Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 8)
Happy 2017 to all you lovely wine readers. May this year bring you health, happiness and lots of bottles. I am dedicating this eighth column to old classic grape varieties, the so-called international grape variety, all belonging initially to France, and today, widespread around the world.
As a sommelier it always amuses me when customers tell me, “I only drink Chardonnay, or Sauvignon.” My simple answer is always, “which one? which style?” It’s not true that all Chardonnay wines are the same, or that all Sauvignon have gooseberry and passion fruit flavours. It’s a myth because the terroir is different, the climate is different, the vinification techniques are different, the fermentation vessels are different, the winemakers are different – and all these factors produce completely different styles of wines. Someone that only loves Chardonnay misconstrues the grape and the wines; however there are styles of Chardonnay that are consistent globally.
Today I will showcase four of these classic grapes – all originating from France, but now produced in four different countries – to demonstrate the impact that the production country has on these wines. This, I think, will replicate a theme for future columns – to showcase one grape variety, produced in four diverse styles.
We start the new year with a key partner for our wine column. Say hello to Monviso, the Italian natural mineral water brand with its low sodium content and total dissolved solids (TDS) – available across the UAE at leading supermarkets and restaurants. With all this wine drinking, you need to stay hydrated, so Monviso would love to gift UAE readers a six-pack of 1.5L still natural mineral water. All you need to do is comment on this column with how much water you drink every day 🙂 Deadline for entries is end of play on the 2nd February 2017. Monviso will email you to organise delivery.
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 eighth column, with top 4 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 🙂
- Chardonnay ‘Libaio’, Ruffino, Italy, 2014 – many think Chardonnay is a single style, however it is one of the most planted grape varieties growing everywhere. This doesn’t mean that they all come in the same style. On the contrary, they come in such diverse styles that if you don’t know your wines, you will undoubtedly be left unhappy if you choose the opposite style. Take for example Chablis (yes it’s 100% Chardonnay), and an oaky Californian Chardonnay. While the Chablis is an austere wine – very fresh with lots of minerality and acidity, and straightforward fruit flavours such as citrus and white stone fruits – the oaked Chardonnay is much richer and rounder in style, with lots of vanilla and toastiness coming from the oak, and tropical fruit flavours. So these two styles are polar opposites in terms of their taste, with a wide range of options in the middle. This Libaio stands in the unoaked style of Chardonnay with ripe fruit and flowery notes – and pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes. The fruitiness and acidity classes this wine as medium body and matches well with egg and frittata-style breakfasts (if you’re inclined to drink first thing), cream or tomato-based pasta dishes, fresh raw seafood such as prawns, tuna, salmon, as well as Western chicken and turkey recipes. Indeed this style has more food-friendly pairings than any other wine style. AED60 + tax from MMI.
- Sauvignon Blanc, Morgenhof Estate, South Africa, 2015 – in the last two decades, Sauvignon Blanc has replaced Chardonnay as the iconic grape variety for daily drinking around the world. It’s a grape variety that is loved for its freshness and distinctive aromatic fruit and flavour. It’s a starting point for any wine lover who wants to learn to recognise different grape varieties. It’s an honest wine, as wine makers tend not to intervene much in the wine making process and it’s usually sold the year after harvesting. This Sauvignon Blanc has more ripe fruit but maintains a great acidity. It’s the best companion for an aperitif, and a perfect replacement for rosé on a sunny day. I would definitely match it with a quinoa and vegetable salad, Thai fish cakes and Asian seafood dishes brimming with chilli, lime and coriander. AED71 + tax from A&E.
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Fetzer, California, 2014 – Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of grape varieties and doesn’t need any introduction, as it is loved by so many. Most of the top wines from around the world are Cabernet-based such as Left Bank Bordeaux, Napa Valley California, Coonawarra Australia and Colchagua Valley Chile, just to mention few. It has a masculine backbone structure, with black fruit flavours, firm tannins and a potential to age. Because of its firm tannins, it’s a wine that needs to be enjoyed exclusively with food, as the matching makes it easy to drink even when relatively young. Entry-level Cabernet such as this Fetzer is always a good buy, and most are always of good quality. Enjoy it with American meat dishes such as baby back ribs with barbeque sauce, smoked barbeque brisket, or simply pan-seared and oven-roasted rib eye, grilled fillet steak, and any meat with a high fat and protein content. AED60 + tax from MMI.
- Merlot, Casa Lapostolle, Chile, 2013 – for many years I have been advising wine novices to drink Merlot, simply because it’s a grape variety that is fruit-led, with raspberries and crushed berry flavours. It’s a seductive grape, charming, pleasant, inviting and very easy to drink. The great thing about Merlot is the smoothness of its tannins and warmth of sensation in the mouth. If you’re sad, drink merlot, it will make you smile 🙂 Despite the movie Sideways where actor Paul Giamatti in the role of Miles makes a big statement against Merlot, it has great potential to make outstanding wines such as Petrus. In its original birthplace of Bordeaux, all the wines from St. Émilion and Pomerol are mainly produced with Merlot. This example from Casa Lapostolle is great to drink solo. For food pairing, I usually enjoy it with minced beef recipes such as beef burgers, meatballs in tomato sauce, spaghetti Bolognese, beef or lamb kibbeh and kofta kebabs – all amazing combinations. AED56 + 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
— FooDiva (@FooDivaWorld) January 25, 2017