English asparagus has hit the greengrocer’s shelves and Jersey Royal potatoes will soon be joined by mainland British new potatoes – the hungry gap is well and truly over and we can soon look forward to more delicious, fresh and local produce.
And to drink?
Fashionable it ain’t, but Muscadet is just right for the season – fresh, vibrant and with a slight tang that is redolent of the sea. Château du Cléray Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine sur lie 2013 (£9.99 or 8.49 from Majestic on their mix and match any two offer) is a classy example which goes well with asparagus, pan fried salmon and the like.
Gaillac Perlé is an interesting wine style created in the 20th century in the Gaillac region of Southwest France. It’s lightly sparkling (but not enough to require a Champagne-style bottle or cork) which adds to the sensation of freshness. And at around 11-12% alcohol, this is a perfect lunchtime glass. These wines are pretty consistent, whichever one you come across, but The Wine Society lists Esprit de Labastide Gaillac Blanc Perlé 2104 for £5.95, which is clean as a whistle and does the job nicely.
More patriotic would be something English (or Welsh). These wines are going from strength to strength.
Surrey’s own Denbie’s estate produces a wide range of wines, including their Whitedowns Cuvée (£21.99 from Denbie’s online shop, £17.99 from Waitrose, also available elsewhere), a blend of Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner. It’s youthful, light and frothy with a delicious combination of creaminess, lemon sherbet acidity and a hint of spice – perfect for an outdoor afternoon tea.
Chapel Down’s Vintage Reserve Brut (£20.99 at Majestic and elsewhere, £20.79 at Waitrose) is a classic blend of the Champagne varieties, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier – with just a dash of Reichensteiner. It has a floral aroma and is a youthful, light, fresh and vibrant palate.