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Wine for St Valentine

Next Friday is St Valentine’s Day so today’s post is all about wine to drink on that traditionally romantic day.

Rather quaintly, my mother always called 14 February “the birds’ wedding day” – to her generation, it was only alphabetically that nesting could precede nuptials! 

The saint himself goes back much further than even largely outdated views like hers.

Saint Valentine was a Roman priest executed over 1800 years ago who would be as mystified as I am about how his name came to be linked with drinking substantial quantities of pink wine.

Enough history though, let’s look at some wines.

Whatever form your own celebration takes, one or more of these selections should suit the occasion.

Shall we start with Fizz?

Essential mood music for romantic occasions is surely the pop of sparkling wine corks.

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé (£50 – instead of £60 until 2 March – at M&S and 12%)

If your celebration is a special one, then splash out a bit on this delightfully mellow champagne with strawberry, cherry and raspberry fruit, a good mousse and neat herbal touches in the background.

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

Hard-nosed MidWeekers will note that this is currently on offer but obviously (I hope) don’t shatter the romantic atmosphere by saying so!

Les Pionniers Rosé Champagne (£20 – down from £22 until 18 February – at the Co-op and 12%)

Significantly less expensive but a very respectable bottle indeed is this pinot noir led Co-op exclusive pink champagne, which is from the same stable (and almost as good as) as their fantastic Pionniers Brut.

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

Note the nicely balanced strawberry and red cherry fruit on display here which is enlivened by good acidity and complemented by savoury – almost brioche – depth.

Freixenet Ice Rosé (currently £9 – instead of £11 – at Asda and 12%)

If you just want to add a modicum of sparkle to the day and are fans of prosecco, give this cava a try – although Spanish wine purists should look away now!

Presumably to grab a slice of the prosecco market, this has more residual sugar than much cava but is designed to go “on the rocks” and those ice cubes do take the edge off that sweetness.

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

Instead, the emphasis goes on its attractive, floral raspberry and mandarin fruit and good acidity to provide straight forward, unpretentious sparkling wine.

Remember though, Asda’s “Rollback” price reductions like this one often end suddenly.

2019 Santa Julia Plus Malbec Rosé (£7.50 – instead of £9 until 16 February – at Sainsbury’s and 13.5%)

For a conventional (non-sparkling rosé) seek out this malbec based version from Mendoza which, for me, is seriously good for the money.

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

Light coloured and floral, it has soft red cherry and cranberry fruit coupled with bold grapefruit acidity and suggestions of clove and rhubarb.

2018 Estandon Lumiére (£9 at Asda and 12.5%)

Meanwhile, Europe’s rosé capital must, surely, be somewhere in Provence where winemakers are skilled at securing the most delicate flavours and colour for their wine (notice, incidentally, how rosés on retailers’ shelves are getting paler and paler in colour).

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

Light in colour of course – and with aromas and flavours that open slowly, this guy has fine-spun cherry fruit with good acidity that leads into a long finish containing hints of savoury spices. 

To find background details to rosé and a helpful guide on the different ways of making it, follow this link to simply expressed explanation.

2018 Exquisite Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (£5.89 at Aldi and 12.5%)

If you want nothing to do with this rosé fad but still want a subtle yet tasty wine for the day, here is an excellent Loire sauvignon from a less fashionable area than Sancerre – a fact which, happily, is reflected in its price.

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

I really enjoy the soft, classy, apple and lime fruit on display here especially as it is nicely supported by sherbet acidity with grassy, green pepper touches yet is significantly less assertive than New Zealand versions of the grape variety.

2018 Tesco Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir (£13 at Tesco and 13.5%)

For a red wine option that will grace any special occasion, I recommend this award winning (Gold at IWC) New Zealand pinot noir made by Villa Maria that (pound for pound) compares very favourably with Burgundian pinot noir.

Here is a link to the retailer’s website

Pale in colour, it has juicy raspberry and pomegranate fruit with good acidity but little tannin and a smooth chocolate and nutmeg background containing those earthy notes that pinot does so well. 

Be back on Friday, folks with suggestions about a couple of wines that provide tasty yet modestly priced weekend drinking


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Comments

6 Comments

Derrik Smith

Brian
Seeing the mind-bending Rasteau 2016 on offer at Lidls for a very reasonable £6.99 a bottle.
Label says Parker rating 92 pts. Not sure if this is true…but the wine is very good…
Comments??

Alan Burrell

Hi Derrik, Either the staff in your local Lidl or in mine have got this Rasteau priced wrongly.
My local in Thetford has it at £10.99 / bottle.

Brian Elliott

Thanks guys for picking this up. I will check with Lidl to see what the situation is. I believe there was a promotion in Scotland on this wine (which I have not sampled btw) that ended yesterday but will find out more

Brian Elliott

On this subject, a Scottish subscriber tells me “It does carry a 92 rating from Mr P on the bottle and was, up until last night, £6.99 a bottle. Yours truly picked up a case at the weekend as it is most enjoyable, in one’s humble opinion of course. The fact it pushes at 15% for me is an added bonus but this is not overpowering on the palate”
Minimum unit pricing and a ban on multi-buys in Scotland mean prices may differ between England and Scotland so, to be fair to customers north of the border, Lidl do sometimes run different promotions there – this seems to be one of them.

Alan Burrell

Thanks Brian, bought a couple of bottles of the Rasteau locally anyway out of interest, although Lidl only give it 88!! and what does Robert Parker know anyway.
It’s a long drive to Scotland to save 4 quid a bottle especially as offer already ended! Got me into Lidl though, don’t usually bother with the 25 mile round trip but may make more of an effort in future given your recommendations from latest wine tour and after having seen some other interesting options in store as well.
Hopefully there will be some more decent promos south of the border soon.
KR Alan

Brian Elliott

I hope it lives up to expectation!- although I believe that Parker no longer features it. The three MW’s that allocate Lidl’s rankings are usually pretty fair but I sometimes feel they can be a bit niggardly on cheaper wines.
A UK wide one-week Lidl promotion will be featured in next Monday’s post but it may not be exactly what you are looking for.
Some of their core range can be excellent but do look out for recommendations – as others can be off the pace to my taste.


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