WINE TO DINE – NOVEMBER 2019 – DUCK

Scottish Field wine columnist and drinks blogger Peter Ranscombe goes quackers for five bottles to match duck.

DUCK was the star ingredient in the food feature in the November issue of the printed Scottish Field magazine – here are five wines that will fly with the recipes.

Jean Cornelius Pinot Noir, 2018
Lidl
£7.49
Part of Lidl’s latest Wine Tour promotion, which kicked off on 26 September, this is a classic duck salad pairing. The German discount supermarket chain might be pairing its latest limited-edition wines with cheese, but I’m opting for a meatier option. Spun sugar and raspberry jam on the nose follow through onto the palate and are joined by fresher strawberry and raspberry. What makes it such a good match for meat is its assertive tannins, the material found in tea that makes you suck in your cheeks. Sipping on the sample brought back happy memories of Alsace.

Cap Royal Bordeaux Superieur, 2016
Tesco
£10
Few matches go as perfectly as Bordeaux and duck rillette – what grows together goes together. Some of my happiest memories of Bordeaux feature duck for lunch, served with generous quantities of the local red wines. Bordeaux Superieur can be made with an extra percentage point of alcohol above standard Bordeaux, but this example from Cap Royal is still a sensible 13%. It’s got all the classic wood smoke and cassis aromas on the nose and then more savoury blackcurrant and rare meat tones on the palate. It’s crafted by Jean-René Matignon, the technical director at Château Pichon Baron, one of the “second growth” wines of Bordeaux – imagine it’s the coach from a Scottish Championship side moonlighting at its reserve team.

Domaine Jones Fitou, 2016
The Wine Society
£15.50
An Englishwoman in the south of France producing smooth and elegant Fitou in the Languedoc region. There’s no marketing nonsense here – Katie Jones is a real person, making real wines, which show a real balance between the sweet black cherry and fresher blackcurrant flavours. There’s mocha and chocolate in the mix too, plus a kick of acidity and twist of tannin. When you see the phrase “vieilles vignes” on a French wine bottle you know you’re in for a treat – it means “old vines” and it’s where these concentrate flavours come from.

Te Mata Gamay Noir, 2018
Wine Direct
£17.95
Beaujolais’ signature grape spreads its wing to find a new home at Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, from where this duck salad match hails. On the nose, there are aromas of spun sugar, red cherry and red plum, which flap their wings and give way to fresher fruit on the palate, featuring raspberry and strawberry. The acidity is crisp and fresh, and the tannins are supple, suggesting that 20 minutes in the fridge during summer would yield a refreshing warm-weather red too.

Paxton Thomas Block Grenache, 2017
Cellar Door Wines
£21.45
Treating grenache more gently like pinot noir produces a wine with freshness and duck-friendly red fruit flavours. A delicious glass in its own right, but also ideally paired with duck and redcurrants. Another example of the power of old vines, with these plants dating from the 1890s. The Paxton in question is David, who bought the property in 1979 and who still tends the vines. The wine is organic, which shines through the in the complexity and clarity of the red fruit flavours.

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