Top notes: Our expert selects the perfect bottles to bring a taste of spring to the mouth
Sunday 01 April 2012
Mercurey Vieilles Vignes Domaine Jean-Pierre Charton 2010
Brighter weather demands lighter wines – it is mostly Burgundy as opposed to Bordeaux time – and all the virtues of the former are present here: the restrained, silky elegance of Pinot Noir, the subtle, fresh flavours of cherries and wild berries, underpinned with a little oak. A light, sophisticated wine to be enjoyed with a rare tuna steak or a roast chicken. £17.08, goedhuis.com
A big red from southern Portugal, this is an unusual blend of Syrah and Merlot, together with native grapes such as Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, which deliver a rich, smooth, powerful wine, with a spicy edge from barrel-ageing. Definitely one for chillier spring days, after a long country walk, to accompany anything involving linguica sausage – a Portuguese cousin to chorizo – or maybe roast lamb on Easter Day. £13.95, harrods.com; £9.99, aitken wines.com (minimum order six bottles)
Torres Ibericos Rioja Crianza 2007/8
Not all Rioja has to be barrel-aged and oaky; it can be medium-bodied and bursting with vibrant, crunchy, red-berry flavours as here, even after a few years in the bottle, illustrating the amazing versatility of the Tempranillo grape. But there is deceptive depth here, with a long finish, making it perfect for all kinds of tapas or a big paella. £9.99, Waitrose
Anakana Indo Carmenère Cachapoal Valley 2010
Spring may herald the start of the barbecue season and Chile's Carmenère is a lovely grape to accompany outdoor cooking. Full-bodied, packed with ripe, juicy black-fruit flavours, it is as straightforward as a piece of grilled chicken or lamb, maybe with a little spicy relish. This one has flavours of tobacco, coffee and leather to give added depth and complexity. £8.99 (as part of a minimum purchase of six mixed bottles), majestic.co.uk
Accuro Torrontes 2009
Aromatic and fragrant on the nose, lusciously full-bodied on the palate, with lovely citrus flavours and pleasingly dry and crisp on the finish, this is a finely wrought example of Argentina's native white grape from a company specialising in the country's boutique wines. Good with any prime white fish, particularly if accompanied by sharp Asian flavours of lime and chilli. £13, ruta40.com
Turonia Albariño Rias Baixas Quinta Couselo 2010
Grown in the warm and wet Atlantic-facing Galician region of north-west Spain, the Albariño grape delivers medium-bodied, zippy, fresh, lemony wines such as this (as well as being responsible for Vinho Verde in Portugal), with an unmistakable salty tang and enough character about it to handle robust shellfish dishes, including the extraordinary percebes molluscs native to the area. £12.92, goedhuis.com
Sipon Furmint 2010
The undiscovered vinous treasures which might be found in countries such as Slovenia are hinted at in this delicious white made from the same local grape, Furmint, used for Hungary's famous Tokaji sweet wine, but which here is rendered in a completely different type of wine – an elegant assembly of spring-blossom aromas and crisp, dry, refreshing tastes of orchard fruits and hints of citrus. £9.95, thewinesociety.com
Tesco Finest Darling Sauvignon Blanc
This stunning South African Sauvignon Blanc can give those Kiwis from Marlborough a real challenge in the value stakes. Huge tropical-fruit mouth-filling flavours, balanced with refreshing gooseberry astringency, make this ideal for spring. Good for parties and one of the few wines that perfectly match English asparagus, which comes into season next month. £7.59, Tesco
Champagne André Roger Brut Traditional Grand Cru NV
An absolutely top-notch Grand Cru champagne from this relatively small producer, still in the same family hands and made from mainly Pinot grapes with a small amount of Chardonnay. This is a big, rich and powerful fizz, with a generously fruity nose and a really mouth-filling taste of yeast and apricots, with an interestingly spicy finish. A traditional champagne for a traditional smoked-salmon starter. £35.55, jascots.co.uk
1+1=3 Cava Brut Rosé Seleccio
Oddly named, but there is nothing odd about this cava from Penedés near Barcelona, made from the local Trepat grape, with additional Garnacha and Pinot Noir. Packed with boisterous aromas and tastes of strawberry, raspberry and cherry, this is terrific as an aperitif when the days get warmer and also a good wine for sweeter dishes, particularly those involving chocolate. £11.99, champagnewarehouse.com
Gascogne Rosé Cuvée Spéciale 2010
Let us hope for some warm spring days for eating outdoors and this refreshing, moreish, crisp, spicily finished and decently priced rosé, from the esteemed Plaimont co-operative in south-west France, would be the perfect versatile accompaniment to everything from salads to mezze-style foods. £5.99, M&S
Els Pyreneus Maury Grenat 2009
This sort of sweet, lightly fortified vin doux naturel red is much more commonplace in France as either an aperitif or to accompany fruit-based puddings of all kinds. From the town of Maury, close to the Pyrenees, the Grenache grapes deliver intense flavours of dark cherries, plums and cassis. But this is relatively light and elegant on the palate and so perfect for spring consumption. £11.66, nezzar.com
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