Anthony Rose: It won't come as any great surprise that the French have their share of amorously named wines
Saturday 14 February 2009
According to my contacts in the PR world, today is the day for romance. I'm not quite sure how they think we're supposed to fill the remaining 364 days of the year, but amid all the encouragement to ply my love with champagne and say it with flowers and chocolates, one wine PR had the honesty to preface its brazen plug with the words, "Even for those who consider Valentine's Day to be a cheesy, opportunistic marketing ploy, it's still a good excuse to pop open the pink".
At least it's a chance too to hark back to a nostalgic era of genuine excitement at receiving that mysteriously unsigned card, even if for some of us those days are a distant, sepia-toned memory. Perhaps more of a blush-tone for one distracted wine magazine editor, who was to be seen wandering about his office sighing and clutching his jacket breast pocket, which contained a passionate and intimate love poem. His colleagues omitted to let on that the entire UK press had received a similar anonymous billet-doux, revealed on the day itself to be an unblushing puff for Mercier Champagne.
It won't come as any great surprise to find that the French have their fair share of amorously named wines. You might try a beaujolais called Saint Amour, the côtes du rhône Mon Coeur (My Heart), Hugel's Cuvée les Amours perhaps, not forgetting the ultimate Valentine brand, Château Saint-Valentin, or the famous red burgundy, Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses.
Not to let the French have it all their own way, Australia's 2006 Heartland Dolcetto Lagre, £9.80, Great Western Wine, Bath, is a seductive, juicy, cherry and blackberry red with an Italianate nip of fresh acidity.
Pink effervescence has improved so enormously from the days when it was just a by-product. Among the classiest examples on the market, Bollinger Rosé, around £55, Waitrose, Fine Wine, Majestic, Berry Bros, is gorgeously seductive, with its red berry perfume and creamy mousse. New out this year, the 2004 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé, £59.99-£65, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Planet of the Grapes, London W1, is another study in luxury, with its foaming mousse of bubbles. The amorous liaison will be completed very nicely thank you with smoked salmon or lobster.
If the price of love comes too dear, try instead Asda's dry, summer-pudding fruit-flavoured, deliciously bright Rosé Champagne, £15, down from £22.76, a silver medal winner at the Decanter awards; or, if you prefer your love in a small package, Oudinot Rosé, in a cute little half bottle and its own gift carton, £8.79, reduced by 20 per cent (as is all Marks & Spencer rosé to 18 February) from £10.99. With so much other rosé craving attention, why necessarily make it champagne at all? One of the best non-champagne sparklers on the market is Marks & Spencer's strawberry fruity, joyously juicy Prosecco Rosé, normally £7.49, but a steal at its Valentine's Day price of £5.99. If you haven't tried the Fresita Sparkling Rosé, £4.99, reduced from £6.99 at Sainsbury's for the next three days, this medium-sweet, strawberryish Chilean wine blended with real Patagonian strawberries is as frothy, light and fun as candy floss, and less saccharine, or potentially harmful, than cards saying "B Mine, Love Monster Fuzzy Bear Wants to Smooch Unfrogettable Tons".
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