Just in time for Mothering Sunday, Terry Kirby rounds up the best wines that are available on the high street
The tradition of Mothering Sunday was actually nothing to do with mothers: originally dating from the 16th century, it was the one day in the year, the third Sunday in Lent, when Christian worshippers from far-flung parishes would go to the “mother” church or cathedral of the area, and since it was in the spring, it was usually celebrated with garlands of flowers and seen as a time for family reunions. But it also chimed in with Roman and Greek celebrations of the “mother goddesses” Cybele and Rhea, usually in March as well.
The specific celebration of Mother’s Day was created in the United States in the 19th century as a way of honouring mothers and the roles they played; as a way of reinforcing what was seen then as family values. Today, like Valentine’s Day, it is much overtaken by commercialism, but still a good excuse to raise a glass to celebrate all mothers and their unique place in our world.
So, if you are planning a special meal of family gathering tomorrow for which wine is needed, it is unfortunately too late to buy online. Our wine choices this week therefore have to be limited to what is available on the high street.
The first stop has to be a sparkler and for a traditional champagne that tastes and feels classy, try the Pommery Brut Royal NV (£39.99 or £28.99 as part of a mixed six-bottle purchase; Majestic Wine) from one of the oldest champagne houses: light and fresh, with lots of citrus and apple notes. Pink somehow seems unavoidable when it comes to Mother’s Day, so another good choice is an elegant English sparkling rose, the Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose (£35.00 Marks and Spencer); chardonnay with a dash of pinot from Hampshire, full of summery fruit notes, an excellent celebration aperitif and wonderful with seafood canapes. And in a nice gift box.
Staying in the pink mode, the forecast for the weekend seems good, so some might like to open the first still rose of the year and one of the best bargains can be found in the Co-op which has an exclusive new wine from Miraval, the Provence estate owned jointly by actors Angelina Jolie (something of a mother figure herself) and her ex Brad Pitt in partnership with the renowned Perrins wine family. Miraval produces excellent, elegantly created and bottled roses in the typically pale, orange-and-herb-scented Provencal style, and Studio by Miraval (£12.00 Co-op stores) continues this with a cinsault and grenache dominated blend. Gorgeous with any seafood or tomato based dishes.
As spring is on the way, many reach for the refreshing and zesty notes of sauvignon blanc, which usually these days means New Zealand’s zesty, mouth-puckering versions. For the original Bordeaux take on a grape and for a more special meal, the Chateau de Cruzeau 2013 (£17.99 Waitrose); this has some ageing to give richness and fullness on the palate, but also has subtle citrus and refreshing flavours. Fabulous with a baked fish or lighter white-meat dishes.
Had a bit too much SB? Try the Rabl Gruner Veltliner (£10.99 or £8.99 as part of mixed six-bottle purchase; Majestic Wine), a rich and spicy gruner from the Kamptal region of Austria, with lots of smoky and tropical-fruit flavours. Fab with roast pork. If you are having rare roast beef or leg of lamb with anchovies and rosemary, then you will need a good, all-purpose claret. The Moueix Saint Emilion 2015 (£15.00 Marks and Spencer) is a really soft and velvety smooth claret, elegant and subtle from one of the prime Bordeaux villages – nicely rounded flavours of blackberries, plums and some herbal touches. If you want a slightly lighter wine then try the silky and Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 (£23.00 or £20.50 as part of a mixed six bottle purchase; Majestic Wine), a supreme example of New Zealand pinot – some oak ageing gives spice, depth and complexity to the black-fruit flavours. Suitable for all kind of roast meats, particularly lamb, duck or poultry and richer vegetable dishes.
Finally, a dessert wine for all types of puddings: made in Spain from the muscat grape in the style of the French vin doux naturel, the Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro (50cl; £6.59 9 until April, normally £8.29; Waitrose); a good buy at the normal price and a positive steal at the current discount. It’s on the lighter end of the dessert-wine spectrum, with clean, luscious flavours of apricots, honey and orange blossom.