ALISTAIR GIBSON: Red, white and rosÃ© for a glorious English summer
May is here, the cricket season has started, a bank holiday is just behind us and another is on its way.
Hopefully it’s the start of a glorious English summer.
Local asparagus is in the shops and no doubt barbecues have already been lit.
So here are some bottles in the hope that the weather delivers.
English sparkling wines may have grabbed all the headlines over the past few years, and with more and more vineyards being planted they will continue to do so.
But please don’t forget English white wine.
Lamberhurst Estate Bacchus Reserve 2015 (M&S £14) is made exclusively for Marks and Spencer by Kent’s Chapel Down winery and shows just what can be achieved with the bacchus grape.
As a grape, bacchus shares some similarities with sauvignon blanc and this would make a lovely partner to an asparagus salad starter.
It’s very fresh with lime and grapefruit on the nose and notes of an early summer hedgerow.
That’s followed by really zesty acidity, more lime flavours and some grassy notes before a very satisfying dry finish.
This is top quality English white wine.
Now, when it comes to labels I don’t think you could find a more perfect summer wine than Pinot Blanc 2015, Cave de Ribeauville, Alsace (Hennings Wine £15.99) with its butterfly-festooned images.
The wine itself is the perfect summer all-rounder.
It’s made by the oldest wine co-operative in France and in accordance with bio-dynamic principles.
Please don’t confuse this with its Italian cousin pinot grigio.
This is really fresh, with floral aromas and ripe pears, followed by a rich, ripe and fruity mouth feel with a lovely texture and a dry nutty, finish.
Serve this with summer salads or a simple quiche lunch.
Summer must also mean there is some rosé in the fridge.
There is little doubt that Côtes de Provence rosé is the current destination for paler, dry rosés.
Mirabeau Etoile Rosé 2016, Côtes de Provence (Sainsbury’s £16) is the top cuvée produced at this well-known English-owned wine estate and it is delicious.
Very pale in colour, almost water white, the bouquet just reminds you of summer.
There is orange peel, lime and subtler fruits followed by a fresh, almost creamy, palate with more notes of orange and lively acidity.
This is a rosé that has enough about it to partner food.
So why not try it with a Mediterranean-style simple fish dish in the garden?
As you light those barbecue coals you’re going to need a red wine. Perez Burton Tempranillo 2015, Rioja (M&S £11) is produced by Telmo Rodriguez, one of Rioja’s leading lights, and this is a classic, youthful red rioja.
It’s full of juicy red fruits, a touch of sweet oak in the background, some silky tannins and more than enough interest to make this great value.
It just needs some charred lamb on the barbecue and summer will have officially arrived.