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CITYLIFE /food & drink.

Byline: Wine with Andy Cronshaw

WOOD, or more precisely oak, can make or break a wine.

It's an integral part of many and some, such as sherry or tawny port, couldn't be made without it.

White wines matured in oak or barrel fermented gain weight and character that can make them sublime. Burgundy, Rioja and South African Chenin Blanc are all fine examples.

It makes them the perfect companions for anything smoked, from haddock to cheese.

Oak can be a 'silent partner' in some wines, adding flavour without being obvious in the final product.

In some Bordeaux and Rioja it's one of the most important dimensions.

A total absence of oak is important for some wines too, such as the majority of Beaujolais.

KWV CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY 2017 (PS11 CO-OP) The Co-op has a wonderful knack of stocking bottles you can bag at a moment's notice for a midweek treat or a dinner party.

This is a nice example of the precision and attention to detail typical of KWV.

Chardonnay grapes from five different areas of the Western Cape are blended, left on the lees for 80 days and matured for six months in oak barriques.

Importantly a small proportion of unoaked Chardonnay is added and it gives the wine a lift, bringing freshness.

There are classic Chardonnay aromas with a hazelnut background spiked by orange and lime citrus.

The palate is textured and creamy but a fresh citrus seam pairs with nice acidity to make this a superb food wine.

Roast chicken or risotto are its natural partners.

VIDAL RESERVE PINOT NOIR MARLBOROUGH 2017 (PS17.55 www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk, Wine World, Sissinghurst Wines, Cambridge Wine Merchants, www.drinkshop.com) Pinot is a delicate, sensual grape which doesn't like too much oak. BUT here the balance is just right. The fruit, grown in Marlborough where Sauvignon Blanc is queen, is put in French oak for 11 months. THE effect is subtle and barely noticeable but it does help integrate the flavours. There's soft spices and a floral perfume to the cherry aromas while the palate is juicy and vibrant.

ONE for duck, game or roasted vegetables.

El Viaje de RamoON RESERVA 50 CL 2014 (Pictured, PS7 Co-op) A crackling addition to the Co-op's new 50cl range.

This is an example of a Rioja with an oak aspect that is intense but delicious.

The wine is made from parcels in Rioja Alta and aged for 18 months in American oak barriques and then placed in barrel for a further 18 months. It's full-on experience that lovers of traditional Rioja will enjoy.

However it's big on fruit intensity which is not something all reservas aspire toward.

I'm not the biggest fan of American oak but I loved this wine. There's a big hit of vanilla, blackcurrant, tobacco, cloves and dark chocolate on the nose.

The palate is fairly weighty and fruit-driven but there's elegance too.

A brilliant wine for a steak or to sip next to the fire.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Date:Apr 12, 2019
Words:497
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