Drink: Good things come to an end

IN THE United States, when you want to bring something unpleasant to an end you are "seeking closure". This week I am seeking closure in two (not at all unpleasant) areas. First, the Wine Relief raffle. I received 51 cheques for pounds 5, and the one plucked from the hat came from Peter Wood of Loscoe, Derbyshire. Many thanks to all who entered, your cheques are on their way to Wine Relief.

Second, my tasting of Alsace whites. Last week it was Gewurztraminer, this week it's Pinot and Riesling, which have a lot more to offer. Riesling Clos Hauserer 1996, Zind-Humbrecht (Wine Rack/Bottoms Up, pounds 13.29) sums up what the grape can do: smoky, hauntingly mineral aromas and piercing acidity with restrained, elegant lime fruit flavours which seem to sweeten and mellow in the mouth. It is easily worth the money, and will go on improving for a good number of years, mellowing out to achieve the full set of layered flavours that Alsace Riesling can achieve.

Of my other Rieslings, Graffenreben Riesling 1996 (Tesco, pounds 6.99) has loads of elegant lime fruit and good acidity. Martin Schaetzel Cuvee Reserve Riesling 1997 (Oddbins pounds 6.49) adds some of the fine mineral character to the lime flavours, and with decent acidity and a good finish. This is a terrific buy. And Olivier Zind-Humbrecht's Pinot Blanc Vielles Vignes 1996 (Wine Rack, pounds 9.99) has faint musky perfume, superb acidity and intense citrus fruit, with biscuity notes.

Of two close-runners in the Pinot stakes, one comes from up north - northern England, that is. Tokay Pinot Gris "Clos du Vicus Romain" 1996, Grand Cru Hengst, Stentz (Booth, pounds 8.49) has massive, gorgeous aromas and flavours of tart apples, with abundant acidity in fine balance. A lovely wine, refreshing but profound, and a star buy for anyone. I also heartily commend Pinot Blanc Auxerrois Cuvee Caroline 1997, Schoffit (Oddbins, pounds 8.49), with fresh floral and mineral qualities and tons of acidity.

Lower down in price there's still pleasure to be had. First stop is Waitrose, whose Pinot Blanc 1997, Blanck Freres (pounds 4.95) adds a touch of spice to sweet, fresh fruit, pretty good acidity and nice length. Not very serious but very enjoyable, and cheap. Second stop is Majestic, for its Tokay Pinot Gris 1997, Cave de Ribeauville (pounds 5.99): less profundity and less concentration and balance, but with a lingering fruity finish.

Third, Thresher/Wine Rack/Bottoms Up/Victoria Wines, for a Tokay Pinot Gris 1997 Reserve, Cave de Turckheim (pounds 5.79), with its fresh whiff of acidity riding on the crest of a wave of lemonade fruit. These make three fine choices for an aperitif, or for drinking with smoked salmon.

Before reaching full closure (for now) on Alsace, two points on these underrated wines. First: the merchants in the First Quench group (Thresher/Wine Rack/Bottoms Up/Victoria Wines) have the most interesting high-street selection - including some of the pricier wines, which are actually the biggest bargains of all given the price/quality ratio.

Second: Asda and M&S do not sell a single Alsace wine. They figure their customers won't buy them. I can only assume that they know what they're talking about, but it's a sad state of affairs when Alsace wines only account for 1 per cent of the UK's French wine imports.

On a completely different note: whenever I've been offered Belvoir Fruit Farms Cordials I've always drunk them with pleasure. The newest flavours, Summer Berries and Lime and Lemongrass (37.5cl, pounds 2.50 and pounds 2.30), are delicious when diluted with water in the usual way, but the Lime and Lemongrass reaches greater heights when you add a splash to a good tequila and squeeze in a little lime juice.

Call it an instant margarita. Or call it nothing at all, except a good, easy cocktail, to bring full closure to the trials of the day.

To drink now

Here's an Ozzie pair from Oddbins which are worth stashing away for a while. Yarra Valley Hills Chardonnay 1997 (pounds 8.99) is big in every sense, including alcohol - a hefty 13.5 per cent - but it's subtle stuff, generous fruit well-knitted with French oak. It'll benefit from another two to three years in the bottle, but can make you feel pretty good any time, beginning right now. Yarra Valley Hills Pinot Noir 1997 (also pounds 8.99) has a smoky nose and earthy black-cherry fruit with staying power and full round tannins. A fine mouthful from a grape that doesn't always achieve great things in Australia

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power