Desert Island wine
Not for the first time recently I was asked what my favourite wine is. My answer is always the same: I don`t have one. I love them all – variety the spice of life. However, if I was on my desert island with one wine region only to draw from, it would be The Rhone Valley. In part, no doubt, this is because I spent some years there in my late teens, when I first fell in love with wine. There is a certain nostalgia which is very real for me. But also it is because I love the purity of the Syrah grape, responsible for the reds of northern Rhone; and I equally adore the hedonism of southern Rhone wines with their mostly Grenache-dominant blends. We have some wonderful examples of both styles in our shop, not least the wines by Michel Chapoutier and Yann Chave. Our most popular is the savoury-rich Seguret by Boutinot. Also, in magnum, Cairanne by Boutinot, this being the best of the Rhone village wines with deliciously open spicy fruits. Some of the top red appellations of northern Rhone, such as Cote Rotie, Cornas and Hermitage, are expensive – grown on steep slopes of decomposed granite they are a real treat for that special occasion with lamb, beef or game; reds to decant and serve with reverence. We also rate as comparable Domaine du Tunnel `St Joseph` (100% Syrah), fabulous with steak. And from the south, there is the magnificently rich, yet fresh, Domaine Lafond `Chateauneuf-du-Pape`. Another: Domaine La Bouissiere `Gigondas`, long time favourite in the shop. These southern Rhone beauties, muscular and peppery, are typically enjoyed in France with beef and lentil casseroles, as well as the cheeses which inevitably follow. Finally, there`s straightforward Cotes du Rhone Villages. Ours, another by Boutinot, has fresh red fruits and in our house typically partners lamb chops or charcuterie. Within it is the spirit of Rhone, at £11.99 a fine example.