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Wine Selections


roybunyan1.jpg (6832 bytes)September 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 - The Other Spain


Navarra borders the Rioja region in the north of Spain. In fact some Rioja denomination wines are actually grown in the geographical region of Navarra. So Navarra shares both the climate and much of the soil conditions of Rioja. Producing predominantly red wines, the grape varieties are also those used in Rioja - Tempranillo and Grenacha being the most dominant and again, as with Rioja, the wine is frequently aged in American oak barrels.  It's not surprising then that Navarra wines taste quite similar to Rioja.  Navarra can't compare with Rioja's finest Reservas and Gran Reservas, but at the lower end of the price range it can often be superior. 5 spent on a Navara is more likely to deliver a better wine than a 5 Rioja. Try Gran Feudo Reserva 1998 Waitrose 6.15


Valdepenas is in the centre of Spain near La Mancha. It shares many of the same grape varieties of Rioja and Navarra. As with Navarra, Valdepenas doesn't command the price premium of the Rioja brand and there are some very good wines at reasonable prices. Waitrose have Torneo Reserva made with Tempranillo and aged for 2 years in oak. This has many of th qualities you might expect from a Rioja and is good value at 4.59.

Spanish white wines

We have focused on red wines so far but Spain has some great white wines too. Pazo de Seoane is a delicious white wine that is great drunk as an aperitif. Made from the Albarino grape in Galacia in the North West.  Pazo is highly regarded in Spain and is dry and full of fruit. Waitrose have it on special offer of the moment, 6.99 reduced from 8.99.

Of course we must not forget Cava - sparkling wine produced in the methode champenoise. I went to a blind tasting of champagnes a few years ago. There was a range of champagnes and sparkling wines ranging from carbonated white wines to vintage Krug at 80 a bottle. Most of us - when tasting blind rated the Spanish cavas as good if not better than many of the French champagnes at 2 or 3 times the price. Try Freixnet Brut, a nutty easy drinking cava on offer at Tesco at   5.57.

Other Spanish Recommendations

Majestic and Tesco have Senorio los Llanos Reserva  at around 5, another Rioja style red at a reasonable price. Waitrose have Monasterio de Santa Ana at 5.15.

Sloe Gin

Nothing to do with Spain, but this is the time of year for you to make sloe gin. If you haven't tried it, sloe gin is a delicious deep red liqueur almost like a port or madeira and it is so easy to make. This method makes two bottles of sloe gin.  Pick about 450g(1lb) of sloes (sloes are the berries of the blackthorn) Wash the sloes and leave them in a strainer to dry. When dry prick the sloes to break their skin. Take  an empty 75cl or litre gin or spirit bottle and a full bottle of gin of the same size. Add half of the sloes to the empty bottle and then add 125g (4oz) of sugar. Top up with gin leaving a bit of space at the neck, as the contents will need to be shaken. Repeat for the other bottle. Shake the contents each day for a week. After a week of daily shaking put the bottles into a cupboard and shake occasionally. After 3 months strain off the berries and it is ready for drinking. Some say that you should keep it for a year, but I think it is very palatable after 3 months. 

There is no point in using the best gin. Use the cheapest you can find. Most supermarkets have an own label gin for under 7 for 75cl.   


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


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