Elvis Costello, albeit indirectly, is the man responsible for today’s three featured wines. Here’s how.
Back in the mid 1980’s, Costello toured the UK with his Spectacular Spinning Songbook show. During the gigs, audience members were picked out at random and asked to spin a huge roulette wheel emblazoned with forty of Costello’s finest songs. Then, when the wheel came to rest, the spinners were ushered into a cage with a couple of go-go dancers and encouraged to dance along with their chosen song.
Many years later, on the lookout for new ideas for wine tastings, I remembered the Spinning Songbook shows and realised that Costello’s random wheel idea – if not the go-go dancers – would work really well at wine tasting events. So, I asked a friendly carpenter to knock up a Wheel of Wine for me.
Pleasingly, Wheel of Wine proved to be a big hit with our customers and – quelle surprise – it was especially popular on those evenings when it picked out all of the most expensive wines on offer.
Anyway, for a couple of years, Wheel of Wine served us well and then we began to use it less and less as we came up with newer wine tastings formats. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until last week when I started reading Elvis Costello’s autobiography, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, and decided it was time to dust the wheel down and give it a spin to choose some wines for today.
There are twelve segments on Wheel on Wine and I chose to allocate each segment to a white wine and then span the wheel three times. Here then, in ascending price order, are the wines that the wheel picked out.
Grillo, Ca di Ponti 2014 £ 6.25
Grillo is a little known grape variety that is indigenous to Sicily. The Ca di Ponti Grillo has a honeyed, floral and spicy nose with hints of ginger and stone fruit. On the palate, the wine has ripe, sun-dried citrus characters with a lightly nutty finish and a creamy texture.
Mathilda Viognier/Marsanne, Domaine Tournon 2014 £ 14.75
Famous French winemaker, Michel Chapoutier, is world renowned for his exceptional Rhone Valley wines but his pioneering spirit has always taken him far from home and in 1997 he set out to explore the vinous possibilities in Australia.
After much research, he set up Domaine Tournon in the undulating Pyrenees Hills of Victoria. There, under the Mathilda label, he produces both a white and red wine. The white was awarded a mark of 17/20 by Decanter wine magazine and was described as, “An effusively fruity, perfumed blend from Michel Chapoutier’s expanding Australian stable reveals honeysuckle, juicy pear, peach and lychee”
There are a plethora of potential food pairings for this wine, including; light seafood dishes, roast poultry, pork, stir fry and sharp cheeses
Skye’s English Chardonnay, Hush Heath Estate 2014 £ 16.75
Appropriately, given that it’s English Wine Week, this was the wine that ‘Wheel of Wine’ landed on with my first spin.
Hush Heath Estate, situated in Kent, dates back to 1503. At the heart of the property is a Tudor manor surrounded by 162 hectares of perfectly manicured gardens, vineyards and apple orchards. Forward thinking owner, Richard Balfour-Lynn, first planted vineyards on the property in 2002.
The Skye’s English Chardonnay has an alluring nose of citrus, thyme and pineapple. On the palate, the wine’s lively acidity is balanced by rich, ripe grapefruit, citrus and apple flavours. It is a wine with great length, finishing with saline, herbal notes typical of the Hush Heath style.