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Now’s the time to stock up on wine for Valentine’s Day

No matter what the number in your party Burrows Lightbourn has an appropriately sized bottle of Whispering Angel in stock, Michael Robinson promises

Last week there wasn’t a bubbly or rosé among my suggestions for Valentine’s Day and so I will make up for that now.

For instance, what could be more appropriately Bermudian than your own rock angel? The 2020 Chateau d’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé is a wonderful big sister to the ever-popular Whispering Angel, the wine that literally turned our modern world on to fine rosé.

Grenache, vermentino and cinsault grapes join hands to give rosé lovers a bigger and richer wine that is fabulous as an aperitif or paired with a broad range of fine cuisine. If you like the minerality of a sancerre, you will love this wine.

Decanter magazine and James Suckling score it 92/100, with the latter writing, “A pale peach-coloured rosé with aromas of roses, strawberries, raspberries, and nectarines. It’s medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a juicy, creamy palate. Deliciously fruity with good concentration and length.” $39 (Stock #8102).

When Sacha Lichine originally purchased Chateau d’Esclans in Provence his intention was to make a couple of rosé wines that would rival any wine, of any type, and this he has done. We have his very top 2020 Chateau d’Esclans Garrus Rosé that sources its grapes from a single vineyard with 100-year-old vines. Although it is a contender for the finest rosé in the world, I am not going to discuss it today; but just in case you may be interested in dallying with perfection you can have a bottle for $125 (Stock #8111).

Instead, I would like to tell you about his 2020 Chateau d’Esclans Les Clans Rosé that I have always found quite remarkable. I say this as I suspect, that if I was blind tasted with this wine, I would hazard a guess that it was a very fine white burgundy, and as you know, these wines are 100 per cent chardonnay. Les Clans is made from grenache and rolle (vermintino) that are entirely fermented and aged in large French oak barrels. It represents a particular disconnect with rosé in general as it is quite remarkable with potential to age or, if tempted, to enjoy with great pleasure sooner rather than later.

This wine is both rich and exotic while being full bodied and elegant. Decanter gives it 95 points and comments, “Integrated nutty nose, with rosewater and vanilla aromas. The palate is sumptuously rich, with depth of extraction of peach, redcurrant and plum fruit flavours, oatmeal textured oak, bread dough, sweet spices, and a lovely citrus lick on the finish. An elegant and very lovely wine.” Enjoy with the love of your life and you both will be amazed by its excellence. $65 (Stock #8116).

We really cannot wrap up this section with no mention of 2021 Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel, a wine that came about rather by accident. The story goes that after selecting grapes for Garrus and Les Clans there was some fruit left over. Someone suggested that it be used for a more affordable, but still top drawer, rosé. Even better, the name Whispering Angel was proposed. James Suckling says of the 2021 vintage, “92/100. Pale rose colour with pretty aromas of lavender, rosehip, strawberries, cherries, and cloves. Perfumed and elegant.”

No matter what the number in your party we have a bottle for you, with probably the largest size selection of any wine in Bermuda – a nine-litre Salmanazar for $640 (stock #8114); six-litre Methuselah for $345 (stock #8108); a three-litre Jeroboam at $155 (stock #8109). Magnums are $60 (stock #8106), bottles $29.90 (stock #8101) and half bottles $16.90 (stock #8107).

Those that are mathematically adroit (I suspect you all are) will say, “Wait a minute, I thought bigger sizes were always a better price?” True indeed with paper towels, peanut butter and so on, but these big bottles are virtually handmade, require far thicker glass, are individually filled and so on. But the excitement of opening one is such a joyful occasion! Some even say, “the bigger the bottle the better the wine”.

If you need bubbles that exhibit the ultimate in “yumminess” then 2021 Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Sparkling Pinot Noir is an Australian wine for you to share. Pinot noir, at 85 per cent, dominates, but there is a splash of shiraz, pinot gris and chardonnay. A pretty pale pink colour is the indicator of fresh, red cherry and strawberry followed by a dash of cream. Although I never used to refer to a young lady as a “bird” let me also assure you that this is not the reason for this wine name. This winery sits on deposits from an old goldmine that was called Bird in Hand. It operated from 1881 until 1889. $26.95 (Stock #6088).

Back in my twenties I had no idea that the “coup” glass that champagne was served in was purported to have been moulded from one of Queen Marie Antoinette’s breasts. It certainly dissipated all the bubbles far too quickly and so next came the flute that does not release much of the aroma and bouquet – but in fact it is still very popular. Recently champagne, and other fine bubbly producers, recommend a tulip-shaped glass. If you do not have this, you would be best served by your finest white wine glass.

So, I must not end before suggesting a fine, bubbly rosé and you will find this with Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage that is not your typical rosé champagne, as a high proportion of pinot noir results in a bold, deep-hued rosé and a palate that is structured, full-bodied, and yet distinctly elegant.

This unique, fruity champagne, carefully crafted from over 100 crus, is guaranteed to delight all the senses as it simultaneously offers black cherry, blackberry, pink grapefruit and blood orange notes. The structure and fruitiness are enriched with warm, spicy notes of Espelette pepper, tea, and liquorice. This is what the Wine Spectator has to say: “Sleek and finely knit, with firm acidity and a chalky underpinning married to a lovely range of steeped raspberry, wild strawberry and dried fig fruit flavours. Hints of salted almond, blood orange zest and smoke play on the finish. Pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay.” $69.95 (Stock #7061).

Let us toast that Roman priest and physician, who was the patron saint of lovers and beekeepers – St Valentine must have been a busy man!

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd written by Michael Robinson. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm

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Published February 10, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 09, 2023 at 2:51 pm)

Now’s the time to stock up on wine for Valentine’s Day

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