I don’t imagine that many MidWeekers will have been on the grouse moors for the “Glorious Twelfth” but that early August date does have further significance for wine drinkers.
The start of the shooting season inevitably coincides with the re-emergence of red wines from the summer equivalent of hibernation.
What else can provide a suitable partner for the game dishes that start to grace meal tables from this time of year onwards?
While mature Burgundy is often promoted as the traditional wine for this season, I was pleased to see the illustrious Berry Bros & Rudd declaring that “Red Rhône wines are the best overall match with game birds”.
Rhȏne wines' natural partnership with food was illustrated by an initiative this summer to create Côtes du Rhône wine and supper-boxes to enjoy at home.
Before I get to the details of that, let’s look at the entry point end of the Rhȏne wine market with three wines from Majestic and from one of the region’s specialists – Jaboulet.
The selected reds in particular will work also well with other substantial meat dishes
First an organic option.
This is a grenache and syrah blend that I believe scored highly in a Decanter review and which is named after the degree of latitude close to the Jaboulet winery.
Soft and warm, 2018 Jaboulet Parallel 45 Organic Cote de Rhone (from £10.99 at Majestic and 14% abv.) has light loganberry and cherry flavours, firm orange acidity, gentle tannin and a background of clove and aniseed with just a hint of sweetness.
Game of two halves
While the Southern Rhône is the land of brilliant blends (notably using grenache, syrah and mourvedre), red Northern Rhônes are almost exclusively made from syrah alone.
Syrah does wonders with game so our next wine is made just from that variety but because it bears the Vin De France classification (which is relatively liberal about geographic sources) we don’t know for sure it is from north of the great divide.
Wherever it is from, 2017 Jaboulet Syrah (from £8.99 at Majestic and 13%) is terrific wine delivering minty plum and blackberry flavours supported nicely by good acidity, soft tannin, suggestions of vanilla and chocolate plus, of course, that extra smoothness from a further year’s maturation.
Don’t forget the Whites
Anyone seeing that sub-heading will expect this commendation to be about marsanne, roussanne or a blend of both.
Fantastic as some of those whites are, I was completely bowled over by this viognier – a variety that has strayed far and wide from its spiritual home in Condrieu but still makes superb wine in the Rhône.
Savour then the fragrant and floral 2019 Jaboulet Viognier (from £9.99 at Majestic and 13.5%) with its viscous melon and – especially – peach flavours, spicy edge but muted lime and tangerine acidity.
Now for that supper box
As you can see from the menu, the food provided was both typical and varied and the wines all worked very successfully.
Since red wine is not always the best companion for cheese, I decided to partner the listed cheeses with the rose – made by another stellar Rhône name – Chapoutier.
Clean, pale and aromatic 2019 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rosé (www.thedrinkshop.com has the 2018 around £11 – and its abv is 13.5%) leads with raspberry and red cherry flavours embellished with lively grapefruit style acidity but containing some welcome savoury bite that also incorporates a touch of nutmeg.
Moving to the reds
While the basic Côtes du Rhône appellation is one of the world’s largest, with around 170 communes, the next level up the hierarchy (Côtes du Rhône Villages) includes only 95 communes.
For an excellent “Villages”, try 2018 Le Plan – Vermeersch Suze la Rousse RS (Contact www.carringtonswines.co.uk; its abv is13%) with its concentrated blackcurrant and blackberry flavours (from a blend of syrah and mourvedre), good acidity, modest tannin and depth containing herbal and mocha elements.
And one level higher
Of the 95 communes within the “Villages” appellation, a mere 18 of them are allowed to add their name as with this Côtes du Rhône Villages Visan wine – from a spot roughly equidistant from Montélimar and Orange but east of them both.
Dark and textured, 2018 Gloire de Mon Pere Vincent Boyer (contact firstname.lastname@example.org; its abv is 14%) is centred on mulberry and dark plum fruit (from a grenache led blend this time) supported by good acidity, firm tannin and meaty, clove influenced texture.
Both of those reds worked well with the saucisson and the duck liver paté to create a memorable supper box with some exceptional wines to support it.
Tune in again on Monday for our regular view of what current supermarket promotions contain and, of course, my latest Top Tips.
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