In this blog, I’m going to continue with my theme from last time: how do you choose which wine to buy? One method I’ve found works well is to buy a different wine from a producer whose wines you’ve enjoyed in the past. Winemakers often have their own preferences which are reflected in the wines they make so, if you’ve enjoyed, for example, a Cabernet Sauvignon from a certain producer, try their Merlot if you see it on the shelf. That way, you can expand your horizons without taking too many risks.
It’s a plan that I used when I was in Majestic Wine recently. We’ve long been fans of Domaine Begude’s ‘Etoile’ Chardonnay (£13.99), a subtle, gently oaked, creamy white from Limoux, just south of Carcassonne at the western edge of France’s Languedoc region. It’s a great value alternative if you like Pouilly-Fuissé! So, when I saw the same estate’s ‘Le Paradis’ Viognier (£15.99), it was an obvious choice.
The Viognier, as you might expect, is a little more aromatic than the Chardonnay with delightful aromas and flavours of peach, ripe pear and melon and a restrained savoury finish. The label tells me that the wine spent time in oak barrels but they seem only to have been used to round out the palate, there is no overt oakiness to taste. We enjoyed it with some red mullet cooked in a rich tomato sauce and the two blended perfectly.
Limoux is not a particularly well-known or fashionable area but Domaine Begude is beautifully situated some 300m (1000ft) above sea level giving that ideal balance of hot sunny days for ripening the grapes and cooler nights to retain vital acidity. It’s owned by an English couple, who bought it back in 2003 and now run it on entirely organic lines using no pesticides and only natural manures and fertilisers.
The results are clear to see (and to taste) whether you choose the Chardonnay, the Viognier or one of their other varietal wines that – subtle hint – hopefully, Majestic will stock at some future date.