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Wine and the dreaded hangover

PUBLISHED: 11:52 29 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:52 29 July 2013

Almudena Imhof and Peter Hadlow

Almudena Imhof and Peter Hadlow

Archant

In the same way that if you drive down the price of beef to a level that makes it uneconomical for the farmer you end up with the horse meat scandal, the same can happen to wine.

I care about sustainability, both for the environment and the grower.

Growers need to make a living and be able to invest in their land and vines, and having to sell wine at under 50 cents a litre is not sustainable.

On a personal level I want to know where my wine comes from and the methods used to make it, because if I’m not happy drinking the wine at home with my family, I won’t recommend or buy it.

A friend said to me recently ‘I can’t drink wine it gives me a headache’.

I explained that she was obviously drinking the wrong wines.

It’s not the wine it’s the chemicals that can get put into the wine that causes headaches. Always look at where the wine you are about to buy was bottled.

If, for example, you see a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that was bottled in a different country, and it always says on the back of the label, you know that vast amounts of sulphites and other chemicals have been added, because if you transport the wine from the winery to a zillion gallon tank in the bowels of a supertanker and then by truck to a bottling plant miles away the amount of ‘nasties’ is a given. Having got that off my chest lets look at what a few different countries are doing.

ARGENTINA

Because so much of Argentinian wine production is at altitude, grapes which thrive between 2500 and 4500ft do well. One such grape is Malbec which can make a soft and fruity or a more robust and high in tannin wine, but whichever you prefer, Malbec is at its best in Argentina.

SPAIN

Spain like France now produces lots of food friendly wine. I was visited recently by Almudena Imhof, a young lady, see photo, who is the export manager for Izadi Wines, a company in Rioja which has expanded into Ribera del Duero,Rueda, and Toro.

The company also owns a Michelin starred restaurant in Vitoria and in partnership with other such restaurants produces wines to complement its food, including Orben, the best Rioja I’ve ever had under £40.

Anyway Almudena had brought with her half a dozen bottles of their latest vintages for us to try. I know, I know, it’s a tough job.

AUSTRALIA.

Australia has one overriding problem at the moment and that is the strength of the dollar. I love Australian wine and all through the 1990s and indeed up until just a couple of years ago they were sweeping all before them, but then the dollar went sky high.

I think this was, is, in part due to the mineral deposits in Western Oz that the Chinese are buying.

Anyway before you wonder whether this is a page on economics, back to the wine. The South East from Adelaide to Canberra is where the majority of wine is produced, but always look for a district on the label such as Eden Valley, McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley, Geelong, and there are a few more but be wary of just Wine of ‘South Australia’. The far west around the Margaret River, and the Great Southern also produce wonderful wines, my favourite winery being Plantagenet which was the first winery in the Great Southern region and produces the most exciting yet classically elegant wines. The proximity of the Southern Ocean ensures slow ripening, which in turn enhances the aromatic qualities of the grapes. The Riesling is just stunning.

ITALY

Italy vies with France for the title of the largest wine producing country.

Some wines from Sicily and Puglia (the heel) are great value and in particular the A Mano wines, produced by a brilliant young Californian winemaker, Mark Shannon, who married an Italian girl, Elve, and moved to Bari. Mark makes great wines from the best grapes in the area.

Peter Hadlow is the main wine buyer at The Cellar Bar in Clevedon and has travelled extensively evaluating wines.

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