Rain, snow but the wine is still pouring

Sometimes it snows in April is the title of a beautiful Prince song.

Saturday, 10th April 2021, 6:00 am
Enjoying an occasional tipple with Raymond Gleug

It is April and, as I write this, it is snowing. Prince misled us. Snow in April is not melancholic or poignant. It’s annoying, unnecessary and wrong. Worst of all, it’s not even proper snow. It also means that I have to quickly bring the sweet pea and broad beans which I’ve only just planted in the garden of my lovely home, Rose Cottage, back inside.

As well as having to rearrange the tennis lessons I’d agreed to give the very pretty girl who lives down our lane, I’ve also had to revise my recommendations for your own boozing plans this weekend. If it’s still snowing or even just raining incessantly with furious gales then you’ll probably not want anything too summery (which was my original plan). Step forward instead, today’s Wine of the Week, the intensely flavoured, supple and rustic 2018 Duca Di Sasseta Ser Passo Toscana (£9.99, Lidl). A sensual and voluptuous Tuscan red wherein dark cherry mingles on an ineffably soft palate alongside ripe juicy plum flavours and intriguing violet aromatics with just a hint of spice in its luxurious, peppery finish. Enjoy with lamb chops, new potatoes, asparagus and someone you really love, indoors, by a roaring fire.

My darling French wife, the redoubtable Madame G., often expresses her bewilderment at how people in this country wear shorts and T-shirts in all weathers. I tell her that’s because we dress for the weather we hope is coming soon rather than what’s actually happening right now. It’s a noble practice which simultaneously feeds both our optimism and our resilience. The two qualities needed most right now. Those of you expecting more clement conditions soon may prefer the easy-drinking, fruity and delightfully tangy 2019 M&S Beaujolais Villages (£8). This excellently-priced, light-bodied red has lots of ripe summer berry flavours on its exuberantly juicy palate before a smooth, lingering finish. It will benefit from being served very slightly chilled, perhaps with roast chicken alongside garlic and rosemary potatoes.

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Lovers of white, pray for sunshine. If you get it, then I’d suggest you get tore into the ferociously crisp, delightfully dry and vibrantly aromatic 2019 M&S Classics Soave (£8). A bright floral attack yields to peach and apricot flavours which jostle for attention with nutty backnotes of almond and butterscotch on its complex palate before a brisk, discreetly acidic finish. One to enjoy with mildly spiced Mediterranean or Asian cuisine, particularly seafood and salads.

And if the sun should shine and you’ve been roundly outclassed at tennis by the old man who lives up the lane, then you may wish to console yourself with something reassuringly familiar. Today’s final recommendation is for anyone feeling down on their luck, whether they’ve just lost at tennis or have seen their horse pipped at the post in today’s Grand National (Any Second Now is my selection). The world’s first Chardonnay to be aged in whiskey barrels is the fabulously fresh, fragrant and full-bodied 2019 Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Matured Chardonnay (widely available, generally about £12). It certainly has more depth of flavour and intensity than your average Chardonnay. If big flavours and buttery richness are for you ( and why wouldn’t they be?), then this will be an ideal match to a creamy chicken casserole on a cool Spring evening. A lot can happen in three days as Our Lord told his disciples. Well, it’ll be at least seven days till you hear from me again. Perhaps by then my sweet peas and broad beans will be back outside enjoying the sunshine we all deserve. Lockdown will be over. We’ll have a cure for cancer, maybe even Covid. World peace will have been announced. Michelle and Arlene will admit that they’re really best buddies and encourage us to set our differences aside. It was all just a big mistake... Or not. In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with delicious wine. As I once asked my Madame just before she agreed to marry me: “Is it snowing? I hadn’t noticed.” Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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