Languedoc - Sud France
From the Bottle
Price £8.99 (single bottle) £5.99 mix six - Majestic
To the casual observer this is a very unassuming bottle. Without looking at the back label you wouldn't know that this was a Gerard Bertrand wine, and even if you did read that, what exactly would that mean to you? Nothing, more than likely and why should it?
Well readers I am here to tell you that GB is a name you should look for. An abridged version of events, this former rugby star was introduced to wine by his late father. His passion grew as did the size of his estates (he is currently up to 9) and he is a well known ambassador of the Mediterranean lifestyle and Art the Vivre. He is obviously doing something right because in 2012 Gérard Bertrand was named Red Winemaker of the Year by IWC and European Winery of the year by Wine Enthusiast. No small feat.
What I personally like about GB is that he comes across as genuine and unpretentious with a range of wines to suit every budget. This is one of his entry level but don't let that fool you into thinking it's cheap.
Deep purple in colour the nose gives blackcurrant, black cherry jam, sweet spice, chocolate and raspberry ripple ice cream notes with a little eucalyptus, forest floor, earthy backdrop.
On the palate this wine is not a fruit forward as the nose would suggest. Black fruit salad with a lick of leather, fresh acidity and a slight white pepper heat. A sprig of mint on the finish with clay- earth and a tad salty. Medium bodied with crunchy tannins. Might be best to let breath before drinking.
Would be good with cheese and meat.
Rating - A cheaper end of price spectrum would be worth scraping your pennies together.
Saint Chinian Roquebrun - Sud France
From the Bottle
Price £11.99 (single bottle) or £8.99 mix six - Majestic
Southern French wine may not be seen to be as glamourous as Bordeaux or Burgundy but I think they are much more exciting! Wine laws are very strict when it comes to what grapes are allowed, percentage restrictions and ageing etc but in South France the winemakers can get away with being a little bit more experimental and therefore I think ultimately the wines are more expressive and unique.
Deep purple legs with a complex nose of cassis, damson, black forest fruits and a savoury earth and (please stay with me on this one) cold bean salad notes.
This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre and a perfect example of what the French call 'Terrior' (I'll cover that in another post, but it basically means how a particular region's soil, climate etc affect the taste of the wine) which comes through in the unpretentious and rustic qualities of this wine.
The fuller side of medium bodied with tannins that have softened with age. Black pepper spice and slight smokiness on the palate with black fruits coming through. Short finish but pleasant.
Would pair fantastically with sausage and bean casserole.
Definitely worth scraping your pennies together
Clare Valley, South Australia
From the bottle
'...Family owned for 4 decades and 3 generations...This Shiraz from our founding range of wines displays seductive ripe berries and plum flavours perfectly balanced with enticing mocha and spice'
Price £11.99 (or £8.99 when two bottles brought in same offer category)
Here's a little fact for any of you that are planning a trip down under and for those of your who aren't, i'm still going to tell you anyway. Due to trademark restrictions in the northern hemisphere what we know was Wakefield Wines is actually called Taylors, which is the family surname, and said family were the first in Australia to use only screw caps.
The more eagle eyed of you would have noticed that I actually gave you two facts just then. I'm just that kind of caring and sharing person. However, even the less observant of you could see the plethora of medals adorning this bottle. Go on i'll give you a second to scroll back up and have a quick count.
There are nine of them. Nine shiny, circular displays of award winning glory. Certainly lulls me into thinking to must be a bloody good bottle of plonk, but is it? Mmm, it's ok.
Having a look at the wine in the glass it has purple hue (classic sign of a young wine) and has aromas of blackcurrant, dark fruits, violets and slight boiled jam.
Coming to the taste the blackcurrant and fruit holds well with some noticeable tannins and a splash of good old shiraz spice. A tad hot on the back of throat indicating a high alcohol content that hasn't been integrated to the best of its ability.
Rating - Scrape pennies together but only on lower price.
