WINE One Foot in the Grapes Wine column with journalist Jane Clare... I peeped in my diary to see if there was any wine fun around the corner for May. Well there is - there’s also two Bank Holidays and a Royal Wedding. Now I like Bank Holidays and I’m sure Meghan will be very beautiful and lots of people will be cheering but I’ll be more interested in watching the FA Cup. In the wine world there are three days of note coming up in May. One is Moscato Day on May 9; another is International Chardonnay Day on May 23; and the third is International Sauvignon Blanc Day on May 4. I bet some of you wags will be walking around saying May The 4th Be With You but personally I’ll just be drinking wine. The sauvignon blanc and chardonnay days are apt, as I wanted to share some wines from my visit to New Zealand winery Villa Maria, which has just been voted one of the most admired wine brands in the world. I was pretty giddy the day I visited the Villa Maria winery just outside Auckland. There I was, thousands of miles away meeting the people behind wines I’ve seen so many times on shelves back home in the UK. Oh, and I had a chance to taste the wines too. I’m nothing if not predictable. VIlla Maria’s Auckland base is an intriguing place. We drove through a typical urban industrial estate very close to Auckland International Airport and then suddenly a driveway appeared leading down to a green oasis. The winery is set inside a 20,000 year-old volcanic crater (don’t worry it’s extinct, I was perfectly safe). It is a wonderful amphitheatre which not only grows grapes which create award-winning wines, but also holds the occasional concert. Tom Jones has wiggled his hips here. Senior Auckland Winemaker David Roper is a one-time microbiologist who decided the science of wine was more to his taste and he led me through a tasting of 18 wines. Well, someone’s got to do it. Here’s some of them – I’ve chosen a handful of Villa Maria sauvignon blanc and chardonnay wines (and a final added extra thrown in). Villa Maria Private Bin Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (RRP £11.75, Morrisons, Fareham Wine Cellar, New Zealand House of Wine, Amazon) This is a pretty little wine, appealing to those people who like a drop of prosecco, but it isn’t hyper on the bubbles. The clue is in the “lightly sparkling”; grapefruit and lime aromas zing from the glass. This wine would be really nice for summer. Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 18 In Brief Villa Maria Private Bin Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (RRP £15.95, Majestic Wine, Asda) There are two valleys in Marlborough, which is in the north east corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Each produces its own sauvignon blanc signature notes. The Wairau Valley is north (around the town of Blenheim) and wines typically have tropical fruit notes, whereas Awatere Valley wines, to the south of the region, are more herbaceous and grassy. This wine had a delicious lift of passionfruit, gooseberry and grapefruit with a racy acidity. Villa Maria Reserve Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (RRP £15.95, Sainsbury) Well this vintage has picked up several gold awards in New Zealand and it was easy to see why. It is a blend of grapes from vineyard blocks known for delivering pungent aromatics which are typical of the cooler Awatere Valley, influenced by the Pacific Ocean. The wine had 4-6 weeks resting on the lees to add texture to the palate. Limes, herbs, grass and blackcurrant leaf. Villa Maria Cellar Selection Chardonnay 2016 (RRP £14.90 New Zealand House of Wine) Mmmm, lovely. A buttery chardonnay with pineapple, guava, peaches and cardamom notes. Some of the fruit is hand-picked, all of it is fermented in barrel (with Jane Clare is a journalist who has followed her heart with the launch of One Foot in the Grapes - writing about wine and offering fun, immersive, informal and informative wine tastings. The former editor and creative editorial director first began writing about wine 10 years ago and is now published in more than 30 newspapers and lifestyle magazines across the UK. Jane is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and is studying for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma. She can be found as One Foot in the Grapes on social media and online; or contact Jane on 07795 121 003 or email email@example.com a small amount of wild fermentation) and the final blend is aged in oak for eight months. Here’s an added extra! Its not chardonnay or sauvignon blanc but I really enjoyed it. Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Gris 2017 (RRP £13.85, The Co-op) Well this is unusual and I'm so pleased it can be bought here in the UK. Sauvignon gris is a grape which has its home in Bordeaux. My notes described it like this: Tropical fruit, mango and lychees, with a good creamy weight from the wine sitting on the lees for a few months. Have a fantastic May exploring new wines and I’ll see you in June Jane runs wine tastings - she prefers to say wine-tertainment - in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire.
QUIZ In Brief Quiz Round 1: pot pourri 1 What do the initials of the medical investigation PET scan stand for? 2 Which real-life Disney character is buried, appropriately enough, in Gravesend? 3 Who in 2017 was buried next to Marylin Monroe? 4 Which country in 2016 elected as its president a man whose nickname is derived from a fictional San Francisco policeman played in three films by Clint Eastwood? 5 In which now largely outmoded piece of meteorological equipment would you f ind a Toricellean vacuum? 6 In American politics, what is a faithless elector? 7 Who was said, when executed for treason in 1916 after an imaginative interpretation of the Treason Act 1351, to have been “hanged on a comma”? 8 What has the French car company Peugeot manufactured continuously since 1842? Round 2: hidden theme All answers share a common theme. The words of the theme may be all or part of one of the words, or the only word, of the answer. First and surnames are required where appropriate. 9 Which British poet, winner of the Nobel prize for literature, wrote the lines “The tumult and the shouting dies / The captains and the kings depart”? 10 What was the name of the Greek goddess of harvest and agriculture? 11 Which actor, comedian and writer came to fame as a character in a children’s TV series and is now, amongst other things, the chairman of a long-running BBC radio panel game? 12 Which Australian was the first actor to win a posthumous Oscar, for best actor in 1977? 13 Which leading politician was, perhaps unfairly, nicknamed Worzel Gummidge? 14 A Sherlock Holmes short story centres around a man who applies for, and gets, employment copying pages from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a job for which he is eligible by reason of a particular physical characteristic. What is the title of the story? 15 Which German-born British scientist was one of three joint winners of the Nobel prize for medicine in 1945, awarded for work on penicillin? 16 Which character from an American sitcom, which ran for ten years from 1994, shares his surname with a Microsoft web site? Round 3 – pairs 17 On a musical score, what does the marking “Sul G” mean? 18 On a musical score, what does the marking “Col Legno” mean? 19 What inscription appears on the brass letterbox of 10 Downing Street? 20 Whose epitaph reads “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice”? 21 The lyrics to which long-running TV comedy series’ theme song begin “It’s cold outside”? 22 The lyrics to which long-running TV comedy series’ theme song begin “Hey baby I hear the blues a-callin’”? 23 In which opera do the characters Donna Anna, Donna Elvira and the Commendatore appear? 24 In which opera do the characters Tamino, Pamina and the Queen of The Night appear? 25 What word, now the name of a giant IT company, was introduced into the English language by Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver’s Travels? 26 What word was introduced to physics in 1963 by Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1969? He took the word, though not its pronunciation, from James Joyce. 27 What is the derivation of the word used to describe the assembly of cardinals which elects a new Pope? 28 A Pope may appoint a cardinal “in pectore”. What does this signify? 29 After whom is a dish of eggs, cream and smoked haddock or other white fish named? It may have other ingredients, such as béchamel. 30 After whom is a dessert of vanilla ice cream, peaches and raspberry sauce named? 31 Who walked out of a TV interview after being described by the interviewer, Robin Day, as “a here today, gone tomorrow politician”? 32 Which actor walked out of a BBC radio 4 interview shortly after being accused of adopting an Irish accent for the character he had recently played in a film? Questions set by kikashi. Send your answers to the Editor - firstname.lastname@example.org First to send in correct answers will receive a bottle of wine.