A lot of rebound: great wines for Easter chocolate | Wine
Kourtaki Cameo Mavrodaphne from Patras, Greece NV (£6.95, Waitrose) For pagans like me, next Sunday is mostly a chocolate party day. And while this skewed sense of priority might not be as prevalent in southern Europe, that’s where you’ll find the styles of wine that are among the best things to drink with the annual cocoa glut: soft fortified reds. This is a much less popular style than it once was, with many producers in some of the more famous fortified red wine regions increasingly looking to produce more fashionable dry red wines from grapes they once used for their fortified styles. In many cases, dry wines are just as good as their fortified cousins. You could, for example, have a wonderful Easter Sunday meal made from the Greek mavrodaphne grape, with the fresh cherry and baking spice of Sant’Or Krãsis dry 2020 (£22, oliveology.co.uk) taking care lamb, and Kourtaki’s sweet fig cameo paired with chocolate.
Niepoort Unfiltered LBV Port, Douro, Portugal 2015 (from £19.95, slurp.co.uk; honestgrapes.co.uk) Greek-born Maria Moutsou, UK importer of Krãsis and a range of other low-production character Greek wines through her small business Southern Wine Roads, compares the ‘thick-skinned’ mavrodaphne ‘with blue hues to another grape variety from southern Europe. , albeit the opposite, western side of Southern Europe: the Portuguese touriga nacional. Like mavrodaphne, touriga nacional is responsible, usually as part of a blend, for making sweet, fortified (port) wines and, in recent years especially, structured but refined dry red wines in the spectacular terraced vineyards. which run along the Douro River just east of Porto. One of the producers most qualified to make both styles is Dirk Van der Niepoort, the fifth generation to run a family business started by Niepoort’s Dutch ancestors in 1842. For an Easter double Niepoort, you can start with the red Super succulent dry Drink Me Douro Tinto 2020 (£16, noblegreenwines.co.uk) for the lamb and move on to the mature velvety richness of LBV Port.
M Chapoutier Domaine Bila-Haut Rimage Banyuls, France 2020 (From £16.75, 50cl, farehamwinecellar.com; secretbottleshop.co.uk; noblegreenwines.co.uk) The great French center for sweet fortified red wines is in Roussillon, the Catalan corner of southern France just over the border with Spain. Here, it is the Grenache grape variety which plays the main role, its qualities of resistance to wind and drought, its late maturity perfectly adapted to the local climate, where the summer sun can be merciless and the tramontana seep under the skin. Falling demand for fortified wines in recent decades has forced the hand of local producers, whose dramatic, intensely flavored dry red wines have caught the attention of winemakers elsewhere in France, including Rhône producer Michel Chapoutier, curious and adventurous. At his Bila-Haut estate, Chapoutier focuses primarily on dry red (and white) wines, but he remains true to local fortified traditions. For a Chapoutier Easter meal, the M Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Rouge 2020 (£9.99, noblegrape.co.uk) does the savory tasks; Banyuls black forest flavor takes care of the chocolate.
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