Self-isolation has robbed us of many of life’s luxuries, but one area where we can still enjoy a moment of relaxation is in our evening tipple.
We spoke to Fortnum & Mason’s wine and spirit buyer, Jamie Waugh, for his tips on three reds and three whites to get you through lockdown. Heck, it’s the closest we’re going to get to France for a while…
Three whites to drink in lockdown:
Fortnum’s Cremant d’Alsace, Bruno Sorg NV
When we wanted to choose a new sparkling we pulled in 25 sparkling wines from around France, five of which were from Alsace. And after our blind tasting, four of our top five were from Alsace so we knew we were on to something.
In fact Cremant d’Alsace now accounts for 30 per cent of the region’s production and is rapidly becoming the region’s most in demand wine style.
The grapes used (Chardonnay Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc) are slightly riper than Champagne, hence the fruit has more of an orchard apple character. But it still has the delicious freshness on the finish. Serve on its own or with smoked salmon and salted almonds. £19.50
Fortnum’s Muscadet Sur Lie, Domaine Luneau Papin
If I am stuck on what to choose I often buy Muscadet. It is often relatively inexpensive – I think under-priced – and the flinty lemon fruited character is reminiscent of Chablis without the weight.
Our Muscadet has a tangy, almost salty character gleaned from the vineyards being buffeted from the Atlantic sea breezes. This, balanced with naturally high acidity, means that it provides a great match for seafood. £11.50
Fortnum’s Sancerre Blanc, Andre Dezat
Again another white wine from the Loire, but this lengthy region that covers north western and central France makes wonderful white wine on account of the fresh zesty flavours and natural bright acidity that the cool climate promotes.
Sancerre is certainly not an original choice, but in these unsettled times, classics always find custom.
Our Sancerre is produced by one of the region’s undoubted stars, Andre Dezat, and it is deliciously understated with clean tropical fruit, and the hint of gunflint on the finish that makes Sauvignon Blanc from this appellation so sought after. £18.50
Three reds to drink in lockdown:
Fortnum’s Côtes du Rhône, Bunuel
This has been our top selling wine for many a year, and not just because of the price. The wines of the sun soaked southern Rhône have the approachability of wines from the new world with the rich fruit, but with the structure and juicy freshness of the old world to provide balance. Delicious on its own or with roast meats. £10.50
Fortnum’s Crozes Hermitages Rouge, Domaine Fayolle 2017
I love Syrah from the northern Rhône, and I think that – after all the hype over red Burgundy – the northern Rhône is the French region that is generating most excitement at the moment.
The red wines are that good. Fortunately Crozes Hermitages does not carry the lofty prices of Côte Rôtie or Hermitage – which are also from the northern Rhône – yet the wines are equally thirst inducing and quenching.
The F&M Crozes is made by Laurent Fayolle, who is gaining more accolades with every vintage from his 12 ha estate. It is supremely elegant, with black cherry fruit, peppery spice with a tremendous depth of flavour that will work with any duck, chicken, lamb you pair with it. £19.50
F&M Single Vineyard Mendoza Malbec, Pulenta 2013
Elegant, rich and poised, this single vineyard Malbec from the Mendoza, is exclusive to Fortnum’s with just 2400 bottles bottled. It is produced by Pulenta and is an outstanding example of Argentina’s most prized grape variety, with 6 years bottle age. It has ripe red and black currant fruit on the palate with a fresh mineral edge harnessed from being sourced at 980 metres above sea level. Food pairing: beef is the classic pairing, but great also with duck and lamb. £28.50
Fortnum’s are delivering both domestically and globally from their website.