Wine to Dine – April 2023 – Tony Singh

Wine columnist James Robertson selects five bottles to pair with Tony Singh’s dishes.

ONCE you’ve read Tony Singh’s recipes in the April issue of Scottish Field magazine, check out the full reviews of James Robertson’s matching wines…

Kühling-Gillot Nierstein Riesling, Trocken, 2016, Justerini & Brooks (£17.50)
All the right combinations of fruit, acidity, and body to match the rich, savoury flavours of the slow roast pork belly. This Riesling comes from the biodynamic vineyards in the Northern Rheinhessen, nestled by the river on red slate soil between the villages of Nackenheim and Oppenheim. For more than 200 years, this estate has been run by the same family but under different names as it has been handed down the family’s female side. The grapes are hand harvested and then spontaneously fermented for up to three days. All the wines are vinified in large 1,200-litre wooden barrels, staying on their lees until they are bottled. This wine being a Trocken is dry with a floral, citrus note on the nose. Even though it is now seven years old, there is a wonderful freshness, balance, richness, and elegant fruit on the finish. With all the work that goes into a wine like this, one wonders at the price per bottle. Enjoy it now but it has the abilty to age even longer.

Sancerre Les Ruettes, 2020, Marks & Spencer (£16)
There is something magical about Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, especially pairing it with this dish of beetroot, polenta, and goat’s cheese. Located in the middle of the Loire, amazingly the medieval hill top town of Sancerre was principally known for wine made from Pinot Noir until the vines were lost to phylloxera in the later part of the 19th century. The vineyards were replanted with Sauvignon Blanc, gaining an AOC status in 1936. The limestone and clay hills are a natural combination for Sauvignon Blanc to thrive, so now Sancerre is more synonymous with white wine, although Pinot Noir is still made here. This example is a great example of Sancerre with classic lemon peel, gooseberry, and grapefruit notes, with a hint of minerality on the finish.

Musar Jeune Red, 2020, Villeneuve Wines (£15)
A delicious, rustic red that will balance well with the spice of the onions, aloo pakora bhaji and of course the wonderful lamb burgers. This is one of the entry wines from Château Musar in the Bekka Valley, Lebanon. Even as civil war raged, the enigmatic Serge Hochar worked on creating incredible wines often with missiles flying over the vineyards. He was inspired by the wines of Bordeaux and – although he died far too early back in 2015 – his legacy lives on with wines like the Jeune. The combination of Cinsault, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon provides the wine with a black cherry, plum, and summer pudding note, with a lovely freshness to it.

Château Clamens Negrette-Syrah, 2020, St Andrew’s Wine Company (£13.95)
For the rich, sumptuous confit of duck legs and gratin this full-bodied wine is a perfect foil to match the various flavours of the dish. Château Clamens is a family estate of 25 hectares, located in the Fronton appellation, 30km north of Toulouse. The soil is made up of boulbènes clay and clay soils of the ancient terraces of the Tarn; combine that with more than 2,000 hours of sunshine per year, relatively cool nights and a low but regular rainfall and it provides everything that the winemaker needs to make elegant wines. Half of this wine is from Negrette, almost exclusively grown in this region. A very dark-skinned grape that has the suppleness to be drunk young but the potential for medium-term ageing.

Avallen Planet Positive Calvados, Harvey Nicholls (£35)
A chilled glass with this brilliant calvados is a marriage made in heaven with this cracking pear tart tatin, with its golden caramel topping. Made from 40 varieties of apple from 300 orchards entirely from the West of Normandy. After distillation the apples are aged for two years in French oak barrels before being bottled with no added sugar, caramel or boisé. The other difference with this calvados is the fact that it is bottled in a paper bottle, which has less than a fifth of the carbon footprint of the previous bottle. Alongside this, Avallen donates to organisations to protect bees and allow them to thrive. The calvados itself has a wonderful fresh apple note on the nose, which is hardly a surprise. However, when you taste it, there are a myriad of flavours ranging from toffee, apples, pear drops, and Turkish delight. Excellent on its own or mixed with tonic water.

Read more of James’ reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.