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Neil Sowerby’s November Wine Column

Mr Tippler wants you to win two tickets to Manchester Art Gallery tasting

Written by . Published on November 6th 2013.

Neil Sowerby’s November Wine Column

I’M not sure how many BBC big wigs are still commuting up to Media City and then back to London at the weekend. HS2 is still a pipe dream and the Virgin hours can drag, so I understand the need to unwind with a wine-fuelled Pendolino picnic.

On nose and palate there’s a wealth of pear, with a lingering off-dry aftertaste. One to tackle Asian food or soft smelly cheeses. 

Come Friday afternoon, urban myth has it, the long distance homeward bound Beeb people are stocking up in Booths’ perfectly appointed Salford Quays store. 

Lucky them; on the evidence of a recent tasting of Booths’ wines. The French selection is particularly attractive – here are five belters.   

At the simplest fruity level, I’d go for Berticot Sauvignon Blanc Cotes de Duras (£6.49), gentle nettley Sauvignon, easy drinking in the best way. 

Equally picnic-friendly is the cool-fermented Picpoul de Pinet, Baron de Badassiere (£7.49), from the South of France, which offers lots of crisp green apple and a mineral edge. The chuckleful name comes from the vineyard, owned in the 18th century by the colourful Baron Charles Emmanuel, rumoured to be the illegitimate son of Louis XV. 

For a special treat, with a smoked salmon salad or sushi perhaps, lash out £18.79 on the fleshy, grapefruity Alsace biodynamic white Josmeyer Riesling Kottabe 2010(£18.79). Kottabe is French for 'Cottabos', an ancient Greek drinking game played during the symposia whereby participants tossed the sediment of their wine into a basin and amorous liaisons ensued. Should be an interesting journey after Stoke.

Generic Bourgogne Rouges can be flabbily disappointing but, from an assiduous producer, great value. Domaine Joillot Bourgogne Pinot Noir (£9.99) is one such from a Pommard-based winemaker. There’s limpid fruit, all bramble and spice, with structure and length. 

A more complex delight is a claret from Listrac with some bottle age. Chateau Fourcas Dumont 2006 (£14.99) is from hand-picked grapes – 50 per cent Merlot, 40 Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 Petit Verdot –grown on vines over 30 years old in Listrac. It’s delicately oaky on the nose and the smooth blackcurrant and cherry fruit finishes long. 

It’s not every day you get to go wine tasting with the entire Tottenham Hotspur squad (Are you having one of those stream of consciousness breakdowns? Ed).

Sadly, as we arrived, Glenn Hoddle’s (yes, it was that long ago) on-tour boys were just leaving to limber up for their friendly with THE Kaiser Chiefs. The Leeds band of that ilk had yet to release an album.  

Still for a while we had the historic Cape wine estate of Vergelegen to ourselves. The landscape, the 18th century gabled homestead yoked to a state of the art winery and André van Rensburg’s wines, of course, were all just glorious, in particular the reds. 





A recent encounter with the vibrant, delicately perfumed, Vergelegen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Majestic, £19.99, offer until November 14, buy two save £6)  brought the memory flooding back. A third of the estate is now planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and that grape makes up 88 per cent of the 2007 vintage. The result is quite Bordeaux like – a complex mix of blackcurrant, spice, ripe plums and toasty oak, finishing long. 

Co-operatives are among the best sources of Alsace wine. The Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr is one of the smallest but its Kuhlmann-Platz Pinot Gris 2012 (Majestic, £9.99) is perfectly formed. The chalky soils of the co-op’s 200 hectares contribute to the crisp acidity that underpins the distinctive smokiness. On nose and palate there’s a wealth of pear, with a lingering off-dry aftertaste. One to tackle Asian food or soft smelly cheeses. 

The Co-operative Food has introduced a premium tier to its own-brand wine range – using its established Truly Irresistible brand on wine for the first time. So far so wines have been launched, an interesting, eclectic bunch in the price range £8.49-£9.99. They will also be on special promotion for Christmas. 

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Godello 2012 (£8.49):

With premium Albarino creeping up in price, Godello, from the same north west corner of Spain, make an attractive alternative if you seek the same fresh, peachy, floral accompaniment to seafood. This is a good ‘un. 

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Gavi Broglia 2011(£9.99):

From Piero Broglia’s estate – where vines have been grown since 971 AD – this is another crisp, refreshing dry white with typical mouthfeel, all creamy peach and honey.  

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Chinon 2011 (£9.99):

Domaine de la Noblaie is in the Loire Valley’s best red wine area and is crafted from 100 per cent Cabernet Franc grapes, grown in limestone soils. It smells plummy, tastes characteristically slatey but with just enough ripe fruit. I’d chill it slightly. 

Win a pair of tickets to Manchester Art Gallery Get Fortified wine tasting. 

Regular readers of this column know my liking for Portuguese wines and Manchester city centre wine merchants Hanging Ditch, who in the past have hosted their annual wine fair in Manchester Art Gallery. 

The three elements are coming together in a fund-raiser at the Gallery in Mosley Street on Thursday, November 21, 6.30-9pm. For Get Fortified, Hanging Ditch are providing fortified and dessert wines from Portugal to raise money for the Gallery’s forthcoming show of work by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, opening in February 2014.

With wine tasting, opera interludes, cheese and bread to nibble on and a live link up to Portugal to speak to Joana herself, it promises to be a fabulous night. 

Tickets are priced at £25 each.

Email Friends@manchester.gov.uk or call 0161 2358873 to book tickets.

Manchester Confidential has a pair of tickets to give away FREE. For your chance to win,  tell me which Northern Portuguese city is the centre of the port trade. Send your answer to neils@cpub.co.uk by midnight on Wednesday, November 13. 

This year’s Hanging Ditch Wine Fair is being held at Cathedral on the Street, in front of Manchester Cathedral, at 6.30pm on Friday, November 15. It costs £25 a head. Ring 0161  832 8222 to book, but be quick – this event is always oversubscribed.

The winery at VergelenThe winery at Vergelen

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