The Bath & Wiltshire Parent’s wine columnist, Ben Franks FRSA, from local business Novel Wines, shares his choice of wines to enjoy when the sun shines
Fancy a little taste of holiday?
I’ve chosen four wines to give you a little taste of sunshine while we’re all still in lockdown. The glimmer of sunlight over the weekend got me thinking about holidays and, let’s be honest, a cool glass of white with your feet up in the Mediterranean sunshine sounds pretty idyllic right now.
While we can’t go jet-setting, a little English sunshine with a glass of delicious wine in the garden isn’t a bad compromise. Whiling away the hours with a rare bottle of Chateau Oumsiyat Cuvee Membliarus Assyrtico (£11.79, Novel Wines) from Lebanon is bound to put a smile on your face. Grown 1,000m above sea level in the skies of the Beqaa Valley, winemaker Joseph Bou Sleiman is continuing his family’s long tradition of winemaking with a deep passion for quality.
His vines sit in a unique part of the valley, between Mt Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, in perfect conditions for Mediterranean-style wine. By this we’re talking intense fruit with bags of citrus, white peach, passion fruit and melon, which round out into gentle spice and a juicy, flinty finish. Exceptionally tasty with some goat’s cheese or a hearty pasta bake.
Another white wine everyone should taste is Monemvasia Tsimbidi Kydonitsa (£13.99, Novel Wines). Kydonitsa takes its name after the quince fruit and it’s a rare grape variety for Greece, found in the sub-region of Monemvasia in Laconia, one of the Greek mainland’s southern peninsulas. This sun-ripened variety bursts with ripe quince and tropical fruits over a grapefruit-like acidity and a rounded, creamy finish. More herbaceous than the Assyrtico from Lebanon, it’s delicious with spinach and ricotta ravioli, or grilled white fish with spring greens.
Few wines can evoke a holiday-feeling quite like a good rose. For me, Turkey is making the finest rose on the planet – and one of my all-time favourite examples is Kayra Beyaz Kalecik Karasi (£14.99, Novel Wines). Pale orange, this wine comes from the indigenous Kalecik Karasi grape harvested in the high altitude valley vineyards around Denizli in Anatolia. It’s brimming with orange, pink grapefruit, watermelon and strawberry. Dry, crisp and fresh, it works with sushi, poached salmon and buttery new potatoes or soy-based stir fries.
Domaine Fiumicicoli Rouge Corse Sartene (£16.99, Novel Wines) is my Mediterranean choice for red wine fans. From the French-owned island of Corsica, this red’s a blend of three organically-produced grapes: Nielluccio, Sciacarello and Syrah. It’s not a far cry from the style of a northern Italian red with lots of structure and a good balance of bright red fruits and deeper notes; think blueberries, cherries and leathery tannins.
Each grape is parcel-fermented using wild yeasts and then blended together to mature for 18 months in tank. This gives the wine a smooth, generous character. It’s delicious with Comte cheese, grilled meats, or treat yourself to wild boar sausages and mash.
Whatever you choose to drink next, remember to enjoy the little things. A great tasting wine, shared with a loved one – in person or over Zoom – is one of life’s pleasures. Cheers!