Valentine’s wine for hungry hearts – Alistair Gibson

Les Pionniers Pink Champagne
Les Pionniers Pink Champagne

How will you be spending Valentine’s day this year? Whether it’s with a loved one, friends or  by yourself, I always think it’s the first official excuse of the year to open a decent bottle of wine. 

Maybe it’s a bottle to remind you of a special memory, a first kiss or a memorable holiday. Or perhaps you’ll get caught up in the moment and splash out on something to impress?

The Chocolate Block Swartland

The Chocolate Block Swartland

Whatever your motivation, a nice bottle of wine has to be a better option than overpriced roses and a schmaltzy card. Or is that just the Valentine’s Grinch in me?

We probably need to start with something fizzy and pink, and if you’re serious it probably needs to be Champagne.

I have long thought one of the best quality supermarket Champagnes is the Co-op’s Les Pionniers Brut NV (Co-op £18.99) and last year they added a rosé, which is equally as impressive.

Les Pionniers NV Rosé Champagne (Co-op £21.99), like the Brut is made for Co-op by Piper Heidsieck and is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay.

Bollinger Rose NV Champagne

Bollinger Rose NV Champagne

A lovely bright pink colour with fine, persistent bubbles rising in the glass, the nose has red fruits and a touch of orange zest, which is followed by a mouth-filling palate with well-balanced acidity and more red fruits.

If I had to choose just one rosé Champagne there is no doubt it would be Bollinger Rosé Brut NV (widely available including Waitrose £49.99). Not only do I think it’s a terrific Champagne but it’s one of those wines that holds special memories for me.

It’s a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier with a small amount of the pinot noir vinified as red wine.

A beautiful colour in the glass, there are notes of wild red berries and red cherry, as well as a touch of spice and fresh bread on the nose, followed by more red fruits, a lovely silky texture on the palate before a long, lingering finish. 

Domaine Matray Saint Amour

Domaine Matray Saint Amour

This is very classy Champagne.

Perhaps the best named wine for Valentine’s Day is the Beaujolais Cru Saint-Amour and Saint-Amour 2017, Domaine Matray (alpinewines.co.uk £16.80).

The nose is very aromatic with red fruits and a little spice, followed by light to medium bodied palate with crunchy red fruits and a fresh, long finish. 

Lastly perhaps the perfect Valentine’s wine, as it manages to combine that other Valentine’s staple in its name, is The Chocolate Block 2017, Swartland (Hermitage Cellars £18.50). This has become a South Africa’s cult wine, made by Boekenhoutskloof, which believe me is easier to pronounce after a glass or two.

It’s an amazing blend of syrah, grenache, cinsault, cabernet sauvignon and viognier. The 2017 vintage is an absolute cracker.

There are dark berries, black olives, spice, dried herbs and yes, even a little touch of mocha, followed by a very generous palate with fine tannins and a very long finish.

Serve this with rib eye steak, a perfect wine for hungry hearts.