Savour the joy of the new vintage

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Related tags: Sauvignon blanc, Wine

Now is the time to promote the new wine vintage. The first bottles of 2002 are already here and this creates a great opportunity for showing new wine...

Now is the time to promote the new wine vintage. The first bottles of 2002 are already here and this creates a great opportunity for showing new wine areas, many of which offer outstanding value for money. There is no need to wait for the traditional European harvest to arrive in bottled form, usually led by Beaujolais Nouveau. The northern hemisphere has just completed its grape harvest. In Europe and California, thousands of British holidaymakers will have seen vineyards on their holidays but stocks are unlikely to be here before early November. Instead, use the autumn to introduce new 2002 wines from "down under". Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is just such a wine: a crisp dry white with a gooseberry aroma and lovely acidity which makes a splendid aperitif as well as to serve with shellfish. Sainsbury's already have four, of which Montana and Sanctuary (both £5.99) from Marlborough are stunning. Avoid the duller Oyster Bay and Shingle Peak. Chile is a less expensive source of Sauvignon Blanc. However, it is vital to taste first. Sadly Casablanca, using a clear glass which suggests a sweet wine, has an oily rather unclean character. The really spicy aromas of Gewurztraminer, which many describe as lychees, can be enjoyed young. Try a Chilean example like Sierra Los Andes which comes mainly from the Curico district with pate and other rich fare. Made by Maria del Pillar Gonzalez, stocks are expected early November. If the idea of promoting an organic wine from the new harvest sounds attractive, there are several. A Sauvignon Blanc from Western Cape in South Africa with no crushing and only gentle destalking of the grapes, is just such a wine. As it is usually unoaked, all the flavour of the grape comes through. Australia achieved one of the better vintages in 2002. Look at the delicious Chardonnay of Burra Brook, sourced in Sunraysia and Murray River Valley (Marks & Spencer £4.99) or Heemskerk Sauvignon Blanc from Pipers River in Tasmania. Ensure both are chilled. They can be enjoyed just by the glass but in the Chardonnay case will accompany poultry dishes well. Argentina is a source still little seen in the UK. Viognier ­ a mayflower-scented dry white ­ grows well in its intensely warm climate. Look for Santa Julia 2002. The new harvest is not confined to whites. Shiraz is a peppery red ­ delicious with beef and game dishes ­ and can be enjoyed young. Milton Grove is a fruity example from South Africa whilst a blend with Pinotage is shipped under the Leopards Leap label, again from South Africa. Merlot is one of the world's most popular reds for its easy drinking supple quality. A new vintage from Australia under the Burra Brook label uses 86% Merlot with Shiraz and Cabernet to make up the balance. One idea for the black board or a tent card would be to compare two 2002 wines from the same grape but from different countries. Australian Shiraz ­ such as Twin Wells from McLaren Vale ­ should be in stores and with wine merchants by now, and would make for an exciting duo with a South African example.

Related topics: Wine

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