Saturday, June 24, 2023

BBQ Wines With A Sicot Surprise Or Two. Matson’s June Tasting Event

BBQ Wines With A Sicot 

Surprise Or Two

Matson’s Grange June Tasting Event

“Expand your wine knowledge, uncover hidden gems, and connect with fellow wine enthusiasts in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.” That was the promise from Matson’s Nicolas Sicot ahead of last week’s June Tasting in their Grange store. 

He certainly came up with six rather special wines to complement your sizzling barbeque and summer dining. And that six included no less than three from highly rated importer Mary Pawle and all three went down very well indeed.

Ready to go at Grange!

Nic started with a surprise, a Sauvignon Blanc from Germany! It was by Hans Bear. Nic had been impressed with the company's Riesling and so asked to try the Sauvignon Blanc and now it's on the Matson shelves. It has aromas of tropical fruit paired with a slight hint of green pepper, fresh and fruity on the palate. “I’m a big fan," said Nic, “…close to a Marlborough or one from the Touraine.” All for eleven euro! One to enjoy as you ease into the BBQ evening.

Next up was Mary Pawle’s Timorasso from Italy’s Colli Tortonesi. This is delicately aromatic, mainly floral. Full-bodied and dry, with melon flavours, it is immediately refreshing on the palate with fresh and herby acidity. “Interesting, super super clean,” enthused Nic. “Quite full-bodied. Good with BBQ scallops or with fresh mackerel also from the BBQ.”

It wouldn't be summer without rosé and Nic had one, not from Provence but from nearby French Catalonia and produced by Domaine Laflage. Very little colour but with aromas of strawberry, raspberry, white grapefruit and orange blossom. It is light-bodied, fresh and clean. Quite a few rosés now on offer here in Matson’s.

The Garciano, via Mary Pawle, was next. The fruit comes from an amazing area, the Bardenas Reales, a semi-desert or badlands in Navarra. The very poor and arid clay-calcareous soil, the dry weather and the big contrast of temperature between the day and the night provide grapes with high concentration and a perfect balance and also offers distinctive character and great expression. Producers Azul y Garanza are organic but go further, planting fruit trees and native aromatic plants around the vineyards.

The fruity and spicy Garnacha (60%) with the “subtle acidity” of the Graciano make a great match as you can sense on the palate where it is quite intense, berry and plum, spicy but smooth and balanced. “Great acidity and soft tannins,” says Nic. “I can see it with lamb chops!”.

On then to the Lignum by Penedes producers Albet Y Noya (who have a long relationship with Mary Pawle). Nic loved its balance and super clean fruit. “It is smooth on the palate.. with just a little hint of the oak.”

The blend is of Xarel-lo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and they come together very well indeed. The winery itself says: There are two sides to this wine. The Sauvignon gives it a perfumed, floral nose. Xarel·lo and Chardonnay together with a hint of oak (where the Chardonnay spends 2 months) give it a little body and complexity in the mouth with a long finish.

GD Vajra, producers of our final wine, the Dolcetto D’Alba, have been farming organically since 1971 but they didn’t get off to the best of starts. Giuseppe, during an April 2002 online masterclass via importers Liberty Wine, said he was dragged away from his soccer games (he was playing too much of it - well he was just 15) to plant his first vineyard. 

He and his current team are still youthful and he is proud of their work. “We hope we get wiser as we go on. We started organically and our first vintage in 1972 was not a good one, not worth ageing!” The whole extended family are at work here in this “multicultural team” near the village of Barolo. Perhaps, that first vintage was a disappointment but there have been many good ones since.

Nicolas Sicot, centre of attention at an earlier tasting in Matson's Bandon store.

“Dolcetto means Little Sweet One,” said Nic. “It is food friendly, including with the BBQ.”

It is not certain that the name originally carried any reference to the grape’s sugar levels which are not notably high. In any case, the wines produced are nearly always dry. Even the hugely experienced Oz Clark admits, in Grapes and Wines, that he hasn’t found a Dolcetto wine that deserves the “little sweet one” tag.

Don't worry too much about it. It, and the other five, certainly fit the bill for the rest of the summer and, hopefully, many more barbeques. Nic certainly kept his promise!

* Nicolas is responsible for the development of wine for the Matson's group, including purchasing, sales, promotion planning, training and marketing.

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