I hesitate to write the first sentence of this week’s wine column but it really does seem as if we are having a fabulous summer – cue the heavens opening now!
I lived in South Africa for a few years and one of the things that still gives me the most pleasure in life is standing outside on a warm evening with the barbecue (or braai as it is called there) lit, good company and a glass of wine in my hand.
Well we certainly seem to have the weather currently, but what to drink with your barbecue?
A general rule of thumb for me is that the wines – and of course there are always exceptions to every rule – must be able to compete with the smoky, charred, spicy flavours that are more often than not associated with barbecued foods.
Whites and rosés obviously have their place and indeed can work as more than aperitifs, depending on what you are cooking. But this week some thoughts on reds.
Malbec is an obvious port of call, especially if you are cooking beef or burgers over the coals.
Exquisite Collection Malbec 2017, Uco Valley (Aldi £5.99) is first and foremost really good value and delivers everything you could ask for this at this price level.
The nose has plenty of red plum and violets plus a touch of spice, the palate has some more dark fruit and maybe a little mocha. While it doesn’t have the longest of finishes it never becomes over-ripe or jammy and would more than happily work with beef burgers with a spicy relish.
Clos de Los Siete 2014, Uco Valley (Sainsbury’s £16 Waitrose, Ocado £16.30) is altogether a different beast. Made by Frenchman Michel Rolland, it is a blend of malbec with the addition of a little merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc and petit verdot and is very modern in style.
In the glass the colour is almost impenetrable, the bouquet is very bold with dark fruits, chocolate, coffee spice and vanilla, on the palate the fruit coats your mouth before a long, ripe finish.
This is a fairly massive wine – it comes in at 14.5 per cent – and there is no doubt it will be a crowd-pleaser for those who like this sort of style. And it will certainly match up to barbecued ribeye steak.
Tempranillo is another good barbecue performer but rather than heading for Spain, how about something a little different from Australia?
Running with Bulls Tempranillo 2014, South Australia (Co-op £7.99) takes its name from the famous bull run in Pamplona.
It should be noted at this point that there is another version of this wine which is oaked and from the more specific region of Barossa, available from independent wine merchants, a step up in quality and more expensive.
This is unoaked and has lovely notes of red fruits including cherry, liquorice and some nice earthy notes, followed by a juicy palate with some more red fruits and some dried herbs.
It would work well with lamb or a Spanish-influenced pork dish.