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Archive for July 2011

It's Cool to Chill Your Reds

When I started out in the wine industry in the late 90s, the Beajolais scene from Abigail's Party was very much in people's minds when we reacted in horror to the suggestion of chilling reds. Partly this inflexibility was down to the fact that, in the wine trade, the only person more up his own ar**e about wine than a wineshop assistant with 6 months experience, is a sommelier with 6 months experience. But 15 years later my view has been modified;  now I have a more phlegmatic approach to what people do with wine once they've bought it from me, but more importantly I've been to enough wineries now to know just how many reds are drunk straight from the 15 degree cellar by the winemakers themselves.

I mention all of this because we seem to have a really strong demand for the sort of reds that lend themselves towards a quick spell (say 10 minutes) in the fridge. That's to say light bodied, lowish tannnins, crisp acidity but a decent amount of zippy fruit. Beaujolais such as the '09 Colonge (£10) is an obvious starting point. Our Barbera d'Asti Casareggio from Pavia (£10) is another one. There is also the Frappato grape from Sicily; our  Baccaria (£8) and the higher end 2010 from Cos (£17.50) both manage to combine lighter weighted refreshment with an appealing smooth texture. Two excellent Italian Cabernet Francs, the brightly fruity Blason (£11.75) from Friuli Isonzo, and the more spicy Tenuta di Caldella (£11) from Veneto are superb with a goats cheese salad. The other grape which comes immediately to mind is Pinot Noir - the problem is that the prices which can be attached to this grape, plus its aromatic complexity, push our willingness to serve reds cool to the limit. Which leads to the caveat of this piece: be aware when chilling reds, or expensive whites for that matter, that added refreshment comes at the expense of aroma.

Tom

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