by Laurence McCoy
With the great British summer in full swing it’s time to take every opportunity – between the inevitable showers – to get outdoors and crack a bottle or two in the sun. Al-fresco eating and drinking brings with it a dash of Mediterranean hedonism...and of course the BBQ needs firing up every now and then or it’ll just go rusty.
Taking a bottle of wonderfully aromatic Fillaboa Albarino (£11.49 at M&S) for a stroll into the garden became an inspired experience. This fresh and floral, citrus and honey-streaked gem is summer in a glass, perfectly at home with the birds singing and the sun beating down. Albarino is gradually earning some of the popularity here that it enjoys in Galicia, in north-west Spain, where it is the ideal accompaniment to fish and shellfish.
For a version more akin to the kind of persistent authority of Riesling, Terras Gauda O Rosal (£15.10 at slurp.co.uk includes rare local grapes Loureira and Caino Blanco along with Albarino. The result is piercing and intriguing, with tangy citrus marmalade and a seam of mineral complexity .
Another slightly unusual white wine, simply made for summer, is Vinho Verde, from Portugal. Sprightly and vivacious, with a slight sparkle, its dry, aromatic and flowery verve makes for a great picnic wine, on its own or with seafood and salads. Quinta de Azevedo 2011 (around £7 at Waitrose, Majestic, Oddbins and the Wine Society) is a zippy example.
Summer just wouldn’t be the same without rose. Villa Maria Private Bin Rose (£9.99 at Tesco and Majestic) is floral and fresh, with bright, red fruits and a citrus hint. And Grant Burge bg11 Rose (£6.49 from cheerswinemerchants.co.uk is a bold charmer from Australia, deep, bright pink, full and soft with creamy, strawberry fruit.
If the barby’s on the go a brilliant standby red is Cuvee Richard Vin de Pays de l’Hérault (£5.29 at Majestic), from the sunny south of France, full of warm, inviting, soft fruit flavours.
Bigger and bolder, Jean-Luc Colombo’s Crozes Hermitage Les Fees Brunes 2009 (widely available around £15), is 100 per cent Rhone Valley Syrah left on the grapes to extract the flavours and then aged in oak. It’s full of ripe but restrained red and black fruits and a hint of smoke and pepper. It’s crying out for steak and sausages under a starlit sky!