Wine & Food

    Six wines to savour during May

    7 May 2020

    2019 M&S This Is Argentina Malbec, 14%vol, (£5; Marks & Spencer)

    I would never normally suggest buying a wine as cheap as this since duty, VAT, packaging, shipping &c account for all but a few pence of the price. But we live in strange times and this easy-going Malbec – part of M&S’s brand new This Is range, which includes all the major grape varieties and regions – is ideal for those who are being drunk dry by lockdown-crazy spouses and offspring or those who need to stock up on the basics. Produced by the San Carlos co-operative in Mendoza, it’s affable and approachable and, as the label states, bold and velvety.

    2015 CVNE Rioja Reserva, 13.5%vol, (£9.99 from 6th May until 2nd June, down from £13.49; Waitrose)

    Family-owned CVNE (the Companiá Vinícola del Norte de España) makes exemplary Rioja as we all know and, at the discounted price of under a tenner, this is an absolute peach of a wine and well worth stockpiling. A blend of Tempranillo and splashes of Garnacha (aka Grenache) and Mazuelo, from a first rate vintage, it spent a tannin-softening 18 months in oak and 12 in bottle before release and is full of ripe, sweet cherry notes, plums and a whisper of spice. It’s impossible not to like and although perfectly on song now, it will last for yonks.

    2019 Forest Hill Mount Barker Riesling, 13%vol, (£17.95; Yapp Bros)

    Those vinous ferrets at Yapp Bros are rightly famous for the quirky treasures they unearth in the far, un-trodden corners of France and it takes something very special for them to look any further afield, particularly as far afield as Australia. Indeed, there are only two Aussie producers on their list and this dry-farmed, old vine Riesling from Forest Hill is a beaut. Produced in Great Southern, in the most south-westerly corner of the country, it’s crisp, clean, citrusy, fresh, delectably dry and with a wonderful fresh apple/mineral intensity. Lovers of fine Riesling will lap it up.

    2020 Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana En Rama, 15%vol, (£18; Lea & Sandeman)

    Oh my goodness this is tasty! Indeed, I can’t for the moment think of a better aperitif or kick-starter to a lockdown-jaded appetite. Family-owned Bodegas Hidalgo was founded in 1792 and is famous for its La Gitana Manzanilla sherry, produced in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This, La Gitana En Rama, is even more toothsome, being sherry in its rawest, least mucked about, most natural state. Produced from 100 per cent Palomino free-run juice, it’s un-fined and only lightly filtered having spent eight years in the solera. It’s spicy, salty and citrusy with a fine savoury kick to the finish and I absolutely adore it.

    Fortnum’s Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne Brut NV, 12%vol, (£37.95; Fortnum & Mason)

    Champagne sales are plummeting during lockdown as wine lovers struggle to find anything to celebrate. I suggest we buck the trend, though, for I find that there is nothing better for keeping one’s spirits up during these dark days than the occasional bottle of perfectly-chilled fizz. Well, apart from a fine dry martini that is. This, from Fortnum’s (who are still delivering both nationally and internationally by the way), is a belter, made expressly for them by Laurent Hostomme from 100 per cent Chardonnay grown in the Grand Cru village of Chouilly. It’s fresh yet toasty, lively yet creamy and utterly delicious.

    2019 Figuière Méditerranée Rosé, 13%vol, (£78 per 5 litre box; Private Cellar)

    I’ve never recommended bag-in-box wine before but then nor have I ever enjoyed one as gloriously drinkable as this. A Provencal rosé of real oomph and style from vineyards between Saint Tropez and Toulon, it’s a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that’s crammed with character, being fresh, lively, juicy and blessed with a long, creamy finish. Ideal for a large family in lockdown, the five litres work out at £11.70 a bottle and will keep for six weeks once opened, if you can keep your hands off them that long. Stocks are limited, though, so call 01353 721 999 or email to order.