After last year’s amazing weather from March through to September, we tend to think – or hope – that every year will be the same. The effects of global warming, however, have sought to bring us back to reality, no doubt increasing sales of umbrellas and waterproof jackets. Although we haven’t experienced the ‘warming’ part of the equation, we have certainly felt the effects of the upset of global weather patterns, with extreme weather hitting many parts of Europe, including the UK (yes, we are still part of Europe!).
Nevertheless, below average or not, we still have a couple of weeks left to fire up the barbie, or serve some summery dishes outside or in, accompanied naturally by a little glass of wine to both complement the dishes and give a boost to morale.
A glass of fizz always lifts the spirits and puts you in the party mood, even if its just the two of you. I have always been a huge fan of the crémant wines from different regions of France, representing excellent value for money. Made by the traditional method – the same as champagne – the quality of all crémant is irreproachable, with the price tag making it very affordable on a regular basis.
Sainsbury’s currently has a rather good Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, made by the aptly named Maison du Crémant, at £14 a bottle. Coming from the prestigious Burgundy region of France, it is made from a blend of several burgundian grape varieties, including chardonnay, aligoté, pinot noir and gamay. Even though the latter two varieties are black, the wine is white, due to gently pressing of the grapes and elimination of the skins, which hold the colour.
Pale golden with a steady stream of fine bubbles, the aromas and flavours are of elderflower, green apple and lime, with hints of brioche from the 14 to 16 months ageing on the lees. A delicious way to start your meal, entertain friends and even excellent with a good old English fish and chips!
Following on from the apéritif, a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc is perfect summer drinking. La Belle Angèle Sauvignon Blanc is elegant, refreshing and aromatic, from Majestic at £9.99. Designated simply as ‘Vin de France’ with no geographical origin, it is a blend of sauvignon blanc from different regions of France, designed to demonstrate the greatness of French sauvignon. Bursting with flavours of apple, citrus and gooseberry, it is the perfect accompaniment to a courgette and bacon quiche.
La Belle Angèle was the muse of many impressionist painters in the BelleÉpoque at the beginning of the 20th century. Known for her charm, elegance, good taste and joie de vivre, the same values as embodied by the wine.
After the starter, now for the main. Spicy sausages on the barbecue, with chicken or kebabs in a herby, peppery marinade with a touch of chili, needs a characterful, full-blooded red to match the smoky, spicy flavours. Les Jamelles Syrah 2019 from The Co-op is just the ticket at a more than reasonable £7.25. From the Pays d’Oc in the south of France, it is a deep coloured red, with great intensity of blackberries, black pepper and spice.
Richard Esling is a wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. He runs agency and consultancy WineWyse, is founder and principal of Sussex Wine Academy and is chairman of Arundel Wine Society