Grape-based Treats for the Glorious Twelfth

By on August 5th, 2022 in Blog
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Friday 12th August heralds the Glorious Twelfth, the day when traditionally Grouse shooting begins (vegans and vegetarians, apologies! Please look away now). So in light of this time-honoured tradition, this week we will explore an unashamedly meat-based theme. Game. It may be a little more expensive than farmed equivalents, but then it’s often a lot more sustainable and can be appreciably tastier. Because it’s lean and flavourful, game meat requires wine pairings with a little more thought than your usual matches. Strong umami (savoury) flavours need to be counterbalanced with ripe fruit. A certain earthiness or nuttiness in the wine marries well with similar characteristics in the food. As always, the structure of the wine is important, as is a certain elegance. So whether it is of the feathered or hooved variety, we have the pairing to suit.

game meat for the blog

A white that does it all

We start with a white wine that’s as robust and powerful as it is elegant and unique. Ximinez Spinola Fermentación Lenta is like nothing else you’ve ever tried. Ximinez Spinola has been making wine from just one variety, Pedro Ximines, since 1792(!). Normally the variety is used for sweet sherry. Here the winemaker uses a combination of maceration on its skins (normally only done for red wines) and the addition of grape must (juice) to lengthen the fermentation which is completed to dryness. It’s got cherries, plums, apple pie, vanilla, capsicum, lemons, cooked strawberries, bruised pear, apricot and old books. This wine is mystifying and glorious and odd and extraordinary in equal measure. Pair it with anything – venison, wild boar, pigeon, pheasant, grouse, guinea fowl – you’ll be blown away. 

glorious ximinez spinola fermentacion lenta


A pink fizz that cuts through

From the arid, chalky soils of Andalucia to the decidedly less arid, but no less chalky soils of Hampshire. Black Chalk is a relative newcomer to the English sparkling wine scene but has established itself amongst the very best. Jacob, head winemaker and founder started by purchasing grapes and making award-winning wines in a rented winery. Since 2020 the team have had their winery and vineyards from which they continue to create award-winning wines. Black Chalk Wild Rose has that elusive quality of being both delicate and characterful at the same time. Flavours of redcurrant, rhubarb, raspberry, peaches and cream lemons and green apples give it enough of a fruity punch to work with food. Especially those berry-led sauces that work so well with the game. A pleasing brioche background, a little nuttiness and great acidity keep the finish long and compliment the fruit flavours a treat. Delightful.

blakc chalk wild rose glorious


A delicate red with strength in depth

Next, an old favourite for game pairings is Pinot Noir. Rully is certainly not the most revered of Burgundian regions but that only means one thing here – value for money! Domaine Jaeger-Defaix Rully Clos de Chapitre Premier Cru, as the somewhat lengthy title suggests, is a Premier Cru. Meaning it’s from some of the best vineyard sites the region has to offer. Hélène Jaeger-Defaix went fully organic some years ago and treats her grapes with reverential respect. Like all the best Pinots it has a predominance of red berry fruit which plays against some darker cherry and plum flavours. Smokey, toasty, leathery elements add depth along with a good hit of cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of dark chocolate. Balancing acidity levels keep things fresh while the tannins are low but silky smooth. Glorious paired with darker meat, you’ll want to keep drinking this well after the plates have been cleared.

Perfection in a bottle

Rarely does a wine evoke the words ‘masterful’, ‘glorious’ and ‘oh gosh’ in the tasting team’s initial tasting notes. Peter Franus is a total hero. How he manages to produce wine of this quality for this price is nothing short of a mystery. Let’s be honest. It ain’t cheap, but oh my goodness, it’s incredible. To use a car analogy, he’s making Rolls Royces for Mercedes money. Ok, you have to accept you’ll be dropping £30-£60 for his wines but we’re not sure you can drink better for £300-£600. Put simply, if you want to taste Merlot in its purest and most masterfully vinified form, either buy Peter Franus Wine Napa Valley Merlot or remortgage your house and buy a bottle of Chateau Petrus. We are not joking. It’s that good. No need to list flavour profiles. One word describes this wine. Perfect (and it pairs amazingly with game too)

peter franus napa valley merlot glorious wine