RAISE A GLASS

WITH

Leicester Mercury - - Food & Drink - JANE CLARE

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.

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