Easter is the first holiday of the year; spring weather we hope and a time for families to get together around the lunch table.
Unlike the traditional Christmas turkey, Easter isn’t quite set in its ways, but it’s difficult not to think roast spring lamb and of course chocolate.
More of the chocolate next week, but today I’m looking at some wines with which to celebrate Easter.
Some fizz to start. I spent a day last week at Exton Park, another on the list of Hampshire’s growing number of world-class wine producers.
There are some fantastic sparkling wines being produced on the slopes above the Meon Valley there, not to mention the views, and this is a winery to watch.
I really like their Brut Reserve, but for Easter I think the very pretty Exton Park Rosé (extonparkwines £29.95 if part of six bottles, Camber Wines, Portsmouth £27) is a perfect Easter fizz. Delicate but with lovely summer fruits on the nose, tiny bubbles and a well-balanced palate, it works as an aperitif or would happily go with red berry dessert.
The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough (Majestic £10.99 but £6.99 when bought as part of a mixed six until March 28) must be one of the great wine success stories of the past decade.
It never ceases to amaze me how many dinner tables I see it on.
It is a wine of the times I guess, not as big and broad as many Kiwi sauvignons. It’s a bit leaner with green herbs, gooseberries and some minerals with a classic zesty finish. It’s a real crowdpleaser, very difficult not to like and at the offer price, a real bargain.
Roast lamb, whether slow-cooked and falling off the bone or juicy and pink, is fairly accommodating when it comes to wine. Rioja is a natural partner. Muga Reserva 2012, Rioja (Majestic £16.99 but £14.99 when bought as part of a mixed six until March 28) is without question produced by one of Rioja’s leading producers and this is a great example of their style.
Made from 70 per cent tempranillo with the balance being the other traditional Rioja grapes, it’s aged in small oak barrels for 24 months and then a further year in bottle before release.
The nose shows dark fruit, liquorice, mocha and a touch of black olive. The palate has some grip with more dark fruit, spices and a touch of vanilla. This could benefit from breathing for a couple of hours before serving.
If you are looking for a bargain then Axis Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Lidl £6.49), pictured right, is one of those wines that when I’ve tasted it I end up asking myself how they manage to produce a wine like that at that price. I’ve still no idea, however it shows classic Coonawarra notes of mint along with blackcurrant and some exotic spices, there are ripe tannins and some length. Its not overly complex but don’t take that as a criticism, this is a bargain.