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Wine selections

 

roybunyan1.jpg (6832 bytes)August 2003

Enjoy laterlife Wine Selections with Roy Bunyan

Roy has been interested in wine for over 30 years and has travelled the world in search of good wine. Roy firmly believes that a glass of wine everyday is good for health and wellbeing. He takes great pleasure in finding good wines at a reasonable price for laterlife visitors.

As well as this months feature take a look at the Introduction and Index to laterlife Wine Selections.

This month’s feature White Wines of the Loire

Loire wines are great for the summer. They offer good value and some delightful drinking at reasonable prices. As a rough guide wine prices tend to increase from west to east, with the western  area offering the cheapest wines. Let’s take a short tour along the Loire from West to east, starting in the Loire Atlantique region

Muscadet and Gros Plant

Starting in the west we have two grape varieties Muscadet and Gros Plant – these are grown mainly to the south of the Loire. I think Gros Plant is best used as a mixer in maybe a spritzer or Kir. Muscadet is a better quality wine from the same area. It is better to buy Muscadet sur Lie. Sur lie means the wine has been left to mature with the sediment before being bottled. This gives the wine a lot more depth and it is worth paying the extra. A bottle of  Muscadet sur lie costs around £4.50. Muscadet is very dry wine and some will find it too dry to drink on its own. However it transforms when drunk with shellfish and is delicious with oysters.

Touraine

Moving further east we enter the Touraine (the area around the city of Tours). Tour region produces many reasonably priced sauvignon blanc wines. Sauvignon blanc is a dry crisp fruity wine, perfect for drinking by itself or with light meats and fish. Sauvignon blanc can be recognised by its citrus/gooseberry nose – sometime it can have the smell of cat’s pee! However the taste is a wonderful refreshingly, crisp mixture of lemon citrus fruits and green herbs.  Touraine Sauvignon Blanc is very reasonably priced at around £3.50 to £4.00

Sancerre

Sancerre starts to get a bit more pricey – and the extra money is not always worth it. Sancerre is also made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape and is famous for its “flinty” flavour. As with Touraine, Sancerre is a dry wine but it has many more complex flavours than Touraine. If you are not familiar with Sancerre then I would start with a few different wines from Touraine before lashing out the extra few pounds on Sancerre. I find the cheaper Sancerre not worth the money. A good substitute to a pricey Sancerre is Menetou Selon – It may be difficult to find in the UK but definitely worth a try if you should see it.  A search on Google revealed Menetou Selon for about £9

Some other Loire white wines

Pouilly Fumé – one of the more expensive wines. So called for its smokey flavour

Chenin BlancModerately priced – medium dry- uninspiring

Vouvray Sparkling – Chenin Blanc grapes put to much better use. Can be great

 

Recommendations

The wines this month are focused around Waitrose and Tesco Wines. If you can’t get to a store you can always order from their web sites. Alternatively most of the other bigger supermarkets and wine stores will stock equivalents. 

Try this. Buy a bottle of Touraine Sauvignon at about £4 and a bottle of Sancerre about £9.50  Open both bottles and try each side by side. Is the Sancerre worth the extra £5.50? Note you can keep the opened bottles in a fridge for 2 to 3 days, and repeat the experiment  later!

My recommendation this month:
Waitrose Touraine  £3.99 (£3.29 until 3rd August)

Other examples

Waitrose Muscadet sur lie                         £4.99

Tesco Muscadet sur lie                             £3.29 when buying 6 bottles  

Waitrose Sancerre                                   £9.59

Tesco Sancerre and Pouilly Fume both        £9.49 when buying 6 bottles

Tip of the month  - Kir

Kir is named after canon Felix Kir the mayor of Dijon. His favourite drink was to mix white wine with the blackcurrant liqueur Cassis. Kir is a very popular aperitif all over France and it is a great way of improving cheap white wine.

To make Kir add cold white wine to some Cassis (black currant liqueur). I like a small drop of Cassis -  about two teaspoons - to a glass of wine.- but vary it to your taste. The great thing about Kir is that it only needs cheap white wine – it would be sacrilege mixing with anything too decent. It transforms the cheapest of wines into something very pleasant. I often buy cheap Muscadet in France at about 75p a bottle specifically for Kir.

An alternative to Kir Cassis is Crème de Mure (blackberries) or if you really want to splash out make a Kir Royale with sparkling wine (again it is sacrilege to use Champagne – use a cheap sparkling wine) 

 


Please note prices are correct at the time of writing but will inevitably change over time.


 

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