Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 9)

Sommelier Luca Gagliardi - Dubai sommeliers - FooDiva - #FooDivaVino

Meet sommelier Luca Gagliardi

February in the southern hemisphere is harvesting time. And as you read this column, I am on a wine trip in South Africa, a legendary wine region that in only 25 years has risen to become one of the best in the world. So you now know what I will be recommending in our next column 😉

This month is dedicated to the blend of different grape varieties, an art form with the purpose of achieving more complexity in the wine. What many don’t know, is that the majority of the wines on this planet are blended, which means that if you buy a Cabernet Sauvignon from California, by law, the wine maker is only required to include 75% Cabernet Sauvignon to label that wine with this grape, while in Europe the percentage required by law is 85%. So why do we blend? Are the 100% pure varieties better in a way? There is not one single answer for these two questions as it depends on many factors.

The blend is an art for many wine makers, like in the Champagne region, where the cellar master in charge of blending the cuvées, has the difficult task of maintaining the consistent house style year after year. In Bordeaux, blending is necessary to achieve harmony in the wine – because of the cool climate, Cabernet needs more sweet fruits and aromatics, otherwise the end product would be a little austere. Other explanations are tied to the history and tradition of the area. As the reasons are endless, today I want to share a few blends that are mainly made because the marriage between these grape varieties complement each other better than if they were created as single varieties.

We’re able to bring you this column regularly thanks to our key partner 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 🙂

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 ninth 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 🙂

  • #FooDivaVino - Wines in UAE - FoodivaTorrontes-Pinot Grigio, Fuzion Alta, Argentina, 2016: this blend has been customised to give extra acidity to the Torrontes grape variety, an aromatic grape with stone fruit flavours like peach, apricot and pineapple with a round texture. The wine shows off the sweet aromatics supported by a good amount of acidity, which makes it more appealing to the palate. Therefore the wine has a much more food-friendly approach, and is not just restricted to spicy Indian and Thai cuisine, but also to more savoury dishes like guacamole, Peruvian ceviche, and dare I say as a proud Italian, Hawaiian pizza! AED45 + tax from MMI.
  • Semillon-Chardonnay, Rawson’s Retreat, Australia, 2015Semillon and Chardonnay grape varieties have many similarities. They are both full in body, yet they successfully complement each other as the Semillon brings more lemon, apple and pear notes when not fully matured, without compromising the balance with the body of the Chardonnay. There is a little touch of oak that brings more complexity to the fruit. What I love about this wine is its pure essence and fruit elements that give it a really fresh taste. I would definitely replace your Sauvignon Blanc with this wine for now. Great with salad dishes such as goat’s cheese and roasted peppers, or a Thai green mango salad. AED63 + tax from A&E.
  • Gran Sangre de Toro, Torres, Spain, 2012Garnacha, Carinena and Syrah are the grape varieties which make up this beautiful blend. From one side, Garnacha and Syrah boast beautiful spices and pepper notes, whilst Carinena adds tannins, backbone and acidity. The finished product is an amazing product with a very affordable price tag. It’s a fun wine with lots of depth and a warm and peppery finish. Ideal to match with roasted meat of any kind like flank steak, beef brisket, lamb chops and spare ribs with spicy marinades. If you want to stay away from barbeques, try it with chilli con carne, a goulash type of stew, or a simple penne Arrabiata. AED66 + tax from MMI.
  • Shiraz-Cabernet, Rosemount, Australia, 2015: this marriage between two phenomenal grape varieties is the most acclaimed Australian wine style, thanks to Max Shubert, the creator of Penfolds Grange, who in 1962 blended Coonawarra Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz, creating Bin 60A. Not many people know that Northern Rhone Syrah was blended for Bordeaux wines before the 20th century, when the vintage was poor and the Bordeaux winemakers were adding it to enrich the colour and depth. A perfect blend, this Rosemount wine has nothing to do with Bin 60A, however, I love the generous fruit of raspberries and plums. The medium body with hints of spices makes an ideal wine to be enjoyed over a barbeque of spicy ribs, turkey sausages and pork chops. The price is so attractive that you can open as many bottles as you wish. AED56 + tax from A&E.

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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 @tastedandrated – or for wine consultancy services via email at luca@tastedandrated.com

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