So, New Zealand are the new rugby world champions. I am no expert but the final appeared to me closer to tug of war: you sensed the New Zealanders had that trophy in their teeth and they weren’t about to give it up!
Congratulations all round and it seems appropriate to toast their success with some of their very yummy wines. I recently tasted the Convergence Sauvignon Blanc Two Rivers of Marlborough 2010 (£12.50 www.leaandsandeman.co.uk) and fell for its bright passion fruit and sweet tropical citrus fruit flavours. There’s definitely some lees-ageing too that gives the wine extra depth of flavour on the palate.
If only red will do, then the Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 (£16.50 www.thewinesoceity.com) is a striking example of how good New Zealand Syrah can be. The fruits are elegant and concentrated with earthy spice and fine, grainy tannins. It’s a wine that will cellar well and I’d say could be just about perfect come the next world cup — if you can wait that long. Just about as determined as the New Zealand rugby team is my mum who turns 70 in the next few days. It has not exactly made headline news in the family but the secret came out when it transpired she was hosting a lunch for herself and her other ‘made it to 70 in 2011’ friends.
Some celebratory bubbly is clearly in order and I am delivering to her some bottles of Paul Déthune Champagne to mark the occasion.
This Champagne is, without question, the best Grand Cru I have ever tasted at under £30 a bottle. Let me not be accused of mincing my words: utterly delicious and fabulous value. The family have seven hectares in and around the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay. They don’t buy grapes in, nor sell to the co-operative, as they are ‘récoltant-manipulants’, which is to say that they make, bottle and sell their wines under their own label.The family make seven Champagnes in total — including a Rosé, a Blanc de Blancs and a Vintage — though it is the Brut (a blend of 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay) that has most recently captured my interest. There is a charming vivacity to the fruit and attractive toasty notes. The mousse is persistent and elegant — no clumsy froth here. It also succeeds in being sufficiently characterful and dry to work well with a bit of food but still gentle enough to make for an impressive aperitif.
It’s not that easy to track down, but you can order it online from www.thesampler.co.uk for £29.70. It might be worth considering as we start thinking about Christmas . . .