Wine columnist Peter Ranscombe forages for five favourites to back-up the Buck & Birch recipes in the June issue of Scottish Field magazine.
IT’S a tale of two malbecs this month.
Argentina’s all-conquering red is a favourite with steak, yet the best examples are versatile and a good match for many game dishes too.
The Buck & Birch pigeon recipe in the June issue of Scottish Field magazine – out now in print and online – got me thinking about the awesome organic Gaia malbec.
Meanwhile, Zuccardi’s fortified version is an oddity, but a very enjoyable oddity.
Also matching the foraged fayre from Buck & Birch are an albarino, one of the best-value reds from the South of France that I’ve tried in ages, plus a jaw-droppingly impressive Champagne.
BRUNO PAILLARD ASSEMBLAGE BRUT VINTAGE 2012
Celebrate simple ingredients like garlic and mushrooms with a splash-out family-made Champagne that’s worth every single penny. Few smells can rival garlic and mushrooms sizzling in a pan – perhaps with a wee bit of butter and some onions or shallots too – except perhaps a well-made Champagne like those gastronomic examples from Bruno Paillard. I was blown away by the balance in the 2012 vintage, with classic red apple and brown sugar flavours to merge with its acidity, plus lovely toasty notes already developing too.
DOMAINE BOUSQUET GAIA MALBEC 2019
£11.99 to 17 May then £16.99
An organic malbec from Argentina’s high-altitude Gualtallary Valley with a wing full of freshness that will fly alongside the pigeon. I was so impressed with the freshness of this malbec that I was convinced there was a dash of cabernet franc in there too, but I’m reassured by the winemaker that it’s 100% malbec. Well worth the full price, but an absolute steal when it’s on special offer. Classic and vibrant malbec raspberry and blackcurrant flavours, plus enough structure to support the pigeon. It’s that freshness that will help to cut through the posh cabbage too.
MARIUS BY M CHAPOUTIER 2020
Rhone legend Michel Chapoutier created this superb value blend of syrah and grenache further along the coast in the Languedoc. Chapoutier is no slouch when it comes to the label’s Rhone wines, with some of its entry-level examples representing excellent value in their own right. This “indication géographique protégée” (IGP) wine – the modern incarnation of the former “vin de pays” French regional wines – from the neighbouring Langyedoc region takes the concept of “value” to a whole new level though. It wears its 14% alcohol by volume very lightly, and I was really impressed with its fresh acidity, red fruit-led flavours, and ripe yet well-integrated tannins for venison.
BODEGAS CASTRO MARTIN FAMILY ESTATE ALBARINO
The Fine Wine Company
A fresh salad with a duck egg and elderberries or capers calls for an equally fresh wine white like this Spanish albarino. Castro Martin’s albarinos have featured in this column a couple of times over the years – the label’s wines are reliable favourites on restaurant wine lists and independent bottle shop shelves. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Spain’s Galicia region – the bit that sticks out on top of Portugal – always reminds me of our own west coast in Scotland, but with Rías Baixas or “low estuaries” instead of sea lochs. Its albarino wines are great with seafood, and there’s an almost oily texture to Castro Martin’s family estate version that will work well even with egg yolk. This particular bottles happens to go well with Spanish hams too.
MALAMADO FORTIFIED MALBEC
“It’s malbec, Jim, but not as we know it” – fortified like Port, this Argentinian curiosity from winemaker Sebastian Zuccardi has the sweetness to match parkin’s ginger or hogweed seeds. Zuccardi’s mainstream malbecs have become yardsticks for the country’s flagship red grape and that same reliability is on display in this sweet version too. Bright blackcurrant and black cherry on the nose are joined by vanilla and milk chocolate on the palate. Yet there’s still enough freshness to stop the whole ensemble from becoming too cloying and sticky.
In case you missed it, catch-up on last month’s wines to match the outdoor cooking from Ruaridh Emslie
Plus, read more of Peter’s wine, beer, and spirits reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain