ALISTAIR GIBSON: Don’t forget the pencil sharpener

A great example of Beaujolais
A great example of Beaujolais
Simon and Helen Pattinson, founders of Montezumas, the premium chocolate company                 Picture Julie Toms

Chocolate and wine – the perfect partnership at Emsworth British Food Fortnight

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It has to be said it’s not quite the celebration it was, but Thursday saw the official release of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau.

Almost the wine equivalent of the start of the grouse-shooting season, during the ’80s, this event saw wine merchants and restaurateurs race down to Beaujolais to be the first to bring back the new wine.

Try with a mild curry

Try with a mild curry

However, it all rather faded away as production of Nouveau grew more and more and the whole wine region became associated with a wine which, whisper it quietly, really wasn’t very good.

I haven’t yet tasted this year’s vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, but here are a few lighter reds that are bound to be more enjoyable.

The Wine Society’s Exhibition Côte de Brouilly 2015, (winesociety.com £9.50) is a lovely example of just what pleasure Beaujolais can offer.

Côte de Brouilly is one of the 10 crus, or villages, of Beaujolais, which are allowed to use their name on the label.

This should indicate higher quality than standard Beaujolais and is one of the smallest crus.

From a very good vintage, this has a really inviting nose of cherry and blackberry, followed by a pure palate with crunchy fruit and a fresh finish.

This is almost too easy to enjoy.

Chill it slightly, may be half-an-hour in the fridge, and serve with a sausage and lentil casserole or some soft cheeses.

Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard 2014, Rioja (Majestic £9.49 or £6.99 as part of a mixed six) is a young Rioja made from a blend of tempranillo and garnacha, with minimum oak ageing.

If more traditional oak-aged Riojas are all a bit heavy for you, this might be your way into the wines of this great wine region.

It’s all about freshness, with strawberry, red cherry and blackberry fruit, just a hint of vanilla and a supple, easy feel in the mouth with a longer finish than might be expected.

Again you could chill this briefly and then serve with a pork and chorizo dish or, it went surprisingly well with a mild curry!

Chinon ‘Les Graviers’ 2014 Les Complices de Loire (Waitrose £9.99, Ocado £9.99) is from the Loire Valley.

This is an area more known for its whites then red and Chinon produces some more interesting wines in the region.

Made from cabernet franc, a relation to its better-known cousin cabernet sauvignon, this has a little more body than the previous two wines.

There are juicy red fruits, a touch of pencil shavings and some peppery notes.

The palate is very smooth, with soft tannins and more complexity than I might have expected at this price.

This is the sort of wine that you would find in a Parisian bistro poured from a carafe.

It is very food-friendly; try it with some pan-fried tuna, a roast chicken or again, some soft cheeses.

Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call 01243 431002.