Bermondsey-based wine consultant Robert Giorgione suggests Mediterranean wines to accompany the flavours of spring
When I think of spring, I think of freshness, verdant pastures, blossom and the return of a little get-up-and-go. It is also a time for the simple, fresh flavours of mackerel, bream, sea bass, lamb, veal and guinea fowl, all of them accompanied by piles of fresh spring vegetables: asparagus, artichokes, baby spinach, chard, radishes. The wines I seek to match these fantastic ingredients often have a Mediterranean twist, produced in places with strong maritime influences— wines that remind me of cool sea breezes, green grass and a little bit of sunshine.
Penedes in Catalonia, northern Spain, is a region famous for the production of Cava. Just north of Barcelona, it is very close to the sea and has a beautiful, green countryside dotted with small vineyards. Try the 2009 “Privat Nu” Cava (£25, Bedales)—clean, fresh and vibrant, with a delicious, crunchy apple flavour and mouth-watering acidity. It is the perfect aperitif to get any dinner party going. Even though the wine is a Cava, it is made more in a Champagne style, similar to a Blanc de Blancs. The addition of Chardonnay provides structure and vinosity to the indigenous Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-Lo grape varieties.
Speaking of interesting whites with great potential, try the 2010 “Erumir”— a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo and Riesling (£15, Bedales). I was really impressed with its exuberant, aromatic freshness. If you like New World wines, such as Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, then you will adore its herbaceous, citrus blossom aroma—perfect with a plate of seafood and marinated vegetables or the local Catalan delicacy of calcots—a kind of baby leek or large spring onion— cooked a la plancha with romesco sauce.
Just over the border in France, we find the up-and-coming appellations of Languedoc. I would recommend the crisp, dry 2010 Le Lesc Blanc, Vin du Pays du Gers (£8.50), the floral-scented 2010 La Vieille Capitelle Viognier (£11) and the juicy, gluggable red Domaine Clavel “Vega” Merlot, Vin de Pays d’Oc (£9.99), all available at Cartwright Brothers. Next door at Borough Wines, I would suggest the 2007 Jurancon Sec from Chateau de Jurque (£14) and a young and fruity Pinot Noir from Domaine Grezan, Pays d’Oc, which would be perfect with spring lamb. There is great value here in these lesser- known French wine regions.
Pecorino is an Italian cheese, but it is also the name of a wine, which locals say is at its best when drunk with cheese. There are two styles available at Bedales. 2010 Pecorino, Colline Teatine (£15) is fresh and vibrant with lovely stone fruit flavours. The 2010 Pecorino Colle Vecchio “Il Feuduccio” (£22) is more complex and is produced from older vines, with a lick of oak in a more authentic style.
For something more quirky, I would suggest the “Vin d’Ange” white at Bedales and the very aromatic 2006 Matosevic “Alba Robinia” barrique-aged Malvazija Istarska from Croatia £22.50 at Cartwright Brothers. Or, stretching the maritime theme to our own slightly colder coastline, you could kick back and relax with some English Elderflower Wine from Lyme Bay Winery in Axminster, Devon (£9.99, Cartwright Brothers)— you could almost be at the seaside!