Doing what I do, I end up tasting a huge amount of wine every week.
Of course, there’s a vast difference between tasting and drinking, so it’s quite interesting sometimes to look back and see what I’ve drunk.
Easter weekend has just gone by with lots of family lunches and gatherings , so here are some wines that made an appearance. You may have to hunt a few of them down, but that’s part of the fun!
Let’s start with a glass of fizz to celebrate my mother’s birthday.
Generally I think sparkling wines are not South Africa’s strongest suit but Klein Constantia MCC Brut 2012, Constantia (£15.99 sawinesonline.co.uk) is an exception.
Made from 100 per cent chardonnay in one of the Cape’s cooler growing areas, this is lovely sparkling wine with fine bubbles and notes of citrus, pear and freshly-baked biscuit. The palate is nicely balanced, with ripe acidity and some zesty citrus notes. A great aperitif and really good value for this quality.
Staying in South Africa, I think chenin blanc is a real crowd-pleaser and very versatile with food. AA Badenhorst Papegaai 2015, Swartland (£11.95 swig.co.uk) is chenin blanc blended with a little marsanne and viognier from one of the most interesting producers you could ever wish to meet.
I once spent a memorable afternoon at his winery tasting wine, looking out over an amazing view and listening to Bob Dylan.
This has lots of ripe stone fruit on the nose, peaches in particular, followed by a textured palate but with enough zesty acidity to keep it interesting. It worked really well with a creamy fish pie.
Moving onto reds Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Aconcagua Valley (Waitrose £13.99) is a long way from entry point Chilean cabernet sauvignon and was fantastic with ribeye steak.
The nose is very reminiscent of Bordeaux with cassis, spice, cedar and maybe just a little mint. There is real structure on the palate with more dark berry fruit, fine tannins and fresh acidity. This is powerful but elegant Chilean cabernet sauvignon, which did benefit from decanting an hour beforehand.
Roast lamb is very much part of Easter and we slow-roasted a shoulder and served Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem 2014, Cotes du Roussillon (£17.95 slurp.co.uk, swig.co.uk £14.88 down from £17.50) which was a fantastic match.
It is produced by M Chapoutier who is better known for his Rhone wines. He bought land in the Roussillon in 2000 and with old vines and low yields, produces these wines bio-dynamically although they are not as yet certified.
This is a blend of syrah, grenache and carignan matured in mainly old oak casks. It has a deep colour, with dark fruits, leather, liquorice and wild herbs followed by an amazing freshness on the palate along with ripe tannins and a really long, mouth-filling finish. Sensational wine from a region of France not regularly associated with wine of this quality.