ALISTAIR GIBSON: Why not play Tonto to the Cape's Roan Ranger?
Wine is such an amazingly diverse product; there are simply so many grape varieties, styles and regions it would be impossible to try them all in a lifetime, but that's half the fun '“ there is always something else.
It would, of course, be easy to stick to your favourite wine but then you’d be missing out on a whole world of other styles and experiences.
The best way to experience new wine is to put some in your glass and taste it, preferably with someone who can tell you the story of where it comes from and how it was made.
So, having said all that, and with Christmas in mind, here is a chance to taste some new wines. Thursday, November 3, sees a Christmas Wine Fair at the Brookfield Hotel, Emsworth. Tickets are £5 each (available from The Brookfield Hotel on 01243 373363), with proceeds going to Havant Hockey Club’s youth development programme, and for that you get to taste more than 40 wines with their agents in the UK.
There will be some quality producers opening their bottles from Champagne to Stellenbosch and lots in between.
There are too many to list here, but here are two I would have in my wine rack in time for Christmas.
Albariño is a great example of a grape that was hardly known here until a few years ago. Now, with tapas being all the rage, it has become a very fashionable grape indeed.
Well here is next year’s trendy Spanish white grape, Godello, which is again from the cooler climes of the north-west of Spain and shares many similarities with its better-known relation.
To quote Jancis Robinson: ‘Godello combines the structure of white burgundy with the finesse of a juicily mineral grape’ and rather like her I’ve seldom found an example that disappoints.
Godello 2015, Lagar Da Xestosa, Monterrey, Galicia (£9. 25 on the night) is a lovely introduction to the variety. Un-oaked, it has lovely ripe, peach-like fruit, a hint of salinity, citrus and white flowers on the nose, followed by a nicely textured palate and a finish that keeps you coming back for more. Perfect with some simply-cooked fish and great value.
One of the best value red wines I’ve tasted all year is The Roan Ranger 2014, Darling (£7.95 on the night). Not only is it a very clever name, but the label is almost art.
This is a Rhone-style blend of cinsault, grenache and mourvèdre from the Cape west coast wine region of Darling.
It manages to do something more wines should strive for. It is simply very drinkable, the sort of wine that doesn’t need a huge fanfare. Just open it and it exudes juicy red fruits plus a hint of spice and a touch of earthiness.
It’s fruit-forward but never becomes over-sweet and has a lovely freshness.
It’s just the sort of wine to open on Boxing Day to go with the leftovers.
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth – 01243 431002.