Three fine wines to drink this summer
Author: Issariya Morgan
With summer on the horizon, we asked three of our experts which wines they’ll be uncorking over the coming months. They’ve each selected a wine of special importance to them – whether they recall memories of past travels, moments of discovery or the simple pleasure of a delicious drop on a lockdown evening.
Ethereal, New World Pinot
2017 Nicolas-Jay, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
This bottle was a glimmer of light amidst the bleak January, lockdown evenings. The red cherry notes, teamed with an earthy, forest floor note, was the perfect antidote to winter – but please don’t think 2017 Nicolas-Jay, Pinot Noir is a one season wonder, as I can’t wait to enjoy it as the evenings get warmer. With tangy redcurrants and a velvety texture, this bottle really made me sit up and recognise Oregon as the second home for Pinot. This is not a regular occurrence and I have found that other wines from Oregon haven’t hit the same note.
I think it’s the perfect wine for the coming months, as the fruit profile screams summer. Strawberries, raspberries and plums all intertwine in this multi-layered wine. It is both ethereal and broad-shouldered, reflecting Burgundian tradition and Oregon terroir. I’d like to open a bottle now! I can imagine sipping it post-work or serving it alongside a summery dish, as the tannins are supple, and nothing is out of kilter.
I’ve always been a fan of Burgundy and since trying this particular Pinot Noir, I am a convert to Nicolas-Jay, which is hardly surprising given the pedigree of this estate. Founded by eminent Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Meo (of famed Burgundy domaine Meo-Camuzet) and music entrepreneur Jay Boberg, the project is a crossing of cultures. You can really feel the influence of the great Jean-Nicolas Meo and I wholeheartedly think this bottle is worth every penny.
If you want to taste how good New World Pinot Noir can be, then this is the wine for you.
Tatiana Humphreys, Private Account Manager
Memories of Constantia
2017 Constantia Glen Five, Constantia, South Africa
Rising mercury might not necessarily have you reaching for big reds but – especially when our British summer can seem a little reluctant – I get a pang for anything which evokes memories of warm sun and gentle breeze. I can recall vividly the first time I visited Constantia Glen ten years ago: sitting in their perfect amphitheatre vineyard overlooking False Bay with a glass of FIVE in hand. To this day, the mere whiff of it conjures up feelings of summer.
The Constantia region in Western Cape is South Africa’s oldest and coolest wine region, and it remains a favourite vineyard area of mine. If I could draw a (tenuous) comparison with the Grands Crus of Burgundy, when you stand in the vines, it’s easy to understand why someone thought it was a good idea to plant a vineyard here 400 years ago. This is a perfect spot, between two oceans, providing moderation for South Africa’s climate. This cooling influence allows Constantia Glen to make their elegant whites and reds in a style which show finesse rather than brute force.
The FIVE is a homage to owner Alex Waibel’s love of red Bordeaux, made from a blend of all five of the classic Bordeaux varietals. The herbal, earthy character of the wine hints to Alex’s preference for restraint but the creamy oak and voluptuous fruit offer more than a hint of New World panache. This is certainly worthy of something more than a burnt sausage from the barbeque – a perfectly cooked aged ribeye, perhaps. For me, though, this is a perfect sunset wine, to be enjoyed with the cooling evening and bottles of rosé upended in the ice bucket.
Adam Holden, Director to the Chairman’s Office
A Tuesday-night Champagne
Champagne Pierre Peters, Cuvée de Réserve, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Brut
Champagne. Nothing beats it frankly. Is there any other drink in the world that can be enjoyed at any time of day, for any occasion? Like on Christmas morning with the stockings, or over a weekend lunch, or as a pre-dinner apéritif – it just works. Lily Bollinger was right: there is no situation that isn’t enhanced with a glass of fizz.
I’m very lucky in my day-to-day role in the Fine Wine team that I get to regularly taste a huge variety of Champagnes, including some very exotic and expensive prestige cuvées. Being so spoilt can make picking what to drink at home a little harder, but I have cracked my fizzy requirements with an absolute beauty from a favourite producer: the exquisite Cuvée de Réserve, Blanc de Blancs from Pierre Peters.
I was first introduced to these exceptional wines by our former Champagne buyer Simon Field MW, who championed the value you can find from grower producers. My damascene moment came when I tasted Pierre Peters for the first time. Having been a complete Pinotphile when it came to Champagne (Pol, Roederer et al), these wowed me with their crystalline purity.
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from some of the best Grand Cru villages, namely Le Mesnil – the HQ for Peters and regarded as the primus inter pares of Chardonnay villages – Oger, Chouilly and Cramant. It’s a gem all year round but sings in summer with its abundance of lemon peel, hazelnut and a little chalky salinity. Perfect for a picnic, or a Tuesday night at home if you’re thirsty. Grab a glass and get stuck in!
Fergus Stewart, Private Account Manager
If you’re looking for more summer inspiration, take a look at Head Chef Stewart Turner’s favourite seasonal canapés here.