Vegetarian wines – Alistair Gibson

Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2018, MarlboroughPeter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough
Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough
I received a sample bottle a few weeks ago which stated on the label ‘plant based’.  Surely all wine is plant based?

But it got me thinking, as it’s National Vegetarian Week this week, wine seems to be a good place to start.

To clarify – excuse the pun – wine is made from grapes, but that does not necessarily make it vegetarian or vegan.

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Some winemaking methods make, perhaps surprising, use of animal-derived products.

Mirabeau Forever Summer RosMirabeau Forever Summer Ros
Mirabeau Forever Summer Ros

Without getting too caught up in the science, winemakers use finings to remove yeasts and other solid matters before bottling and many of these may be animal based.

Among others the list includes egg whites, isinglass – derived from the swim bladders of certain fish – and gelatine.

Egg whites are okay for vegetarians but none of them work for vegans.

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Luckily these days there are plenty of fining agents that are not derived from animals, which with increased interest and demand, is why an increasing number of producers now state whether the wine is vegan or vegetarian on the label.

Cune Reserva 2013, RiojaCune Reserva 2013, Rioja
Cune Reserva 2013, Rioja

So this week I have white, rose and red vegetarian wines for you to enjoy. 

Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough (Waitrose £8.59 on offer from £11.59 until June 11) is not only vegan but this producer is very much focused on both sustainability and the environment too.

This is classic Marlborough in style, the nose is very fresh with passion fruit, fresh herbs, tomato leaf and citrus, followed by a palate showing lovely purity of fruit with some zesty, refreshing acidity on the finish.

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While on offer, this is really good value and it would work nicely with the last of the season’s English asparagus.

Mirabeau ‘Forever Summer’ Rosé (Launches in Sainsbury’s on May 20 RRP £11) is the wine that prompted this week’s column. It is a brand new wine, produced by one of the leading lights of Provence and at only 11.5 per cent alcohol it is made in very much a lighter style.

It’s a very pretty pale colour with a bouquet of fresh red berry fruits and citrus, followed by a dry, fresh palate with a nice twist of citrus on the finish.

As the name suggests this is the perfect summer’s evening wine – either as an aperitif or with a tomato and black olive tart.

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Cune Reserva 2013, Rioja (Waitrose £9.99 on offer from £13.39 until June 11) is always one of the region’s most reliable reserva wines, even in a supposedly weaker vintage. 

Mainly tempranillo with 15 per cent being a mix of garnacha, graciano and mazuelo, it was aged for 18 months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels.

The nose offers violets, red berries, dried herbs and some very nice toasty oak notes. The palate is beautifully balanced with more red fruits, spice and some earthiness and silky tannins. Perfect with a mushroom risotto. 

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