Even though the US is now officially in recession and Cayman waits to see just how hard its economy will be impacted, there is no reason why you have to give up the simple pleasures in life. This month The Journal brings Jacques Scott’s top six wines for under CI$15. So reach for the corkscrew, kick back and relax with a glass or two that will transport you back to the good old days before we’d even a heard of the phrase “economic meltdown”.
Britannia Restaurant, nestled quietly overlooking the elegant golf course and waterways that surround the Britannia development was the perfect location to try some really excellent value-for-money wines, providing a well priced yet varied menu to match.
First on the agenda was a Barefoot California Sauvignon Blanc (CI$10.95). Barefoot wines were originally introduced in 1965 by Davis Bynum, now famous for the Russian River Valley wines he makes at the Davis Bynum Winery. Bynum had a passion for wine after making ‘garage style’ home wines for over 10 years and in 1996, Barefoot Cellars became a national brand. Their award-winning wines have enjoyed considerable success in the US.
Lee Royle, Retail Wine Sales Professional with Jacques Scott, describes the Sauvignon Blanc, “This is a medium bodied with light minerality, clean acidity and fresh citrus flavours.” We tried this wine with Britannia’s garden spinach salad with roasted almonds, grapefruit segments and grilled salmon. The perfectly cooked salmon paired nicely with the acidity of the wine; however a better pairing for this dish was yet to come.
2006 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon Blanc (CI$11.95) is a fruity, crisp, dry wine made from white Rhône varietals: Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne and Ugni Blanc.
Jean Pierre Perrin established La Vieille Ferme over 35 years ago, when he chose to produce an inexpensive, straightforward Rhône wine to sell by direct mail to French wine lovers. He used the same grape varieties in similar proportions to those planted at the family’s Château de Beaucastel, in a similar vinification process. The result was an immediate success in France. Jean Pierre eventually began to produce a white wine from the mountainous Côtes du Luberon. La Vieille Ferme was introduced to the US in 1970. The response was critical acclaim from critics who recognised La Vieille Ferme for its consistently fine quality and value.
Lee says this wine displays a nice balanced acidity and paired well with a good English favourite – fish and chips. Britannia make excellent chips (fries to those of you from this side of the pond) and they were plentiful and continuous during this particular lunch, thanks to our excellent server, Miss Judith.
2006 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah (CI$14.95). Montes first began producing wine in 1987, when two partners, Aurelio Montes and Douglas Murray, both holding long-standing experience in the wine industry, were certain Chile could improve on the quality it was producing at the time. After several years of experimentation Aurelio Montes settled on producing a rosé from Syrah, a grape he made famous in Chile with the country’s first-ever ultra premium 100 per cent Syrah called Montes’ Folly in 2002.
Ross Phillips, Wine Marketing Manager with Jacques Scott says, “The Montes Cherub Rosé is an elegant, dry wine, with an intense cherry-pink color and aromas of spice, strawberries, rose and orange peel.”
The wine matched perfectly with the salmon dish, its meaty texture and flavour perfectly complementing the robust fruitiness of the rosé. Showing great versatility, the wine also went surprisingly well with our next dish, Britannia’s Cuban sandwich with baked ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickle and yellow mustard.
2004 Goats do Roam Red (CI$12.95). The South African Goats do Roam Wine Company was created by Fairview owner/vintner Charles Back in 1999 and despite the humour in the name, Back has created some great value wines. This particular wine is based on the Syrah varietal, so this wine offers big jammy fruit, a touch of spice and hints of liqourice.
This wine was a great match with Britannia’s Sizzlin’ Fajitas, a spicy mix of chicken and all the usual fajita accompaniments such as guacamole, tomato-based salsa and sour cream.
2006 Antinori Santa Christina (CI$12.95). Santa Cristina was originally introduced in 1946 as a Chianti Classico by Piero Antinori’s father, Niccolò. However, the 1984 DOCG laws required lower vineyard yields, and Chianti Classico grapes became so complex and rich that they required more aging than this fruity fresh wine needed to maintain its style and character. Therefore, with the 1987 vintage Santa Cristina moved away from the Chianti Classico designation, and with the 1994 vintage Antinori began including 10 per cent Merlot to the blend to add soft, open fruit nuances to the 90 per cent Sangiovese varietal.
Paul McLaughlin, Wine Retail Manager with Jacques Scott notes, “The Antinori Santa Christina is a well balanced wine with cherry fruit and notes of rustic nuances and pronounced red brambly fruits. It’s soft and delicious and paired extremely well with Britannia’s Alpine Melt – prime rib au jus with sautéed mushrooms, onions and Provolone cheese.”
2005 Miguel Torres Coronas Tempranillo (CI$12.95). The Torres family name has been linked with wine for more than three centuries, during which time their ancestors have worked vineyards in Spain, a land with a millenarian tradition of wine. Torres is today associated with top quality wine in over 130 countries, working from three central sites in Catalonia Spain, Chile and California.
Lee describes the Tempranillo (DO Catalunya): “There are nuances of very ripe fruit (blackberry and strawberry), oak and truffles on the nose and palate. Its soft tannins make this an infinitely drinkable wine.”
Another winner with the Alpine Melt, the Coronas displayed a special affinity with the rich gravy of the dish.