Malborough, New Zealand
From the bottle
'... zesty and vibrant with tropical fruit, kaffir lime, lemongrass and herb aromas. The palate... generous fruit, juicy acidity and fresh dry finish'
Price £6.66 -£9.99 Available from Ocado, Tesco, Sainsburys Majestic* (*cheaper when two bottles brought in same offer category)
A recent survey by Laithwaite's Wine declared that Sauvignon Blanc is Britain's favourite wine grape. (Although I might take this data with a pinch of salt as I'm not sure their customers represent a truly typical cross section of society.) This grape variety originated from the Bordeaux region in France with the name coming from sauvage "wild" and blanc "white" however, these days New Zealand is probably more synonymous with it.
This particular expression smells of grass, lime, hay and mango. The taste is zesty, grassy, juicy and dry with mango hints. There is noticeable acidity and a slight spritz which arises from this, which might be a tad too much for some, although would be good to cut through something slightly creamy like chicken thai green curry.
Worth scraping pennies together for on the cheaper end of price scale.
Gassin, Côtes de Provence, France
From the bottle
Price £14.99 Available from Majestic (£9.99 when two bottles brought in same offer)
Pale salmon pink in a sexy bottle that has curves to rival a pin up model. With nothing to go on regarding the label, I think Chateau Minuty were looking to produce a wine that spoke for itself, and it does.
A gorgeous nose of strawberries and toffee bonbons, although don't let that put you off by thinking this a sweet wine. Made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Tiboren the palate is dry with a refreshing citrus twang. A good rosé to get white wine drinkers to try.
Buy it now
Valle de Aconcagua, Chile
From the bottle
'Cool fermented and lightly oaked. Aromas of fresh strawberries and cherries complemented by a touch of violets and damp earth. Light bodied and crisp with soft tannins and a pleasing well rounded finish. Serve with grilled salmon or tuna or cold avocado soup'
Price Available from Asda (£10.45) or Majestic £11.99 (£7.99 when two bottles brought in same offer)
Well I don't know about you, but I do find it rather helpful when there is a serving suggestion on a label. Not only does it help me understand the wine a little more, if it's a particular goodun, it might even shake up what I throw into my food basket (depending on whether it sounds like too much effort after a 10 hour day at work)
'Grilled salmon' I read. Mmmm yeah yummy and healthy, not much work involved, great idea I think. 'Tuna' Ohh nice, makes a change to beef steak and I haven't had it in a while.
'Cold avocado soup' Erm, come again?
Now I'm no food prude. I love a good gazpacho, on a hot summers day and a ripe avocado that spreads like butter is blissful on toast will marmite (don't knock it till you've tried it). But cold avocado soup? Come on mate, let's not be silly. You are basically suggesting I eat a meal just consisting of Guacamole. I am a grown woman. I need more sustenance than that.
Food pairings aside, when opened up this wine has aromas of cherry jam with a slight smokiness and indeed a hint of damp earth. The palate matches the aroma profile with slight acidity following through. Light bodied with just noticeable tannins. A perfectly good example of warm climate Pinot, but it just didn't knock my socks off. Maybe I should have drunk it with the avocado soup after all...
Rating - Wouldn't turn down a free glass
From South Eastern Australia
From the bottle:
'....our careful selection of grapes grown across the region has delivered wine with rich fruit flavours of plum and blackcurrant. Shiraz is a great food wine and this smooth, full bodied red has a warm spicy finish that is a great match for lamb and beef or tomato -based pasta dishes'
Price £7.99 (Available from Tesco, Sainsburys, Majestic Wine)
On the nose you get the spicy black pepper followed by the lovely fruity undertone of blackcurrants. Coming to the taste the spice is there as you would expect with a Shiraz with the fruit holding well. The acidity comes through slightly afterwards to balance. A medium bodied wine, with nicely rounded tannins.
Overall Rating - 7 Recommended