The latest updates the UK's leading mixed case wine merchant

by Lauren Hodgkins
Manager of Majestic Wine Bristol

One of the things we Brits do exceptionally well is the traditional Sunday roast. I don’t know about you, but in my family sitting down to enjoy this magnificent meal together is something we all look forward to. So how do you pick the perfect wine to match this most important of lunches?

I suggest we turn our attentions to the wines of Iberia. Spain and Portugal may be geographical neighbours, but their wine styles could not be more different. What both countries do have in common, however, is value for money, ever more quality and above all versatility with food. Here are a few of my favourite matches to get your mouth watering.

Spain

Let’s start with the stunning ‘El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa’ Old Vine Garnacha 2009 from Navarra. 70-yearold vines give low yields of deliciously concentrated Grenache grapes, which are blended expertly to give a complex flavour of ripe black fruit, plums and sweet spice. There’s also an elegant streak of acidity and gentle oak, making it an excellent partner for roast loin of pork with crispy crackling and a herby stuffing.

From one of Spain’s oldest and most prestigious Bodegas, CVNE, comes this Rioja Crianza 2008. It’s a young, fresh style of Rioja with lively summer fruit and crisp acidity balanced perfectly by vanilla notes from a year in oak. Great with pan-fried duck breast served with a rich cherry sauce. Yummy!

One of my absolute favourite food and wine matches is Rioja Gran Reserva and slow-roasted lamb with rosemary and garlic. Try the Bodegas Muriel Rioja Gran Reserva for subtle yet deep mature-fruit and tobacco-leaf flavours that match the intensity of the lamb exactly. The mellow tannins soften with the protein in the meat for a classic match at a tremendous price.

One of our recent additions, Rioja Reserva ‘Dos Maderas’ 2006 from Beronia, is aged in barrels made from both French and American oaks (hence ‘Dos Maderas’). This gives the wine a silky texture and flavours of vanilla, cinnamon, soft leather and cedar. A very traditional Rioja and absolute perfection with a rich, flavoursome Lancashire hotpot.

‘El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa’ Old Vine Garnacha 2009, Navarra
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Rioja Crianza 2008, CVNE
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Rioja Gran Reserva 2001/04, Bodegas Muriel
£13.99 or £10.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Rioja Reserva ‘Dos Maderas’ 2006, Beronia
£13.99 or £10.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Portugal

We’re seeing more and more variety and quality in Portuguese wines. Of particular note are the indigenous grapes from the region traditionally associated with Port, the Douro, which are now being used to make some superb table wines.

The first of these is Planalto White Reserva 2010, a Vinho Branco seco made from indigenous Douro white grapes. Modern winemaking techniques are used to create a wine of great quality that preserves the aromatics and fruit character. It’s deliciously dry and crisp with citrus fruit, pear and apple blossom characters that work beautifully with the earthy flavours of whole baked trout and the aromatic aniseed of poached fennel.

Tuella Tinto 2009 from the upper Douro is a fantastic example of a dry, light wine made from Port grapes such as Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. Its flavours are similar to a Ruby Port: dark fruits, plum jam and an unmistakable earthy finish. Pairs beautifully with a caramelised red onion and goats’ cheese tart – think Port and cheese with red onion chutney!

The Ramos Reserva 2010 from Alentejo blends indigenous Trincadeira and Aragonez grapes with a dash of Syrah. It’s made in the most traditional way – they still press underfoot in marble lagares – for a triumphant coming together of the traditional and the modern. Rich and robust with upfront red berry flavours and violet tannins, this is simply delicious next to a slowcooked steak and mushroom stew with herb and stilton dumplings.

Finally, as a Yorkshire girl I can’t possibly write about Sunday lunch without mentioning the noble roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, served with crispy roasties and a dollop of English mustard. All of this demands a bold, intensely fruity red with firm tannins, so my mind would normally race straight to Bordeaux’s right bank. But wait… what’s this? New to our range is Quinta Da Bacalhôa 2008, made with Cabernet Sauvignon grown in limestone-rich soils on the slopes of Azeitao. It’s bursting with blackcurrant and bramble fruit, plus clove and cedar spice. Its tannins are firm yet silky. Sorry Bordeaux, I may have been converted!

Planalto White Reserva 2010, Douro
£7.49 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Tuella Tinto 2009, Douro
£7.99 or £6.49 when you buy 2 bottles

Ramos Reserva 2010, Alentejo
£8.49 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Quinta da Bacalhôa 2008, DO Peninsula de Setúbal New!
£13.49 or £11.99 when you buy 2 bottles