Having written some time ago on a selection of my own favourites, wines that perhaps struggle to get into the limelight but which more than justify their listing on simple quality grounds, I thought I’d produce a new set.
Looking back on my choices, written last week, I’m struck that each of the wines is linked by an absence of ‘seriousness’. Some wines demand an almost academic approach which seems fine when it’s cool. However, come the summer I much prefer wines which know their place – as a pleasurable add on to al fresco picnics and barbecues rather than as the main event.
None of the wines I’ve chosen demands attention. Rather, each is happy to sit in the corner, being noticed only once in a while, but when it is adding imperceptibly to the pleasure of an event.
My colleague Richard wrote a while ago about recalibrating our appreciation for Northern Italian white, and I was reminded of it reading the Guardian on Saturday. Victoria Moore is spot on I think in talking about the taste (or lack of it) for neutral, crisp white wine, but increasingly there is a genuine demand for much more flavoursome products from the more interesting local grape varieties across Europe. I can heartily recommend the choice she made from our range too, Inama Soave.
Finally… a by the case recommendation
I’m off to Spain on holiday later in the week (and while I’m there will drink only cheap and cheerful wine – see comments on lack of seriousness above). However, I can’t resist a final recommendation before I go.
This years 2007 en primeur Bordeaux campaign was very muted, owing in part to the weak vintage but also to the ‘adventurous’ pricing of some chateaux. I have to say that if I was to buy a case of wine this month for laying down, it may well be this – Muga Rioja Seleccion Especial 2004. The 2004 vintage was brilliant in Northern Spain, and I have a huge amount of time for the handmade wines from the Muga brothers. Everything is vinfied and aged in large oak vessels which are painstakingly built on-site and designed to have 100 years of use. The wines themselves are clarified the traditional way by hand using egg-white, and the wines themselves age effortlessly for many years.
This, I promise you, is a serious wine at the less than serious price. Drink it now by all means (or buy 18 bottles, drink six, and save the other 12 for as long as you can contain yourself). The style bridges old-fashioned Rioja and claret, and provides fantastic complexity coupled with a sense of history.