Pinot grigio, rosé and chablis for asparagus season – Alistair Gibson

If you read this column regularly you will know that, for me, seasonal produce is one of the great joys of food and wine matching.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 4:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 4:18 pm
La Monetta Gavi de Comune di Gavi 2018

The English asparagus season is one of the true great seasonal products that still exists. It is only here for a brief time, before – in my mind at least – the inferior offerings from Peru or Mexico return to the shelves. 

Make the most of it while it’s here, I certainly am.

When it comes to food and wine pairings, asparagus is often thought of as one of the most difficult to match but I’ve experimented a lot over the years and I really think there are lots of options. The obvious go-to variety is sauvignon blanc but as it is International Sauvignon Blanc Day on May 3, I’m going to stick to other varieties this week and come back in next week’s column to celebrate all things sauvignon blanc. 

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AIX Ros 2018 Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence

Just like any dish, wine to pair with asparagus will be affected by what other ingredients are on the plate.

So here are three dishes I have had over the last week with some wine thoughts to match.

Generally speaking, Italian dry white wines are good partners for asparagus and when it comes to a risotto they seem natural bedfellows. 

Risotto has a certain creaminess so a fresh, crisp dry white to cut through some of that is what is required.

Waitrose Chablis

A good quality pinot grigio would be fine but the pairing of La Monetta Gavi del Comune di Gavi 2018 (Waitrose £9.49 on offer from £12.79 until May 14, also Ocado £9.59 on offer from £12.79) was just about perfect and this is good value while on offer.

Made from local cortese grape without the use of any oak, this is really fresh with notes of spring blossom, citrus and a little tropical fruit on the nose followed by more citrus fruit and green herbs on the palate with a nice crisp finish.

One of my favourite ways to serve asparagus is to blanche it first and then chargrill it or barbecue it and serve it with shaved parmesan, oven dried Parma ham and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I think this even allows you to serve a light, slightly chilled, red wine but I have found that a Provence rose? can work really well here as well.

AIX Rose? 2018 Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Hermitage Cellars £12.95 on offer from £14.30) is the latest vintage from this highly respected producer – a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah.

A very pretty, pale pink colour in the glass, the nose is very fragrant with notes of wild strawberries, watermelon and orange peel, followed by a fresh, zesty palate with crisp acidity and a longish finish.

Finally if you are serving your asparagus with melted butter or mayonnaise then a simple, village chablis can be a good match.

Waitrose Chablis 2017 (Waitrose £10.49 on offer from £13.99) is great value for money while on offer. 

There are citrus notes and some minerals on the bouquet, followed by an elegant, crisp palate and a surprisingly long finish.

It worked really rather well with this dish.