A CHANCE perusal of a restaurant wine menu furnished me with the subject for my wine column this week – namely that of establishments which offer a good range of wine, but do not set prohibitive prices, thus equating to value-for-money regular offers.
The Bear in Pagham, run by convivial hosts Graham and Suzanne Godwyn, is an 18th century coaching inn and a traditional pub with a reputation for good food and was my destination for Sunday lunch last week.
The food, as ever, was of good quality (try a roast!), but it was the wine menu which captured my attention with white wines, all served by the glass also, ranging from just £13.50 a bottle to the hardly lofty heights of £18 for a Sauvignon Blanc.
The red wines similarly ranged from £13.50 to £17.95. The Nandu Sauvignon Blanc of Chilean provenance, one of two entry-level white wines, priced at £13.50 a bottle, proved to be perfectly palatable with a light herbal character and oozing zesty citrus freshness with a hint of grapefruit.
Next for just an outlay of £15, the USA Wandering Bear Chardonnay (the only errant American one I recall was Yogi!) was big and juicy, yet soft and most quaffable!
Tropical fruit flavours to the fore with pineapple particularly prominent and a hint of toasted almond, this wine is one for people who do not like their wines too dry!
For £18, the Akau Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough has hints of nettle, is crisp, vibrant and fruity with gooseberries to the fore with citrus flavours lingering in the mouth and a smooth, long finish.
In terms of red wines, I will also concentrate on three in particular, commencing with the Wandering Bear USA Merlot, priced at £15 a bottle, sporting soft and juicy wine aromas of forest fruit and plums with a slight hint of oak and some dark chocolate.
This wine is full of fruit and a veritable crowd pleaser! I next espied an old favourite of mine, namely a L’Instant Truffier Malbec – a modern style from the Rigal family in Cahors, the spiritual home of Malbec.
This one is a lovely Cahors with fairly smooth tannins and a touch of spice. There is a nice mélange of flavours with black cherry, pepper and a touch of anise. Hints of French sophistication add to its quality and it would complement red meats, game or duck.
My last choice was that of a Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at £16.95, with a deep ruby colour, firm tannins and being fruit forward with black cherry plum, blackberry, tobacco, vanilla and cedar in evidence – a panoply of flavours to savour.
My thanks to Graham for agreeing to showcase some of his wines above and do look at wine menus and compare prices – à bientôt!