GIBSON ON GRAPES: A look at wine families and origins

One of the most fascinating things about wine is the people behind the labels.

Saturday, 13th August 2016, 6:00 am

One of the most fascinating things about wine is the people behind the labels.

Generally speaking, I’ve always found the most interesting wines are made by people who are passionate about what they do.

Outside of the big brands, families are at the heart of the wine business.

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Muga Reserva

There are families who have made wine in their vineyards for generations, and there are families who started more recently.

But they all have one thing in common – it’s their name and reputation on the labels.

Majestic are focusing this month on wine families, so here are four wines I’d gladly take home this weekend.

On the back of the current deserved interest in Cape Chenin, Leeuwenkuil Chenin Blanc 2016, Swartland (Majestic £8.99 but £6.99 if part of a mixed six) is great value for money.

Dolcetto dAlba

Made by the Dreyer family, who bought this farm back in the 1850s, the Swartland region is one of the world’s most talked about wine regions.

This is really fresh with pear and apple and a refreshing acidity, followed by a mouth-watering finish. It’s not overly complex but that’s fine. This is a lovely summer wine – try it with a seafood salad.

The Zuccardi family are recognised as one of Argentina’s leading producers, with the Life Time Achievement Award at this year’s International Wine Challenge going to Jose Zuccardi, who now makes wine with his equally talented son, Sebastian.

Zuccardi ‘Brazos’ Malbec 2014, Valle de Uco (Majestic £9.99, but £7.99 if part of a mixed six) is a great example of why Malbec is currently one of our favourite red grapes.

Muga Reserva

Rich, ripe, bramble dark fruits with a little spice from some oak ageing, this never slips into the ‘jammy’ style sometimes found with Malbecs at this price. Try this with some barbecued lamb cutlets.

Dolcetto d’Alba 2015, De Forrville (Majestic £9.99 but £8.99 if part of a mixed six) is made by the De Forville family who have made wine in Piedmont, Northern Italy, since the 1860s.

Dolcetto is perhaps a lesser-known grape variety, but it’s delicious. Its attraction is its youthful fruit, dark cherry, blackcurrant and liquorice, followed by a soft, fruity mouth feel.

This is going to be perfect with a simple mid-week tomato pasta or pizza.

Dolcetto dAlba

Lastly, one of Rioja’s great wine making families and an estate I’ve visited on a number of occasions, Muga Reserva 2012, Rioja (Majestic £16.99 but £14.99 if part of a mixed six).

The Muga family have been making wine in Rioja since 1922, and this is classic, traditional style Reserva Rioja. A Tempranillo-led blend, which has been aged in oak for two years.

There are dark fruits, chocolate, spices, coffee and some savoury elements on the nose, followed by ripe tannins and ripe, dark fruit, before a long complex finish. Try this with some slow cooked lamb.