Wine to Dine – September 2022 – Ballintaggart

In his final Wine to Dine column, drinks writer Peter Ranscombe recommends five bally good bottles for Ballintaggart.

“THERE’S been a murder!” – oh no, wait, wrong Taggart.

Rather than the crusty Glasgae cop, we’re talking about the recipes from Ballintaggart, which featured in the food feature in the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.

There are some really exciting ingredients on show in those dishes, from venison through to scallops.

As summer turns to autumn, we also need some transition wines to match these September recipes.

Prepare yourselves for a light red with a bit of grip, a pink fizz that’s anything but ordinary, and a port with some excellent Scottish connections.

Why drink Prosecco when you can enjoy this vibrant, beef tartare taming organic pink fizz from North-East Italy for just a tenner? Like Prosecco, it’s made with the glera grape, so it’s got similar freshness, but here there’s some black raboso grapes added to the blend, bringing that pink hue. There are inviting aromas of strawberry and clean sheets on the nose, leading into more strawberry and raspberry on the palate to balance the fresh acidity, with a touch of strawberries and cream on the finish. With beef tartare, a light red could work equally as well, but I want to capture the final days of summer with this great-value sparkler.

Naked Wines
Sticking with North-East Italy, and this lesser-known red will slice through the richness of our venison wellington. That game could handle many of the big nebbiolo- or sangiovese-based blockbuster reds from North-West Italy, but I’m opting for the other coast and a lighter red that’s ideal for celebrating September’s shoulder of summer into autumn. Bardolino often sits in the shadow of more-famous neighbour Valpolicella, but winemaker Marica Bonomo’s example demonstrates why it’s worthy of attention in its own right. All the red cherry and spun sugar flavours you could ever desire, plus enough tannic backbone to ride alongside the venison.

Fresh and fruity South Africa chenin blanc at its very best – and an ideal match for that cured salmon. This is sensationally good value when you take into account the skilful balance between the crisp acidity and the concentrated classic green apple and peach flavours. Cured salmon often sends me reaching for a bottle of sauvignon blanc, but chenin is a superb alternative, especially when there’s enough fruit to balance its acidity. In South Africa, this style of chenin is also a favourite with fresh salmon sushi, adding to its food-and-wine pairing credentials. Boschendal is one of WWF’s conservation champions and so also keeps one eye on the environment.

The Wine Society
Spoil those baked scallops with a bottle of Champagne that offers superb value – you’re paying for the liquid, not the brand name. Made by the CRVC co-operative, Castelnau’s flagship brut reserve spends five years ageing on its lees – the dead yeast left over from the second bubble-creating fermentation – which helps to build up its rich texture and bread-like flavours. Don’t panic though; there’s still tonnes of freshness here to pair perfectly with seafood, along with concentrated flavours of red apple, lemon rind, brown sugar, toasted nuts, and those posh brioche rolls that seem to be putting up on every supermarkets’ shelves at the moment.

Leith Export Company
From those clever people who brought you Lind & Lime gin, indulge in this chocolate tart tickling tawny port. Lind & Lime’s new bigger gin distillery on Leith’s Coburg Street is also home to The Leith Export Company’s shop, where it sells its port, sherry, and now Champagne. There’s no comparison between this quality tawny and the sub-£10 options on the supermarket shelves – this exploded with tonnes of red cherry, raspberry, spun sugar, caramel, and orange peel on the nose, and then a twist of chewy tannin on the palate to balance its raspberry jam, milk chocolate, caramel, and spun sugar flavours. Classy stuff.

In case you missed it, catch-up on last month’s wines to match the recipes from The Shetland Chef.

Plus, read more of Peter’s wine, beer, and spirits reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain