Sunday, October 9, 2011

The dilemma of deadlines and the risk with rose

After the blissful heatwave of last weekend, which I spent enjoying the incredible sun and scenery of the Malvern Hills, the weather has cooled again and, fortuitously, my wines of the week in the Independent on Sunday, which are here, have a definite autumnal air about them again. When you are writing a couple of weeks in advance, the weather in spring and autumn can often be a little trap waiting for you that annoys readers - the casual reference to the warm weather and a recommended rose to be drunk ice cold might be incongruous when read in the middle of a cold snap, when a warming red is what is most needed. Naturally, readers do not like this, but often do not understand that production deadlines for newspaper supplements are usually at least a week or more in advance of actual publication, which means that I wrote today's column almost a fortnight ago. I'm just glad that my autumn wines special of two Sundays ago did not co-incide with last weekend - when it really was rose time. That would have felt wrong. But although I enjoyed a really good, iced Bergerac rose last weekend, with some nice fish, after a long, hot walk on the hills, I'd would have been foolish to recommend it in the column I wrote last Monday, because of the possibility of, say, a decent October snowstorm a week today. It would be tempting fate. As it happens, the Foncaussade Les Parcelles Bergerac rose is on special 25 per cent discount offer at Waitrose until Tuesday, if you want to stock up for next Spring - or hope for another autumnal warm spell. This is the wine here and Waitrose are right in saying it would be good with paella or similar dishes. And at around £5.50 a bottle, its a terrific bargain, cheaper if you buy six.
So far as today's wines are concerned, the Miranda de Secastilla 2008, it has to be acknowledged, does not have the most attractive label. But what a wine for the price - textured, aromatic, chewy, chocolate-y (yes) but still fresh on the palate, which makes it extremely gluggable. Great for autumnal, gamey foods of all kinds. I'm forced into cooking on my gas rings at the moment only because I'm waiting for the oven fan to be repaired. And the weather over the last couple of days has been distinctly chilly. So its a stove top venison and mushroom casserole tonight, with a nice, big red. Or that was the plan - but having been out and about this morning, its a bit warmer than I thought, so I'm having a bit of a dilemma over what to eat tonight, constrained by my oven's limitations. And I'll certainly be keeping some rose in the fridge just in case.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The pleasures of Oporto and port

Just returned from a trip to Oporto and the truly wonderful Duoro Valley to visit both port lodges and some beautiful vineyards owned by Taylors, one of the great names in port. And of course, there was lots of sampling and drinking terrific ports - as well as some very nice Portugese table wines - and some truly fine food and lovely hospitality. Our party stayed for two nights at the awesome Yeatman Hotel, a five-star 'wine hotel' built by Taylors overlooking the centre of Oporto, a World Heritage Site. Will try and post more on Portugal later - and will be writing about the trip for the Independent food and drink pages but for the moment, here is a pic of the glorious Quinta de Vargellas estate, one of the finest port producing vineyards. It was taken by Sue Glasgow, who organised a fabulous few days.
Today also sees the publication of my Wines for Autumn special in the Independent on Sunday, which is here .
I've taken the liberty of using the Independent on Sunday's image which accompanies my piece because it looks so beguiling. So often, the sheer sensual beauty of a wine bottle - the shape, the art of the labelling, which can vary from the lovely to the banal, and the colour of the wine are treats in themselves, even before you drink what's inside. Which, in each and every case here, is rather lovely.