Do not like Riesling? You are mad. Do not like Moscato? Christ… Well, do not worry, when they let you out of the secure ward (I can suggest some minimally nasty loony bins to book into) I have a great recommendation for a summery wine for you. It is light, refreshing, affordable and, if I am honest, very nearly a new one on me.
I have only had Brachetto del Roero once before and because I was happy to make a sweeping generalisation based on one crappy sample at a supermarket buyers’ tasting, I wrote it all off as sub-interest. This one, costing a bit more than that one I told Tesco to avoid, is totally delicious and as I sit here on this scorching hot day, paying scant attention to England getting thrashed in The Ashes, this is precisely what I want to be drinking. It is what you want to be drinking too.
Brachetto del Roero is the grape this wine is made from and, strictly speaking, the producers in Roero, Piedmont, are not allowed to use the name of the grape on their label, as a neighbouring region managed to convince the viticultural authorities that the grape was theirs. Given the ample evidence that the grape has been grown in Roero for over 400 years, and Italians not giving a cow’s fart about following laws, that is what you ask your wine merchant for. Having tried this last night I needed more and picked up a few at lunchtime (I managed to go outside, despite all the non-existent but still terrifying horrors! Well done me!) from Toscanaccio; I give them a thumbs up for good value, little-known wines from Italy so they know what this wine is really called.
Brachetto del Roero is a partially fermented red wine must, much like Moscato d’Asti, only rose-petal red in colour. As it is only partially fermented there is sugar left in the wine and it is a little sweet. And that is very agreeable. This does mean the wine is to be drunk immediately on release and ideally quaffed in hearty draughts – indeed I’m considering drinking my next bottle from a pint glass. On to the wine!
As I said, rose-petal red and gently sparkling as I pour it. A sniff…. It is a ‘pick you own’ farm in a glass! Lots of lovely, ripe, sweet raspberry fruit that is so attractive those raspberries could have been grown in Hampshire. Hints of strawberry and redcurrants too. The fizz is not so strong that you risk carbon dioxide asphyxiation whilst enjoying the delightful smells of an English summer presented by this grape from Piedmont; I always knew Piedmont was civilised despite them growing Barbera. Oh Barbera, how I despise its inky, fiercely acidic, insipid horribleness. Right, this smells lovely, got that? Now I can drink!
Gently sparkling on the palate, a fine, friendly fizz. That lovely fruit from the nose engorges the palate with gratification. It is enhanced by a light sweetness that is perfectly in balance with the wine’s other components. Unlike Moscato this has a hint of astringency, which makes it more of thoughtful pleasure than mere fruit and sugar. There is also quite a lot of acidity, perhaps not Riesling levels but enough to be seriously sapid.
All these characteristics make it not only irresistible to drink, but also give it a shade more dimension than most wines at this price point. Yeah, yeah, it is not as complex as your average bottle of Morey-Saint-Denis, but it costs plus ou moins one fifth the average price of a bottle from my cellar. For such a trifling sum it delivers real interest, style, and what we really like, a horse’s knackers-load of pleasure. I like to throw myself mindfully into an experience and really exist in the moment it occurs – as I drink this I cannot help but be transported to a Hampshire Eden full of fruit and frolicsome fun. I cannot help but grin and, much to The Editor’s annoyance, occasionally ejaculate “Whoopee!”.
When you buy some and drink it on a day as lovely as this, but hopefully when England are being less laughable in The Ashes, I know you will feel exactly the same as I am now. It is clear to me you will because of the manifest charms of this wine and because paranoid schizophrenia makes it easy to read the minds of people who are not there. Drink, enjoy and know I’m already basking in your happy thoughts.