Some wines to celebrate early spring - Richard Esling March 9

In the words of Victor Hugo, ‘Here come the long days, the light, love, delight! Here comes spring! March and April, with their sweet smile’.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 3:50 pm
Wines for early spring SUS-210803-150425001

If you take the meteorological timing of the seasons, spring started on March 1, a concept with which I tend to agree, despite the cold weather of the last few days. Astronomical spring doesn’t start until March 20 – far too late in my mind and by the amount of birdsong, they would be of the same opinion.

On the subject of weather, we tend to forget the difficulty this can pose for wine producers. We buy a bottle of wine, look at the vintage (or not), pour out a glass and enjoy the flavours, with little thought of the often-traumatic times the producers and wine-makers have endured to make your glass of wine. Audrey Braccini, winemaker and manager at Domaine Ferret in the Pouilly Fuissé region of southern Burgundy, knows only too well the problems posed by the weather every year.

With International Women’s Day celebrated on Monday of this week, Domaine Ferret Pouilly Fuissé 2018 epitomises the dedication and struggles often necessary to produce high quality wine. 2018 was a tumultuous year in terms of weather. Starting with seemingly never-ending rain in the winter months, the summer turned out to be one of the hottest in decades. This in itself is a major problem, since the grapes stop producing sugar, lack juice and stop ripening in such extreme conditions, leaving poor Audrey ironically praying for rain!

Thankfully, through a combination of cooling weather and careful vineyard management for the harvest, since grapes were ripening at different times in different parts of the vineyard, the vintage was saved and the courageous choices made during the year have resulted in a wine full of elegance, tension and generosity. £33.60 from North & South Wines, The Vineking or Fareham Wine Cellar.

Still celebrating women winemakers, on the other side of the globe, Debbie Lauritz is the winemaker for Robert Oatley Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. The wine comes from the Margaret River region of Western Australia, which climatically, is one of Australia’s most reliable wine regions and ideally suited to Bordeaux varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Contrary to Pouilly Fuissé, the growing season was excellent, allowing the grapes to be harvested at ideal tannin and flavour ripeness.

After fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barrels for between 12 and 15 months, giving a full-flavoured, yet finely structured Cabernet. Black fruit character on the palate, with blackcurrant leaf aromas and some light cedar notes. Supple tannins and good length on the finish for this very appealing wine. £15.99 for the 2018 vintage from Ocado. Other vintages may be available from certain branches of the Co-op.