5 cracking wines and a fab Flemish beer for Easter

The team from Corker Outdoor, Award sponsor Jason Varney (Thomson, Snell & Passmore) & Eamonn Holmes

The Easter weekend is finally upon us! If the family’s gathering for a festive lunch or you’re throwing a party, let’s hope for some pleasant springtide sunshine so we can hopefully raise a few glasses outside.


1. The best sub-£10 Chardonnay to buy now

Grove Mill Chardonnay 2020, Marlborough, New Zealand (£9.75, The Wine Society, 14%)

The Wine Society is unswervingly excellent with its gifted, haggling buying team. Are you a fan of white burgundy fan but have a distaste for the price? Try this instead. Stunning value, delivering ripe stone fruit, baking spice oak, grilled almond, orchard fruit and citrusy refreshment. As good as wine gets under £10. The length is impeccable, as is the precision of expression. It’s a whizz with roast chicken, fish pie, poached salmon/roast trout with hollandaise and sole meunière. Seriously good wine as selected by the astute buyer, Freddy Bulmer. Hurry though as this Kiwi vinous steal will sell out fast. When it does look out for Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Chardonnay 2020 (£8.99 mix 6). Available soon from Majestic. All class here too and a great French bottle for early consumption.


2. Tiptop fresh and flavoursome high-altitude Spanish red for Easter lamb

‘Raposo’ Rioja Sierra de Toloño 2018, Spain (£19.50, Lea & Sandeman, 13.5%)

This outstanding tangy, crunchy, floral, spicy, herbal and balsamic Rioja has line and length all sewn up, but pure drinkability is the clincher. Slips down the throat so effortlessly suggesting most bottles from trailblazing London wine merchant Lea & Sandeman will disappear early in their life. Panache and black fruits galore from an altitudinous vineyard. A piece of Rioja craft. Stunning quality from Sandra Bravo, a leading light in the so-called ‘Rioja ‘n’ Roll’ collective of leading Rioja winemakers. To enjoy this at its best, decant it an hour before drinking. It would be delectable with lamb. Showed brilliantly again at Burlington House last week. PS no fining!


3. Superb Chardonnay-forward pink bubbly from chalky Hants

Hambledon Vineyard, Classic Cuvée Rosé, Hampshire, England (£30.95-£36.50, Fareham Wine Cellar, The Secret Bottle Shop, Champagne Direct & Berry Bros & Rudd, 12%)

This multi-layered, benchmark pink sparkling wine from Hampshire is beautifully fragrant with floral, red berry, toasty and yeasty notes. From start to finish, it’s really good, remarkably fresh and will never be better than it is now and through to Christmas 2022. Fab as an aperitif or perhaps with salmon fillet? Its incontestable quality becomes more and more apparent as you spend time with it. Complete in every way and worth the price tag, this has majestic length and an undeniable X-factor. Very classy, magnificently crafted and perfect for a special Easter brunch.



4. Pass the fruity port for blue cheese, dark chocolate and opulent chocolate puddings

Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Port NV, Portugal (£12.95-£13.99, Whisky Exchange, Majestic & Virgin Wines, 20%)

Fonseca Bin 27 port was launched in the UK in 1972 and is a blend of select reserve ports aged for around four years in large wood vats before bottling. Lip-smacking stuff and always a great value fortified wine, this is tailor-made for farmhouse Cheddar and dark chocolate desserts. A rich array of flavours here, lingering for ages. Great-value, superior ruby port. Try to finish it up over days rather than weeks. No need to decant.


5. Mellow sweet Madeira for chocolate lovers

Henriques & Henriques 10-year-old Malvasia Madeira (£19.99-£22.50, Majestic mix 6, Wine Society & Tanners, 500ml, 20%)

A thoroughly hedonistic wine offering phenomenal intensity and length, this stupendous 10-year-old Malvasia, aka Malmsey, is one of Madeira’s most watchfully protected secrets. It’s the sweetest style of Madeira but still balanced by invigorating high acidity. This one is as honeyed as Christmas cake with myriad, complex coffee, caramel, roasted nut and dried fruit/raisiny flavours. Tangy/juicy acidity keeps the energy levels high. I like the way it fortifies its message on the aftertaste. An indulgent sweet Madeira to try with Simnel cake, dark chocolate or blue cheeses such as Roquefort and Stilton. Superb!


6. Finally… a fruity and earthy Belgian beer to pair with chocolate brownies and Easter eggs 

Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck Bacchus Kriekenbier, Belgium (£2.50, Tesco, 375ml, 5.8%)

Kriek is a tart, fruity Flemish Old Brown beer that has been matured with cherries. The mixture of sweet and sour is a must for lovers of refreshing, fruity, wilder brews. Think moreish sweet and tart cherry flavours held in check with a nice touch of acidity, plus hints of vanilla, oak and nuts. Quite irresistible with chocolate brownies, Belgian chocolates, cherry cheesecake and Easter eggs. Revelatory like stout and oysters. Sip it out of a Champagne flute.


Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

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