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    Wine & Food

    Wines of the month: Mencia is the trend-setting grape on everyone’s lips

    14 February 2020

    2018 Torres Viña Sol Rosado, 12.5%vol, (£7.49; Waitrose)

    I do love the wines of Torres, Spain’s leading family-owned producer, and always feel reassured when I stumble across one. The wines just never let you down. This, the entry level rosé from Cataluña, is a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena, Tempranillo and Syrah and darn good it is too: full of wild strawberries, spice and citrus with an exhilaratingly fresh finish.

    2018 Nero Oro, Nero d’Avola Appassimento, 14%vol, (£8.99 if you mix 6; Majestic)

    Nero d’Avola is known as Sicily’s black gold – hence ‘Nero Oro’ – in this instance from vineyards in Belice and Agrigento on the island’s western coast, with some of the grapes allowed to dry on the vine and some on racks in the sun, leading to a wine full of rich, spicy cherry flavours and a touch of sweetness on the finish. If you like Amarone but don’t like Amarone’s price, you’ll love it, as did 25,000 Majestic customers who recently voted it their favourite in-store red.

    2018 Co-op Irresistible Chablis, 12.5%vol, (£12.50; Co-op)

    Family-owned Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard is a celebrated name in Chablis and exports its wines to some 50 countries. J-MB has produced the Co-op’s own-label, entry level Chablis for a dozen or so years and it’s an award-winning cracker. Crisp, clean and classic, it sees no oak at all and, despite just the faintest hint of honey, it’s bone dry on the finish, deeply refreshing and a more than reasonable price.

    2015 Fortnum’s Rheinhessen Dry Riesling, Dr Koehler, 12%vol, (£13.50 or £12.65 if you buy 12; Fortnum & Mason)

    A decent, well-chilled Riesling is one of the finest ways to start a night on the town, and a couple of glasses of this in Fortnum’s wine bar the other day set me up very nicely for the jollities ahead. With honey, apple and petrol on the nose and with fresh stone fruit in abundance on the palate followed by a long dry finish, it was just what I was after.

    2016 Antoine Graillot & Raúl Pérez ‘Encinas’ Bierzo, 13%vol, (£22.00; Yapp Bros)

    Brand new to Yapps’ list, a fascinating first-time co-production between Antoine Graillot of the Rhône (he’s the youngest son of fabled Alain G) and Raúl Pérez of Bierzo, North West Spain. Made from 100 per cent Mencia – deeply trendy at the moment – it’s vinified in concrete and then aged for ten months in large oak vats. The result is a full-flavoured red that’s both rustic and elegant, both fruity and savoury. Decant the tannins away and enjoy its long, satisfying finish.

    2014 Roebuck Estates Classic Cuvée, 12%vol, (£35; www.roebuckestates.com)

    This English sparkler from vineyards near Petworth, West Sussex, was completely new to me and it quite bowled me over. A classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, produced in the champagne method followed by lengthy oak-ageing, it was a worthy winner of a gold medal at the recent Wine GB Awards. With zingy citrus and warm toasty brioche and a touch of cream, it’s a very sophisticated and stylish fizz indeed.