Wine and food express characteristics of their locality
- Credit: Archant
This column is about wine food. Note the missing “and” – that’s deliberate.
I’m not writing about matching wine with food (though that happens pretty naturally with this train of thought), but about food associated with wine places.
The idea developed as I topped my breakfast toast with Paysage de Corton honey, flowery-aromatic product of the bees which feast on the hill of Corton, one of the prime wine sites of Burgundy. The honey spoke of the place – as does Corton the wine, though of course with a quite different taste spectrum.
The pots of honey rarely leave France, but instead indulge your eyes with Jon Wyand’s evocative photographic record Une Année en Corton (£29, Amazon). Minimal French text, 215 pages of wonderful wine-related images.
A similar linking of taste, place, food and wine came, too, with the previous evening’s cheese, monte veronese, firm, tasty, creamy/tangy, with an unusual herbal edge (La Fromagerie, Marylebone and Highbury, is one of very few UK stockists).
The cows from whose milk this cheese comes munch on pre-alpine pastures east of Lake Garda, just above the hilly vineyards which produce valpolicella, amarone and bardolino red wines.
Like our own stilton or France’s cantal, monte veronese carries the coveted “protected denomination of origin” sticker, ensuring it comes from and expresses characteristics of a specific area. Just as appellation-controlled wine does.
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There are countless more examples: foie gras from the geese and ducks which share the polyculture landscape of south-western France with the vines of monbazillac and jurançon sweet wines; river fish from the Loire subtly sauced by chefs whose restaurants serve the dry or richer chenin blancs from the river valley; green olives whose ancient trees grow on Andalucia’s soils close to the grapes for fino sherry; New Zealand green-lipped mussels from the sea just beyond Marborough sauvignon blanc vineyards – these are just a beginning. And all of them – the honey excepted – are also wine and food matches made in heaven.
A rather different though equally common linking is wine history. Here’s an intriguing example, the pais grape taken to Chile by the Spanish conquistadors.
It likes the hot, dry South American conditions, but only recently has it been taken seriously by winemakers, to excellent red and sparkling rosé result.
Good delis will provide the food; here are some recommended wines. For Corton, try Albert Bichot 2012 Domaine du Pavillon grand cru (millesima.co.uk has both white, Corton Charlemagne, £77, and red, Clos des Maréchaudes, £58.50) or choose others at your favourite burgundy specialist.
From Garda: Zeni makes attractively fresh yet serious wines (Bardolino Classico 2014, £8, Valpolicella 2014, £9.20, and Amarone Vigne Alte 2011, £30, tanners-wines.co.uk). Masi is also a source of fine, elegant Amarone (Costasera Classico 2011, £30 or £27 mix-six, Majestic; Campolongo di Torbe 2007, £85, Waitrose).
A brilliant sweet yet never cloying wine from jurançon grape petit manseng is Cabidos Cuvée Saint Clément (£9, 50cl, thewinesociety.com).
In both the Loire Valley and New Zealand you’re spoiled for choice, so two personal favourites: Domaine de la Noblaie chenin blanc 2014 (£11, thewinesociety.com); Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley sauvignon blanc 2015 (£13 or £11 mix-six, Majestic).
And the pais saviour is Torres, with Reserva del Pueblo 2013 (£8-£10, slurp.co.uk, nywines.co.uk)