In line with the theme of this month’s edition, I have the chance to delve a little deeper into three wines, one each of the classic hues. Doubtless, some jokers may say: “What about Vinho Verde or Blue Nun?” Well, Vinho Verde I would include in a Portuguese review, while Blue Nun I wouldn’t serve at my worst enemy’s funeral.
Top spin on the red
Gran Sangre de Toro hails from the vast and prestigious company of Torres, the flagship winery of which is still in the Penedes, in spite of interests they have in the Americas. It is made from Grenache and Mouvedre and Syrah grapes and is vinified at 14%. It is rich and powerful but has some elegance – there are notes of deep, ripe red fruit, quite plummy with some spice, it fills the mouth and older vintages are smooth with very good length. You can find it in some Carrefour supermarkets and a number of wine shops sell it in Brussels – expect to pay around €10 per bottle. In the early 1970s, a Torres red wine beat the famous Chateau Latour from the Haut Medoc in a wine Olympiad, in much the same way that a Californian Chardonnay came top in a blind tasting in France in 1976.
Bringing the white back
Which brings me to my white; in fact, it is the wine that came first in that tasting some 37 years ago. Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from the Napa Valley is still one of the great whites of the New World. There are others that are more expensive, and may be better according to some, but this wine has a great pedigree, with wonderful elegance and power, without seeming to have half an oak tree in it for flavour. It is still around $30 a bottle for the latest vintage in the States, around €30 over here, so not cheap, but really worth a try if you are a fan of great Chardonnays from outside France, and bear in mind it beat some extremely expensive white Burgundies in the tasting.
Pocketing the pink
For the pink, we come back to Champagne in France, and pink champagne has that air of luxury and romance that is irresistible. It also tastes beautiful as well, lovely length of bright fruit with a splash of toast and biscuits. I once tried to woo a charming American lady by rowing her up the Thames in Richmond near London, pulling a bottle of Lanson Rose and two glasses out of nowhere… my only ever success at a magic trick. However I’m not plumping for the Lanson, but going for the Piper Heidseck Rose Sauvage. They leave the skins of the grapes in a touch longer, and it is a splendid dark pink with a deeper fruit flavour, a really opulent colour and well worth its €32 a bottle – definitely to be shared with someone special, and I would drink it on its own to savour the great and distinct red fruit tastes.
If you want to take my cue (sic), show up with all three for a small dinner party and you‘ll win with flying colours.