Our cellarer’s tips for September
Il Papavero NV
Italian wine labels can be terrifying – there’s more red tape in Italian viticulture than at the opening of a particularly large publicly financed building project. If you don’t know the difference between your Montepulciano and the Count of Monte Cristo, you can spend a lot of cash on something that really isn’t worth your lira.
When it comes to wine, Italy has a huge amount of choice for pretty much every time of year. The north is famous for its classically dry whites; but, further south, red is king. Competition in the various regions is high – and strict rules mean you can’t always put flashy regional names on your grape juice. How refreshing, then, to drink a bottle of something merely labelled “Vino Rosso” and find it doesn’t taste like it could fuel an Airbus.
The grapes used in Il Papavero come from 4 different regions, rendering it impossible to categorise. You won’t care about that once you’ve poured a glass and stuck your nose into a mix of red berry and a hint of plum. It has a soft mouthfeel, without those puckering tannins to worry about, and it’s extremely quaffable. Like all good Italian red, it’s extremely versatile with food; but it’s not so powerful that you couldn’t sit down with a bottle and a friend simply to chew the cud. This isn’t necessarily a wine to impress people with – although they will be shocked when they find out how much it costs – at £7.49 it’s one of those bottles you should always have to hand. After all, some things are best when they’re simple.
As everyone knows, gin is the spirit that keeps the Catholic Movement on the right path. And – good news for everyone – the juniper-flavoured spirit is enjoying a great renaissance at the moment, with small distilleries popping up all over the place, and plenty of stylistic experimentation occurring. Fresh expressions indeed.
Whilst Tanqueray is not a newcomer to the market (production records go back nearly 200 years), it is, to this drinker’s mind, extremely underrated. Currently three major forms of this gin are regularly available in the UK (at least one more will appear in a future edition of this column) and all of them make an excellent addition to a drinks cabinet.
No.10 is named after the still in which it is made. It’s a premium small batch gin, which packs a punchy 47.3% ABV. It has an extremely crisp nose, while the palate is full of citrus fruit flavours, with grapefruit and orange the key players, and a touch of lime zest. Although it was created to go into martinis, it does make an excellent G&T. Try it with a slice of grapefruit, or consider using it in a Negroni.Widely available at around £30 per 700ml bottle.