FOOD & DRINK; Neil Cammies STRAIGHT OFF THE VINE.
A COMPLETELY self-indulgent column this week - I can almost hear the astonished gasps! It's my birthday next week and due to the ludicrous timing of New Year, I was unable to eulogise about my favourite bottles of fizz for new decade celebrations. I will be opening a bottle of bubbles, more in consolation these days, for the passing of another of my years. Oh, and I suppose there's always Valentine's Day.
The usual suspects should be mentioned and in particular a great foodie Champagne, the VEUVE CLICQUOT YELLOW LABEL DEMI SEC NV (RRP pounds 33.50 www.everywine.co.uk, Harrods, Harvey Nichols). On the nose deep, bready base with a real clementine edge. Miniscule bubbles amble to the surface. On the palate a rich attack from the higher dosage of sugar, but the minerality and the floral notes stop the wine becoming stuck. A mixed plate of small chocolate puddings would fit the bill perfectly. A mention must also be made to the normally-aspirated VEUVE CLICQUOT YELLOW LABEL NV (RRP pounds 32.99 widely available), that I thought of late was getting a little flabby and unfocussed. But a recent tasting has revealed it's back on track with the classical toasty, pinot-noir dominated chap, that we all know and love.
And for a drop of New World fizz the ever-reliable Australian giant WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL ROSe 2009 (RRP pounds 9.99, Tesco, Co-Op and www.gondola.co.uk) is a lively aperitif full of red berry fruitiness. Neil Cammies STRAIGHT OFF THE VINE My surprising affinity with the bright MOET (pronounced MO-ET, you've been told!) & CHANDON NV (RRP pounds 29.99, widely available) continues with its youthful citrus hit on the palate, making it fun party fare. Continuing with Champagne the LAURENT-PERRIER NV (RRP pounds 29.99, Fine Wines Direct, Cardiff and wine merchants and supermarkets) is a particularly friendly easy-drinking fizz, containing a large percentage of chardonnay, especially for a non-vintage, that delivers a heady full-fruit punch and soft acidity. Also its dumpy-bottled, iconic cousin LAURENT-PERRIER ROSe NV (on offer at pounds 34.99, Fine Wines Direct, Cardiff) should bring a smile to anyone's face with its refreshing raspberry entry and toasty brioche mid palate.
Moving to Spain, I recently enjoyed the SAINSBURY'S TASTE THE DIFFERENCE VINTAGE CAVA 2008 (pounds 7.99, Sainsbury's), a properly-made sparkler by the Codorniu stable, using chardonnay alongside Spanish varieties xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada.
Any wine-related queries? Get in touch at email@example.com and follow my blog on http://blogs.walesonline.co.uk/lifestyle BREW VIEW Brian Glover BETTY STOGS With a nerve-shredding game ahead in Scotland, perhaps it's time to take refuge in fairy stories. Like Wales will win easily. Or Betty Stogs. She was a slovenly Cornish woman who neglected her children. So the "little people" spirited the kids away, washed them in the morning dew - and returned them. Betty was so shocked, she vowed to be a better mum.
Skinners Brewery of Truro have celebrated this tall tale with a magical copper ale (4%) that blends a biscuity underbody with a sharp grapefruit tang from Styrian Goldings hops leaving a long bitter finish. A good quaffing beer with which to watch the match. Waitrose, pounds 1.89.