To celebrate the imminent arrival of autumn, this week the Times’ wine writer James Viner lines up the finest viticultural offerings to pair with fish, seafood and meat which are at their very best in September. But first up is the perfect tipple to enjoy with this week’s aromatic apple dishes …
Tipple Tip for fans of Posh Cider
Hush Heath Estate Sparkling English Apple Wine NV, Kent (£15-£17.50, Hush Heath, Neighbourly Grape, Butler’s Wine cellar)
Hush Heath Estate is one of England’s top premium wine producers and also a hospitality business born out of the winery in Staplehurst, Kent. The 400-acre estate is open to visitors seven days a week and walk-in tastings are complimentary and include three samples of award-winning wines and ciders. The vineyards and orchards are very pretty at this busy time of year. This tasty sparkling apple wine is made from 100% Cox, Bramley and Egremont Russet apples, all grown and hand-picked at Hush Heath Estate. The two experienced winemakers have followed the Traditional Method, fermenting the juice in stainless steel tanks, using Champagne yeasts for the secondary fermentation in the bottle to produce a deliciously crisp and refined apple wine with a lingering, creamy finish. Sure to appeal to fans of Prosecco who seek a lower-alcohol wine (8% abv). Also don’t miss out on the supremely good Balfour Brut Rosé 2013.
Must-try Consummate White Bargain for Seasonal Fish & Seafood
2015 Exquisite Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, France (£4.99, Aldi)
The best-quality Muscadet, a supremely thirst-quenching and invigorating light-bodied, bone dry white made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape grown around the mouth of the river Loire, is always taken straight off the lees without racking, hence the name ‘Muscadet sur lie,’ with resultantly supplementary flavour and texture. This is the finest version under £8 I have tasted this year: tangy, charismatic with bracing lissom crispness and delicious green melon and pear flavours. Drink it with a platter of seasonal raw oysters or mussels (it’s divine with moules marinières cooked in a white wine sauce), sushi, prawn curries, shellfish, fish pie, fish with beurre blanc or mackerel. A breezy wine from a lovely ripe vintage and excellent value. Take a bow, Aldi. Free standard delivery when ordering online as well!
Ravishing Red for a late-summer BBQ Feast & Wild Game
2014 KWV ‘The Mentors’ Petit Verdot, South Africa (£14.95, Ocado, Slurp, SH Jones)
KWV was previously South Africa’s national wine co-op and controlling body. This compelling wine from their multi-award winning top-tier ‘Mentors’ range was so seductive at a recent trade tasting that it pained me to spit it out, but that I had to do! Heroic, vivacious, full-bodied and spicy, it has it all – and there is no suggestion of the burnt rubber tang which continues to afflict some South African reds. In its place the fruit is sensational. This is an Aladdin’s Cave of floral and herbal aromas and flavours, each having its say and then ultimately uniting in the jubilantly juicy black and blue fruits of the full-bodied palate. It’s framed by a multifaceted chord of sleek, savoury tannins and in-check oak, reflecting the extreme skills of winemaker Wim Truter. It would complement to perfection seasonal wild game dishes, especially venison pot roast, pan-seared venison chops, venison steak Diane, duck, roast rack of lamb or veal and end-of-season BBQs, beef stew and grilled steak. Grab this velvety, impeccably deep red premium wine and indulge in its scrumptious Cape opulence.
Sybaritic, Gastronomic Bubbly for Seasonal Meat & Seafood
2008 Veuve Clicquot Vintage Champagne, France (£45-£49.49, Tesco, Majestic)
Looking for something as a real treat? 2008 was one of the best two champagne vintages of the first decade of the 21st century. This is a very stylish, mellow and broadly-flavoured vintage bubbly with notes of smoke, toast, roasted fruit, nutty oak, peach blossom and spice, culminating in a long finish. It’s seriously seductive with layer upon layer of complexity, a top-notch gourmet wine with enough character and élan to cope enchantingly with seasonal game-bird/fish dishes, especially duck, venison, plain grilled Dover sole, poached turbot, bass tartare, monkfish, black cod with miso sauce, richly-sauced/steamed lobster, oysters, mushrooms in a creamy pasta sauce, cold partridge and seared scallops. An exquisitely sculpted wine: please yourself whether you drink it now or 10 years hence. Class act.
Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine