Take refuge from the storms with these wonderful wines | Alistair Gibson

The past two weekends have seen the UK buffeted by two of the largest storms of the winter.

Friday, 21st February 2020, 4:24 pm
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 4:24 pm
Vasse Felix Filius

I felt their impact as I had to extend my stay on the Isle of Wight.

That’s how I ended up perusing the shelves of the wine department of Waitrose, in East Cowes.

So here are the three wines I ended up putting in my shopping trolley and the reasons why.

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Cune Rioja

Despite the vagaries of fashion, chardonnay produces some of the world’s great white wines and it is a grape that is never far away from my dinner table. I was lucky enough to visit Western Australia’s Margaret River region some years ago and one of the real highlights of that visit was the Vasse Felix Estate and its chardonnay wines.

Vasse Felix is the oldest commercial winery in the region, having been established in 1967 and the wines are made by one of Australia’s most renowned female winemakers, Virginia Willcock.

Vasse Felix ‘Felius’ Chardonnay 2018, Margaret River (Waitrose £12.99) is a great introduction to some of the truly outstanding wines of this producer.

It was aged in a mixed of mainly older French oak barriques for eight months, and shows an inviting nose of citrus, pear, peach and a little spice, followed by a medium bodied but fresh palate with bright acidity and more pear and peach before a long, elegant finish. There’s a little complexity here and it makes a lovely partner to a seafood risotto or a simple roast chicken.

Reserve du mistral

Rioja is a region I have visited many times in the past few years and there is little doubt that red Rioja is a consumer favourite in the UK.

Cune is one the most consistent producers in the region and Cune Reserva 2014, Rioja (Waitrose £13.99 – also available in magnums £26.69 which work brilliantly for a dinner party) is a text book wine.

Made from mainly tempranillo but with a little garnacha, granciano and mazuelo in the blend adds greatly to the complexity of the wine. It was aged for 18 months in a mixture of French and American oak.

The bouquet offers autumn red fruits, vanilla spices and a little coffee, the palate shows good intensity with silky tannins and some nice bright red fruits before a long, fresh finish.

This worked beautifully with a slow-cooked, roasted shoulder of lamb.

I was asked the other day whether I was a Burgundy or Bordeaux drinker, the answer is neither. If I had a favourite red wine region of France it would be the Rhône Valley and I constantly return to Cotes du Rhône for value.

Reserve du Mistral 2017, Famille Perrin (Waitrose £8.99 on offer from £11.99 until March 10) is made by one of the most respected producers in France.

This is, in many ways, a baby Châteauneuf du Pape but offers such good value for money, especially while on offer.

A blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, there are dark fruits, some dried herbs and a little wood spice in the background, followed by more fruit and spice on the medium bodied palate with a warm, supple finish. This went perfectly with the lamb and it would be a perfect red wine with which to take shelter from the storm.