RAISE A GLASS
THANK goodness I’ve survived the last couple of weeks. I hid behind the front door on Halloween (I hate it) and shielded the dog’s ears from the pops and bangs of fireworks. I’m not one for Bonfire Night either.
I bet you think I’m a proper sourpuss. But I do like outdoor fires – just under my own terms.
A few days ago I went to my pal’s house as she’d promised to light the fire pit, throw on a leg of lamb and pour wine. I also took wine to taste-test for your benefit (my life is all about you).
Our first was a white. It’s eight months since I went to New Zealand and met winemakers including Matt Patterson-Green from Jackson Estate. As the fire crackled, my chum and I poured Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay 2015 (RRP £17.95, Ocado, 13% abv) and I shared the story of sipping the same wine in Jackson’s Marlborough tasting room.
The wine was fermented in French oak using natural yeasts and has a soft, but interesting character. Fresh citrus is complemented with figs and a creamy note of almonds.
Next, a red which was a dream with the much-awaited lamb (we sat for hours in front of the fire but the lamb needed a hand
indoors via a less-romantic oven).
Artisan Tasmanian Pinot Noir (£16.99, 14% abv) is an online exclusive to Aldi. The island off the southern tip of Australia is producing some acclaimed cool-climate wines and Artisan has enticing aromas of red fruits, raspberry and a dash of black pepper. The palate isn’t as fruity as the nose; the wine is dry, more herbaceous, with flecks of spice.
We ended our evening with a newly launched champagne Bruno Paillard D:Z Dosage Zero (£49.80, hedonism. co.uk) which is a special treat at the price. In the traditional production method of sparkling wine, a final step is the addition of sugar before the cork traps
in all the goodness for our benefit. If no sugar is added, a wine has “zero dosage” and you’ll also see it on sparkling labels as “brut nature”.
You might think by “dosage zero” this wine could be missing an essence of something, a personality bypass, but you’d be wrong. This is a deliciously crafted and expertly made champagne which my friend and I described as an operetta of loveliness. We warmed to our theme in front of the fire. Aromas of citrus, red apple, shortbread and pear performed in unison; floral notes peeped out from the wings and a chorus of good cleansing acidity added a balancing touch. A perfect finale to a toe-warming evening.
■ Talking of sparkling wine... the 2018 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships have just taken place. Louis Roederer was crowned Supreme World Champion for the Louis Roederer NV Brut Premier in Magnum (£85, or £63.72 in a buy six deal at Majestic). Louis Roederer also won Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year 2018. High five, also, to Cornwall’s Camel Valley Vineyard for winning the Best English Sparkling Wine 2018 category for Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2015 (£29.99, waitrosecellar.com).
For the full list of winners go to champagnesparklingwwc.co.uk
■ Jane is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. Find her on social media and online as One Foot in the Grapes.