The wines we enjoyed this weekend:
Denbies Hampshire English Sparkling Brut 2015
St Julien 2002, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalonde, 33250 Pauillac
Terrazza d’Isula, Niellucciu Merlot 2017, Île de Beauté IGP (Corsica)
Toasting the sunset after the Equinox with English Sparkling bottled in Surrey but grown in Hampshire. Asda’s label suggests their bottle makes a “quintessentially British pairing with Fish and Chips”, which undersells this quality wine. We enjoyed it with Terry’s cooking of Sea Bass roasted in fennel and orange with Vermouth. We found the English Sparkling more Demi-sec than Brut, but we enjoyed the plentiful nose and the pretty full and rounded flavour. It’s presumably mainly Pinot Noir, from the taste.
Very drinkable indeed but you wouldn’t say this English Sparkling was refined despite the similar pricing to a Champagne, but it wasn’t coarse like a cheap Cava either, nor did it leave your throat feeling dry.
As well as their renowned Pauillac vines, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalonde own just one hectare of land “across the border” in St Julien with rights to produce no more than 500 cases, so this bottle from my cellar that I received as a family present is a speciality and a comparative rarity. It was also a practically perfect wine, everything that a classic claret should be: deep red colour, velvety, rounded, extremely strong taste and not at all tannic, stable in the glass, meaning it did not degrade after opening. Now a wonderful memory. Terry tasted it as strongly on the blackberry axis. He’d cooked us his own family’s recipe of Beef Stroganoff together with red and white steamed beetroot, from his own garden, which complemented the claret perfectly.
Finally for our weekend, Terry cooked a sausage casserole with yellow and red peppers and tomatoes from his garden. I'd brought back a distinctive Niellucciu wine from Corsica, its ruby red colour showing neither Sangiovese nor Tempranillo flavour but its own variation on that axis of taste, about halfway between the two. Our glasses bringing back my happy memories from just a couple of years ago of hot summer nights near Ajaccio, Golfe de Girolata and the Costa Rossa on my 2018 Corsican bike ride.