ALISTAIR GIBSON: Some wines to celebrate the warmer days of spring
I think, technically, the English asparagus season starts on April 23, St George's Day.
But I was lucky enough to have my first taste of new season asparagus this week.
To me, it is always the start of spring, with warmer days and dishes to match.
So here are a few wines to celebrate the arrival of spring. Let’s hope the weather decides to play along as well!
Viognier is a grape whose aromas are almost spring in a glass. From its home in the northern Rhone it now has plantings across southern France and on to the new world, with Australia achieving particular success.
Domaine Gayda Viognier 2016, Pays d’Oc (slurp.co.uk £9.95, wineswithattitude.co.uk £10.90) is a fantastic example of this grape, made at one of the most forward-thinking wineries in the Languedoc.
The bouquet literally explodes out of the glass with honeysuckle blossom and apricot, followed by more rich fruit on the palate.
But this is balanced by bright acidity and a lovely freshness. A perfect spring wine.
Match it with a fruity chicken tagine or a mild creamy curry such as a korma.
If you’ve managed to find some early new season asparagus, then sauvignon blanc is the perfect match, although personally I prefer the slightly more elegant versions from the Cape or the Loire Valley as opposed to the more powerful Marlborough wines with asparagus.
Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Elgin (bushvines.co.uk £10.50 or winesdirect.co.uk £11.95) is produced in South Africa’s coolest wine-growing region and is made with the addition of a little barrel-fermented semillon.
This is such pure wine with notes of grapefruit, green herbs and minerals on the nose, followed by a really vibrant palate with crisp acidity, citrus, green nettles and a touch of gooseberry before a long, fresh finish.
This is one of the Cape’s top sauvignon blancs and without doubt worth making a special effort to track down.
Spring must also mean its time to think about rose, so how about an English rose?
Chapel Down English Rose 2015 (Sainsbury’s £11) is blend of various grapes, but includes a good dollop of pinot noir.
It’s a really attractive colour with summer red fruits on the nose, almost strawberries and cream, followed by a crunchy red currants and a refreshingly dry finish.
It would make a lovely evening aperitif, or serve with some simply grilled seafood.
Lastly, if you’re about to embark on the first barbecue of the season, Domaine Gayda Figure Libre Freestyle Rouge 2015, Pays d’Oc (slurp.co.uk £13.95) is a blend of syrah, grenache, carignan and mourvèdre with a fantastically quirky label.
This bold red would be fantastic with a spicy, smokey butterflied leg of lamb on the barbecue . Here’s to the arrival of spring.