Wines, words, vine-clad landscapes … MARY DOWEY unpacks her most considered summer essentials …
Keep it simple is my summer mantra. In the wardrobe, a pretty dress or two, cropped trousers, T-shirts, espadrilles. In the kitchen, a few easy recipes for colourful, zesty dishes. Why not take the same approach for wine?
Rather than bombard you with possibilities, here come my pared-down suggestions. Three wine styles that taste more delicious now than at any other time of year. One brilliant book to curl up with at siesta time. One enticing place to stay.
DRINK Chablis has always been Ireland’s favourite white Burgundy. Although it often appears on the Christmas table (it’s a cracking match for oysters) I think it makes a better summer treat. The lemony crispness that can seem austere in cold weather becomes refreshing when the sun shines. Few wines taste more exquisite with poached salmon – or Chaource cheese, a glorious, unctuous match.
Beaujolais is back in favour, rescued from its cheap, nouveau image by a band of dedicated producers who are proving its worth as a serious wine. About time! A recent tasting of Beaujolais crus (there are ten sub-regions or appellations) showed just how exciting the wines have become, combining juicy charm with some firmness and depth. Serve slightly cool with cold meats or barbecued sausages and roast veg.
Lambrusco – remember that? Maybe not. The sparkling Italian red that was a mass-market hit of questionable quality back in the 1980s has barely been mentioned for decades. Now, as the trend towards authentic wines made in the old-fashioned way gathers force, we’re seeing some lipsmacking artisan examples. Enjoy cool with creamy pasta or pork.
READ The most mesmerising book I’ve read in ages is Nina Caplan’s The Wandering Vine – Wine, the Romans and Me. It’s an eccentric travelogue – a journey through Europe which ingeniously connects some of today’s most colourful producers with the story of wine in Roman times while also incorporating slivers of Caplan’s Jewish family history. Original, beautifully written, erudite without being heavy-handed and moving in the way it captures wine’s ability to evoke memories … No wonder this was named Louis Roederer Wine Book of the Year 2018 and Fortnum & Mason Debut Drink Books of the Year 2019. Bloomsbury, £9.99.
RELAX The vineyard adventures of Caro and Sean Feely, a determined couple who swapped prestigious jobs in Dublin for a run-down château in south-west France, have featured in three books I’ve previously recommended as summer reads. Now you have good reason to visit their vastly upgraded property producing fine biodynamic wines. Château Feely recently won a gold trophy in France’s first national wine tourism competition, beating top vineyards all over the country. To celebrate, the Feelys are offering guests who book a 2019 stay in their delightful accommodation a ten per cent discount. www.chateaufeely.com
3 wines to try
La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Grande Cuvée 2016. Simply glorious. Mouthfilling richness and purity of flavour with the essential citrus thrust of classic Chablis. Alcohol: 13%. From Martins, Dublin 3; McHughs, Dublin 5; Mortons, Dublin 6; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Cashel Wine Cellar, Cashel; World Wide Wines, Waterford, usually €34.95.
Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon La Voute Saint-Vincent 2017. Lighter in style than some Morgons but still a wine of substance, this is a perfumed, juicy, energetic charmer. Alcohol: 12.5%. From Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6W; Drink Store, Dublin 7; 64 Wine, Glasthule; La Touche, Greystones, about €24.
Podere Cipolla Ponente 270 Lambrusco dell’Emilia 2017. Made by small-scale producer Denny Bini from organically grown grapes fermented in bottle with no added yeast or sugar, this is the real deal – fresh, gutsy, bone dry and moreish. Alcohol: 12%. At Sheridans Cheesemongers and www.siyps.com, about €21.50.
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