Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 6)

Sommelier Luca Gagliardi - Dubai sommeliers - FooDiva - #FooDivaVino

Meet sommelier Luca Gagliardi

After our last wine column on rosés, I feel that I should act more like a sommelier, so I am introducing some relatively unknown grapes and blends with this sixth wine column.

In the last few decades, we have enjoyed the so-called international grape variety, mostly indigenous grapes from France and lately, Italy and Spain. The reason being that the ‘vitis vinifera’, the plant for growing grapes to produce wines, belongs to the old world. So whilst we have been discovering the new world, we have planted grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and much more. Finally, in the last few years, we have re-discovered the so-called indigenous grape variety, mostly from the old world, with some from the new world that have adapted very well to their new home.  

Special thanks to both MMI and A&E where you can buy these wines, in addition to duty free of course. As usual, please note this column contains references to alcohol, and is therefore only for reading if you are of a legal drinking age in your country of residence (21 years in the UAE) and non-Muslim.

So here’s our sixth column of four wines under AED100 (including tax!). Let us know what you think in the comments or on social media using the hashtag #FooDivaVino. If you missed them, here are the previous columns. Cin cin 🙂

Torrontes 'Serie A', Zuccardi, Argentina, 2015 - Wines in the UAE - #FooDivaVinoGentil, Hugel, France, 2014 - Wines in UAE - #FooDivaVinoPrimitivo 'Sasseo', Masseria Altemura, Italy, 2014 - Wines in UAE - #FooDivaVinoCarmenere, Santa Carolina, Chile, 2015 - Wines in UAE - #FooDivaVino

  • Torrontes ‘Serie A’, Zuccardi, Argentina, 2015 – despite the fact that Serie A doesn’t actually mean anything in particular, this is one of the best value wines in the market. The Torrontes grape from Argentina is not related to the Spanish one from Galicia, but it’s more a cross between Pais and the sweet Muscat of Alexandria. Today it’s a flagship grape of Argentina. This particular Torrontes is medium in body and quite aromatic, whilst showing an array of white stone fruit, citrus, and good acidity. It’s a very straightforward wine that can be enjoyed with a Keralan fish curry made with coconut milk as the aromas in the wine perfectly match those Indian spices, and to an extent Thai spices as well. In my house, I like it with a selection of Swiss cheeses, gruyere in particular, served with fruit chutneys, as the aromatic dry finish of this wine pairs very well. AED56 + tax from MMI.
  • Gentil, Hugel, France, 2014for a sommelier like myself, Alsace is probably one of the best wine regions in the world as the quality and array of the grape varieties are second-to-none. They are called noble grapes (think Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Muscat) and are often not enjoyed by those outside the wine business due to their perfumed and aromatic characteristics. This wine, Gentil, is a good choice for first timers as it’s a blend of those noble grape varieties including Pinot Gris, Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc. Expect it to be fresh, lively and aromatically perfumed with fruit, flowers and spices, whilst dry on the finish. With such amazing flavours, the perfect fusion lies in jasmine rice dishes such as Thai fish soup, or with Iranian saffron rice topped with spicy shrimps. I like enjoying this wine for meditation after a meal, whilst I’m on the balcony contemplating my day gone by. AED75 + tax from A&E.
  • Primitivo ‘Sasseo’, Masseria Altemura, Italy, 2014 – not many know that Primitivo from the Puglia region in Italy, was, in the past, blended with some of the northern Italian iconic wines, because it added weight, and for this reason was massively produced. Today Primitivo is becoming a star in its own right because of its delicious black fruit, round palate and big body that is supported by a great volume of alcohol and acidity. I have some special friends from Bahrain that travel here to drink it. The wine is big, but without being jammy, so it’s perfect for red wine lovers who are unfussy and who prefer fruit and spices over oak. For food pairing, be creative with venison and chocolate sauce, or think big, such as braised mutton, spare ribs with barbeque sauce, or more simply with pappardelle and oxtail ragout. AED76 + tax from MMI.
  • Carmenere, Santa Carolina, Chile, 2015the Chilean Carmenere grape is a very recent story, 1991 to be precise, when it was discovered that it wasn’t a clone of Merlot. For 150 years it was used and labelled as Merlot. Originating from Bordeaux, the Carmenere is a grape variety that has the charm of Merlot and the structure of Cabernet. The Santa Carolina Carmenere is an outstandingly priced wine – an easy-going wine, with black and red fruit, touches of spices and with a great mouthful. The price point makes it perfect for a large BBQ, to sip whilst cooking, enjoying a movie or getting ready to go out. It pairs well with iconic and simple Italian dishes like penne al pomodoro, pizza margherita and meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. AED45 + tax from A&E.

WHO IS LUCA GAGLIARDI? Sommelier by birth, and Michelin-starred trained maître d’, Luca dedicated a decade to the service of world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay. His CV boasts restaurants and bars including Roberto’s, Iris, Solo and R Trader. In his spare time, Luca is in his state-of-the-art home kitchen cooking for friends and discovering new wines, typically anything but rosé! You can follow him on his wine blog Tasted and Rated, Twitter at @sommelierdubai and on Instagram at @simonelucagagliardi

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