Well, it’s April, we’re still in Lockdown, and one of the few things to get excited about is what we might be drinking over the Easter weekend. It sometimes seems that the exploring and planning of wines, and what to eat with them, is almost more exciting than the actual drinking… I reckon that’s largely due to the missing piece – the connection. It’s been long, this abstinence, the empty space of where we used to get together with like-minded people, to eat and to share a bottle, to chat about the wine, arguing for and against it and eventually opening another, just to cement the argument. Now, we do it in work on a Tuesday morning – what used to be “how was your weekend?” has become “what did you open in the end?”, followed by “and what did you eat with it?”. We’re living vicariously through travel to the dining tables of others. Hopefully, we can reconnect with temporarily lost ones soon – a different perspective would be stimulating and what a thrill to eat food that somebody else cooks! I often find myself wondering if I ever properly thanked the people who have cooked for me – I don’t think I realised just how much life inspiration I took from those times…
So we’re giving you a peek into the GMW Easter weekend, with a look at the wines we’ll be drinking (they’ll be on display in-store). I love setting these challenges for the team – you’d be amazed how much thought goes into the choice, when asked to recommend just one bottle! Luke took home various bottles over the last few weeks to finalise his pick and Saileog has been having deep discussions with Liam on bang for buck options. Me, I like to be transported… and I’ve been re-reading The New Vignerons (Spain) by Luis Gutierrez. I sink into the photos that show the immensity of blue sky, the cosiness of rustic meals and the stories of the wine makers, utterly passionate about what they do. How easy it used to be to plan a trip to Spanish wine regions, just a little over a year ago. Whether it happened or not, you could plan a dream escape – who knew even our dreams could be taken away? For now though, I can close my eyes and take consolation in the taste of those mountain vineyards. Read about my vinous choice for Easter and to find out what all of the GMW Gang will be drinking…
Stay safe, eat chocolate and drink wine!
Bryce’s Choice – Uivo Pet Nat Rosé, Pinot Noir Bruto, Portugal 2020
I won’t rest until I’ve explored the entire Rosé selection at Green Man! It’s my Easter offering to the people of Terenure. This sings of Spring – it’s delicious, it’s rosé and it’s a brilliant aperitif option over Easter and the perfect garden drink if the sun shines over the weekend. I serve this chilled, with some smoked almonds, while the leg of lamb is roasting in the oven. It’s just easy and so delicious!
Luke’s Choice – Champagne, Chardonnay (Blanc de Blancs), Antoine Bouvet NV
I’ve had the pleasure of having this wine five or six times and each time it gets better and better. Last Saturday evening, when we opened this, it had settled into its oak nicely and developed into a wonderfully classy affair. A dinner and a show! Initially savoury on the nose with notes of fennel and char, evolving into roasted pears and forbidden golden orchard apples, elegantly rich and finessed on the palate with lip-smacking mineral refreshment, all squared off in a toasted maple and chestnut frame. Silky business. This wine needs no back-up dancers, fantastic in the morning or at the end of the night, pair this with some Gruyère on toast and you’ve got yourself a special Easter moment. A fine wine with bubbles – only 600 odd bottles made, low dosage so “extra brut” in style and 100% Chardonnay.
Liam’s Choice – Bourgogne Aligoté, Smith-Chapel, 2019
Our April mission is to Make Aligoté Great Again (or, as Luke coined it, M.A.G.A. , though in a more palatable form!) And, as Jancis Robinson said in an article a few weeks ago, this is “an Aligoté to change your mind about this grape”. Aligoté used to be very much the lesser grape of Burgundy, producing thin and acidic wines, and whilst it’s not at the heights of Chardonnay in Burgundy, the warmer climate of the past 15-20 years has transformed its expression. What’s different about this wine, compared to the others that I’ve tasted, is that it’s made from organic Mâconnais fruit, giving it a richer profile, from this warmer area of Burgundy. There’s racy acidity but the fruit is different, riper, more on a stone fruit spectrum of peaches with a touch of herbs. Whole bunch pressed, fermented with native yeasts and 7 months on the lees, in stainless steel tanks. Seafood starters would be perfect with this wine- I’ll be having smoked salmon – but a prawn cocktail would work equally well. It’s incredibly versatile, thanks to the acidity, and I’ll no doubt be opening a second bottle! https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/smith-chapel-2019-bourgogne-aligote
Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia, friends since college, are two of the most exciting young wine makers in Spain at the moment. Obsessed with Garnacha and with the expression of terroir, as it’s done in Burgundy, they have developed a range of superbly elegant, fine wines under the Comando G label. This “villages” Garnacha is made from fruit sourced from several vineyards near “Las Rozas de Puerto Real” , with a terroir that’s predominantly granitic sand. It is perfumed and lively, with open, vibrant fruit and a fine tannin structure. I love the finesse of this wine and it would be lovely with the traditional lamb, cooked with rosemary and garlic. I’m going to be making succulent lamb shanks, with an Eastern twist, based on an hour spent thumbing through Nori by Yottam Ottolenghi at the weekend.
Saileog’s Choice – Le Puy, Emilien, Famille Amoreau, France 2017
A Bordeaux for Easter, without the official label, as the family opted out of the Bordeaux classification, preferring to pave their own way and stand over their wines as an independent family estate. The wine is named “Emilien”, a tongue-in-cheek reference to St Emilion, which sits on the same limestone plateau as the Le Puy estate. However the Amoreau family have all the Bordeaux credentials – making wine in the region since 1610, using classic Bordeaux grapes (largely Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon), native yeast fermentation, no fining or filtration- these are beautifully pure and expressive wines. Without the stamp of new oak barrels, the fruit is allowed to shine and the wine is full and satisfying with loads of dark, plummy fruits. It’s a classic and brilliant wine to pair with the traditional rack of lamb, with a herby crust and all the trimmings… at least, that’s what I’ll be cooking this Easter!
David’s Choice – Quinta Milú, La Cometa ,Ribera del Duero, Spain 2018
Ribera del Duero used to be best known for big wines and big oak influence, which has never been a preferred style of the team here. However, the wines from Germán Blanco at Quinta Milú, are much more refined and elegant in style and he tames the power of Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) into wines of finesse and elegance. Germán works with very old vineyards (60+years), many of which are high altitude (900 metres above sea level) and he employs traditional techniques and minimal intervention. I was fortunate enough to visit the winery a few years ago and a lasting memory is the experience of La Cometa, with the young, mountain lamb that had been roasted over vine cuttings… sublime. This Easter, I’ll be doing something similar, minus the vine cuttings, but a roasted rack of lamb with garlic, rosemary and anchovies, paired with this digestible and delicious all-rounder, will be close enough.