majestic’s decision to effectively pull the plug on “new listings” from Portugal over a marketing budget issue, Moore suggests wines from the Iberian Peninsula haven’t perhaps “captured the hearts and minds of ordinary wine drinkers” yet remain popular in independent shops “where customers perhaps have more recherché tastes and a greater interest in ferreting out wines made from grapes they’ve never heard of in places they can’t pronounce.”
 
CellarVie Wines says: Perhaps we are not best equipped to comment seeing as the CellarVie Wines cellar is pretty bare of Portuguese wines outside of the country’s celebrated fortified wines, but perhaps this merely underlines Moore’s excellent point. There does appear to be a reluctance to sell or at least promote Portuguese wines yet there are undoubtedly some lovely wines to sample. We would urge you to get involved, variety is after all, the spice of life. 
 
 
Ribero del Duero and Margaret River
 
As ever the eagle-eyed David Williams from the Guardian/Observer recommends a few superbly priced bottles and one slightly more punchy tipple in his ‘Wines of the Week’. Among the aforementioned wines, Williams name checks a bottle from the Ribero del Duero region in Spain suggesting "there's something a bit flash, brash and aspirational" about the area.
 
He also highlights a Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon from Margaret River in Australia intimating it’s the country’s answer to Bordeaux.
 
CellarVie Wines says: The landlocked region of Ribero del Duero in northern Spain has become a serious hub for quality Spanish red wine, with the Tempranillo grape by far the most important, and while Williams champions a modestly priced bottle, we would strongly urge you to pay that little bit extra. It is indeed an aspirational wine in a region saturated with iconic wineries and therefore that little bit extra buys into the ethos in which the wine was made.
 
Williams’ recommendation from Australia is certainly an incredibly worthy one and in recent years from an award winning area that is now a shining beacon for quality wine production Down Under. The Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon grape blend makes a light, fresh, crispy wine that is incredibly drinkable with or without food.
 
Why not try:
 
Torres Celeste Crianza 2007, Ribera del Duero (£13.49)
 
Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2008, Margaret River (£14.99)
 

Chenin Blanc
 
Olly Smith of the Daily Mail praises the ‘chameleon’ qualities of the versatile Chenin Blanc grape suggesting France and South Africa are the places to go to sample this zingy, vibrant varietal. Smith also intimates “Chenin’s place at the table alongside world-class cuisine is well earned and long overdue”, suggesting this is a lovely wine to accompany food.
 
CellarVie Wines says: As Smith says, "If you prefer a more exotic flavour" then look no further than Chenin Blanc from South Africa and we suggest you start with the a bottle of Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2010 from the Stellenbosch region. This Decanter commended bottle of wine is an elegant, full-bodied number that is hugely versatile when it comes to enjoying it with food.
 
Likewise it would be rude not to sample a Chenin Blanc from its native Loire, so the medium-dry Vouvray le Cormier has a delightful refreshing quality that has proved particularly popular with the fairer sex at recent wine tastings.
 
Why not try:
 
Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2010, Stellenbosch (£10.99)
 
Vouvray le Cormier 2009 (£9.49)
 

Jubilee tipples
 
Like the aforementioned Katie Spicer, the Sunday Telegraph’s Susy Atkins questions why the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee picnic at Buckingham Palace will be endured with bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne and Cobra beer – two distinctly non-British tipples. Instead she recommends more suitable equivalents including "a British beer, some fine fizz and a rich, juicy cider”. 
 
CellarVie Wines says: As discussed, we whole heartedly agree with Spicer and Atkins and strongly believe that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee should be a celebration fuelled by some of Britain’s finest tipples. In terms of an English sparkling wine we would thoroughly recommend one from the Gusbourne Estate. This impressive new vineyard is beginning to attract some worthy plaudits and although its not cheap, its not very often our Monarch celebrates 60-years at the helm.
 
Why not try:
 
Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2008, Gusbourne Estate (£26.99)

 
And finally…
 
On Booze by F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
It might be a little off topic, but the CellarVie Wines team were delighted when a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book ‘On Booze' landed on their desk last week. Not to be published by the lovely people at Picador until later in the month, On Booze gathers some of Fitzgerald’s most famous lines about the virtues and perils of drinking. The book, at times light-hearted but occasionally sombre, is a delightful tome to “The Jazz Age” that also reveals the jovial side of the widely championed American great.
 
CellarVie Wines says: A typically brilliant insight into the prohibition era and its declining values, and whilst Fitzgerald’s problems with alcoholism have been well-documented and ultimately contributed to his early death aged 44, On Booze offers a fleeting glimpse into the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s era as well the whimsical brilliance of the man himself.
 
 
 
 
Read other instalments of 'What's Hot' by following the links below: - 
 
21 March - Gewürztraminer, Australian Rieslings & Chardonnays & Spanish Whites
3 April - Pol Roger, Chardonnay, Cava & Rum
17 April - Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris & other wines for spring
1 May - Grüner Veltliner, Malbec, Moscato and Cortese
 
 

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