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Valentine’s Day Wines – Just Pop Your Cork!

13
Feb
“My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable
Yet you’re my favourite work of art”

It’s Valentine’s Day. But why just one day? Let’s carry this loving 24 hours through the coming week In which case I can get some mileage out of this week’s column and it won’t be irrelevant if you read it on, say, Sunday afternoon. So, by the powers vested in me by the firm of Cupid & Eros and Associates, I hereby proclaim the next 7 days: Valentine’s Week.  I certainly admire the intimate moments between two people, if they are enjoyed in person rather than via text messages. And the libation which best compliments these encounters is quite tantalizing. There no question to my mind that fizzy wine is the best friend a romantic evening can invite along. So I have found one of my favourite sparkling wine producers from Italy, and one from France and also one non sparkly wine from New Zealand with a romantic background. I’ve thought about the types of wines which would be well suited to the mood, and I’ve approached the combinations as I would those for food and wine. But I didn’t manage the same amount of sampling I would undertake with wine and food. So here are my suggestions:

Growing up in London I remember going to the cinema and seeing very romantic commercials for Martini & Rossi, the Italian company who also produced vermouths and the French aperitif called Noilly Prat.

All Prices Are Approximate.

MARTINI & ROSSI Prosecco DOC $14.99  Is made from the gorgeously aromatic Glera grape. It offers a perfume and a flavor of fresh summer fruits with the emphasis on apples and some hints of citrus. Not a full on sparkling wine, the gentle spritz will ease you both into a romantic mood and offer promises of a delightfully tasteful evening. A great wine to set the mood.

MARTINI & ROSSI Sparkling Rosé $12.99 Moscato Bianco that devil of a seducer used in Asti Spumante is most definitely in this blushing bride of a wine. And in addition Brachetto and Malvasia grapes are added. If you enjoy your pink sparkling wines with less sweetness and more fruit, then this wine nails your taste buds! Yet more summery fruits dance around in your mouth with a drizzling of zesty lemon. I don’t know how they give us so much bang for the buck…but for the best bang on Valentine’s Day I’d wager this filly to go the distance.

MARTINI & ROSSI Asti DOCG $12.99 The Asti is produced from Moscato Bianco grapes from the Piedmont region of Italy. I don’t know anybody who can’t give themselves willingly to probably the most famous producer of this elixir. The wine has oodles of bubbles, tastes just like shriveled and utterly delicious grapes with hints of green ripened melon, a little apricot and most definitely a cameo from Granny Smith.

When we think about French Champagne, one name seems to be synonymous with this region. The same way that Hoover is always centre stage when we think about vacuum cleaners. It’s Moët & Chandon of course. And they have 2 sinfully sensuous champagnes for the big V Day. 

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2006 $90OK so this is huge investment for somebody you cherish more than yourself. A person who means the world to you and you’d do anything for. The person who had or may yet have your child (who will eventually check you in to a nursing home). Come on, open your wallet and once the moths have been dispatched, open a bottle of the most exquisite elixir the French sparkling wine region has on offer.  If you enjoy being surprised by the winemaker each vintage then this is the bubbly for you. The winemaker is given a free hand to produce the drink he feels inspired to create for that precise vintage. It’s quite like an artist with a paint brush and blank canvas. The canvas is the climate and the soil and the paint brush is made from the grapes that bristled on the vines during harvest. The 2 classic Champagne grapes went into this bottling: Pinot Noir (47%) and Chardonnay (33%). The other 20% came from Pinot Meunier. The wine has toasted bread and heavy floral notes and 
the most deliciously satisfying flavour that will be as enjoyable on its own in front of the fifre or accompanying food on the candlelit table. It has a rich and full finish leaving a delicious lingering taste in the mouth. Does it taste like its worth $90? Is it better than sex? Will it call out somebody else’s name while you’re savouring it? I can’t answer those questions but I can tell you that if you want to pop its cork it won’t tell you it has a headache!

MOËT & CHANDON ROSÉ IMPÉRIAL $60 The younger sister of the Grand Vintage Rosé this wine is a little lighter in its expression and flavour and intensity. The same 3 grape varieties as the previous wine and not too dissimilar in all of its characteristics but toned down a notch for those who are not quite ready for the top of the line, more complex pink sparklers from Moet. This is certainly not an “entry” level pink champagne by any stretch of the imagination, but it might just be the ticket for the newbies to upper echelon French champagne. You will also find more of summer red berries in this wine which to some is far more palatable. This is the second year running I’ve carefully removed the pressured cork from this bottle. This wine has all the grace of a European princess, the sparkle of a Harry Winston ring on Oscar’s Red Carpet and the bouquet of the perfume hall of Harrods. The flavour is as tasteful as the outfits you and your lover wear to impress one another and the taste it leaves in your mouth is as fresh and lingering as that first kiss you both remember so fondly (hopefully with each other!) 

Loveblock Pinot Noir 2013, Central Otago, New Zealand $37 Erica and Kim Crawford had a love affair with each other and with the hills overlooking the Awatere Valley. This view is where Loveblock Farm now sits. The Central Otago vineyard is named Someone’s Darling.  (The “Someone’s Darling” block was named after a legend that in the mid-1800s, the farmer who owned the land found the body of a young man on the property.  The farmer buried him and for the lack of name, identity and kin, he simply engraved on the course wooden cross “Someone’s Darling.”) I told this story when we tasted this wine on my show some months ago. The label is as awesome as the wine. Plenty of dark cherry notes which follow through in the taste, with traces of oak and a drizzling of lime…but perhaps I love this wine so much my mind just wandered off into the ether and imagined additional flavours. So can we just settle for: YUMMY?!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Cheers!

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