ALISTAIR GIBSON: Alp! Why do I get served such poor wine when in France?

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Chetna Makan

Food and drink: Bake-Off star Chetna Makan talks about the tasty world of Indian food

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I ‘ve just spent a week in the French alps and it never ceases to amaze me that, in a country that produces so much wonderful wine, the wine I always seem to get served in a chalet is so poor?

I found myself in a supermarket looking for something to drink with dinner one night and it made me ask myself – what do I turn to for a drinkable, tasty wine?

Robert Oatley Hancock & Hancock Fiano 2016

Robert Oatley Hancock & Hancock Fiano 2016

I actually found a bottle of Côtes du Rhône Belleruche 2015 M Chapoutier (Majestic £11.99 or if part of a mixed six £7.99) on the shelves, which is one of my go-to wines from one of France’s most respected winemakers.

The Chapoutier family has produced wines in the Rhône Valley for generations, but it is really only since the current family member, Marc Chapoutier, took over the business in the ’90s that wines have shone so brightly.

This is a blend of grenache and syrah from the brilliant 2015 vintage, with aromas of dried herbs, dark fruits including cherries and just a touch of white pepper. The palate has ripe berry fruits, a touch of liquorice and a little tannin. Try this with a lamb casserole.

Out of interest, it was also more expensive in France as well.

So from one of my go-to wines, to something completely different; a pair of wines that show just how diverse and exciting wine really can be. Fiano is an Italian grape rarely seen outside southern Italy, but plantings in the ‘new world’ and Australia in particular are showing some great results.

Hancock & Hancock Fiano 2016, McLaren Vale (Fareham Wine Cellar £12.49) is a lovely wine aged in old oak barrels to allow the fruit to really express itself.

The nose offers citrus, peach and pear skin followed by a bright zesty feel, with more citrus fruit in the mouth and a dry refreshing finish. Try this with some simple seafood.

Gewurztraminer is probably a ‘Marmite’ sort of grape, but with the right food I think it is one of the most interesting grapes. Its home is in Alsace, but Villa Maria Gewürztraminer 2016, East Coast (Majestic £10.99 or if part of a mixed six £8.99, Waitrose £7.99 on offer from £10.99 until April 18) shows just how good New Zealand examples can be.

This has the classic aromas of lychees, rose petal and spices, followed by a textural palate with tropical fruits, some richness but enough acidity to keep it vibrant.