Heaven help us, it’s barbecue season. You know, that ghastly time of year when testosterone-fuelled hunter-gatherers push the little lady aside and fire up the rusting, bird poo-covered grate in the garden and ask the neighbours over.
Never mind that these poor saps never darken the kitchen the other 11-and-a-half months of the year (and wouldn’t know what to do there if they did), nor that the little lady in question is a hugely capable Leiths-trained cook as well as a multi–tasking barrister/entrepreneur/CEO/novelist and mother of three, no doubt.
I’ve never ‘got’ barbecues. The food’s either scorched or raw. I mean, isn’t it to save us from such things that God invented kitchens? Be that as it may, here follow six wines perfect both for lovers of barbecues and for miserable gits like me who aren’t.
The 2015 Alto Los Romeros Gran Reserva (1), from the Colchagua Valley in Chile is made from Roussanne and Marsanne which always taste better when blended together than either does on its own. Originally from the Northern Rhône (where they are permitted in both white and red Hermitage), the grapes clearly thrive in Chile. I love this wine’s creaminess and its poached pear and fresh peach/apricot flavours. I love its price, too. £8.95 down from £9.95.
The 2015 Sauvignon de Touraine ‘Le Boulay’ (2) is made at Château de la Presle in the Loire Valley, HQ of Domaine Jean-Marie Penet. This 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc is wonderfully fresh, zesty and full of ripe gooseberries and mangoes. It’s bone-dry on the finish and makes the perfect 6 p.m. kick-starter. £9.90 down from £10.90.
We’ve offered previous vintages of the 2015 Tanners White Burgundy (3) before and I’m delighted to do so again because it’s such a steal. A Chardonnay of real style from Cave de Viré, the highly regarded co-operative near Mâcon, it’s absolutely bang on with deliciously ripe, rounded fruit and just a faint whisper of butter thanks to the briefest spell in oak. £10.95 down from £11.95.
The 2015 Aldonia Vendimia Rioja (4) is a real charmer. A blend of 60 per cent Garnacha (aka Grenache) and 40 per cent Tempranillo, it’s made by the Santos brothers who used to flog all their grapes to the big Rioja houses until they realised their quality was so good they were worth vinifying themselves. They don’t bother with old Rioja terminology such as Crianza and Reserva, but I suspect this does have a touch of oak. It’s fresh, juicy, concentrated and full of ripe cherries and mulberries with a savoury finish. £7.95 down from £8.95.
The 2015 Le Pigeoulet (5) from Frédéric and Daniel Brunier of celebrated Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is right up my street and I hope yours, too. A fabulously complex blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault, it’s soft, smooth and dense with loganberries, plums, leather, liquorice and herbs. The vines lie just outside Châteauneuf-du-Pape, otherwise the ridiculously modest price would be way higher. £11.40 down from £12.90.
Finally, the 2014 Massaya ‘Le Colombier’ (6) from Lebanon, a huge favourite of mine and of everyone else who was at the Spectator Winemaker’s Lunch hosted by Massaya’s Sami Ghosn. The vineyards are at Tanail in the Bekaa Valley and at Faqra on Mount Lebanon where the climate is so benign —hot days, cool nights — that no irrigation is needed, nor pesticides, nor fertilisers. It’s where, Ghosn told us, the vines are neither too stressed nor too comfortable but just happy. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Tempranillo, it’s another extremely barbecue-friendly wine. Don’t say I’m not doing my best. £12.50 down from £13.50.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.