Gerard Richardson MBE – a wine that goes well with XL Cheese or steak? Yes, please!

Gerald Richardson4

“How many nights are we here?” Cassie asked. “Six? So we need what, 20 bottles?”

– Gennifer Albin, Teaching Roman

BY the time you read this you should all have recovered from the excesses of the season and just in time for the Government’s Health Advisor to tell you never to drink alcohol again.

That said, the editor wanted a wine column, so I felt it was my solemn duty to drink for Egremont and I just hope you value my sacrifice.

I like to start my year with a comfort blanket wine by which I mean a soft wet kiss of a style that makes you feel as warm and cosy as Gran’s front room and the most consistent grape for the job is Merlot.

Merlot is a really full, fleshy grape which you have to be a born again idiot to make a poor wine from. Its base style is soft, ripe plummy fruits which I find tend to get softer and richer with every price increment whereas other grapes can show marked differences in quality and style.

The one I’m risking my future good health to taste for you Egremont folk is called H3 and is from Washington State in California. It was recently named by an International magazine as the best Merlot in the world although that cuts no ice with the Government Health mandarin. Can you imagine how awful life would be if you followed all their guidance? No coffee no alcohol, no cream, cut down on the cheese and don’t eat red meat; personally I’d rather shave my legs and call myself Shirley!

H3 is a very aromatic style of Merlot with stewed fruit literally fighting to get past the cork. On the palate its full of thick knife and fork style flavours with toffee fudge, cooked plums and vanilla all fighting for dominance. Despite its heavy structure it is as good with a bag of XL Cheese crisps as it is with a 6 inch rump steak covered in a rich sauce.
That’s the real beauty of most Merlots, they are safe whether you are buying for yourself or for a gift for someone whose tastes you aren’t privy to.

As well as making a marvellous wine on its own, Merlot is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon the traditionally cassis dominated style to add some early fruit and warmth to what can often be rather tannic wines that require a bit of ageing before opening.

The classic Cabernet Merlot blend is world famous as coming from the Bordeaux region of France and is now copied all the world over.
Whichever grape is mentioned first on a label by the way is the dominant grape.
Well, I’ve been drinking H3 all the way through the writing of this column and while my head feels lighter and the words are flowing freely, I don’t feel any closer to the wooden box so perhaps the Government is wrong again!