At the end of last year I hit a bit of a milestone. It was the Big 3 0 for me, and so far I’m thoroughly enjoying the way my fourth decade has started. I think I’ve packed a fair amount into my thirty years thus far. I can’t imagine what I’ll cram into the next thirty, though looking at my Dad could be a good indicator. Recently he doubled my record – he turned sixty.
Now I’m not suggesting that my Dad has any delusions of grandeur (much) but the man has decided he is entitled to not one, nor two, but three birthday parties. Better than the Queen eh? He’s obviously got too many friends and has to divide them up into manageable groups – it must be hard being so popular. Work friends at one do, family and old friends at the second and a big outdoors knees up in the summer to round off the celebrations. That’s the way to do it!
Obviously wine is an integral part of celebrating any occasion, well that’s certainly the case in my family. So I was charged with the task of choosing the right bottles for the job. Picking a crowd pleasing wine is always tough, everyone has their own tastes and favourites. My family tend to go for big bold reds and full rich whites, but many a party goer may be overwhelmed by an early afternoon session of Malbecs and 14% ABV Chardonnays. So, for the white, I fall back on the old favourite – Sauvignon Blanc. Don Cayetano Sauvignon is a classic New World example from the Central Valley in Chile. It delivers everything you want from an easy drinking party wine, and goes well with the canapes and the herby salmon main course. I know my Dad’s a big fan of Spanish wine so I pander to his tastes for the red and choose something I know he loves – Posada del Rey from Laithwaites. Rich and intense enough to meet his needs but smooth and fruity enough to drink on it’s own.
“Nearly got it nailed” I boast to myself, but the final challenge is a tricky one. I want a sparkling wine with a good amount of character, and enough quality to be worthy of such a momentous occasion! Champagne is all well and good but we need a LOT of it so perhaps funds would be better directed elsewhere. The south of England is producing some unbelievably tasty fizz, Nyetimber attracting the most column inches after it outperformed many top Champagnes in a blind tasting, (though my personal favourites are the wines produced by Ridgeview in Sussex). Unfortunately English wines carry pretty hefty price tags and while I’d love to support our home grown industry, price dictates I look further afield. I’ve tasted some fantastic sparklers from down under recently, in particular the excellent Jansz (both the 2003 and the non-vintage) from Tasmania which easily rival many Champagne houses’ efforts. New Zealand is also the home of one very Big Name – Cloudy Bay. Their Sauvignon is lauded as some of the best in the world (though I think it’s more than a little over rated at the price). They also produce a fizz called Pelorus, using two of the three classic Champagne varieties: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. So I opt for this to toast Dad’s descent into OAP status. And a lovely wine it is too! Rich and creamy, with a pleasant baked apple flavour. It also had definite marzipan on the palate, which went perfectly with the rich fruit birthday cake.
Happy Birthday Dad! Bus pass application forms are in the post…..