Gerard Richardson MBE talks saying ‘I love you’ and a good Rioja

Gerald Richardson4LAST night relaxing over a bottle of wine with my wife I said ‘I love you’. She said is that you or the wine talking, I said it’s me talking to the wine!

Well, good folks of Egremont, the last column was all about rosé but I’ve been twiddling with the hairs on my chest and wondering whether you’re ready for a tall tale with a bit of truth.

A few years ago a prominent international Wine Magazine acclaimed Australian wine as the best in the world overall. The year was 2001 which coincided with my one and only attempt to produce a commercial wine.

Before you let your minds wander, I didn’t use local vines from Cleator Moor or Egremont, nor is the Winery on Mirehouse or Kells.

What happened was that an Aussie chap turned up on my business doorstep unexpectedly and asked if I wanted a shark, yes, a shark.

Never one to avoid being tangled in a silly discussion I said yes and he disappeared to his hire car and came back with a life-size card cut-out of a great white shark to hang on the wall.

Then he introduced himself as Dr Richard Hamilton, a Gynaecologist who also makes wines in Australia and he offered me some samples.

Now at the time I was never short of confidence and when he started talking about the English inability to make good wines, I challenged him to produce a blend to my spec and to my surprise he went back to the underworld land of spiders and animals that jump and did just that.

He sent a few samples over by post which I then advised on with tweaks and we ended up with a Shiraz – Merlot – Cabernet blend which I called ‘Menage a Trois’, a name that will be lost if you don’t speak French but its well worth asking your old teacher to explain. Dr Hamilton then entered the blend into the Australian International Wine challenge and it won best in class, making me the best wine maker in Australia that year and if you believe the magazine, the best wine maker in the world!

Yes, that’s stretching the truth to breaking point but its my story not yours and I’m sticking to it!

We still stock some of Richard’s wines from time to time and they are absolutely stunning single-grape varieties, and if you ever see his Cabernet in the shop (usually at Christmas) it’s to die for.

Anyway it’s time to recommend a wine to try for Easter, so what goes well with overpriced chocolate and family gatherings?

And the winner is Rioja, preferably a Grand Reserva and we will talk about the style in more detail next time but all you need to know for now is that a decent Rioja is soft, creamy and fudge like.

They have easy laid back fruits and won’t line Gran’s false teeth with tea bag stains, nor will your snooty Auntie be able to trump you with her latest purchase from Waitrose.

Best of all, Rioja goes with just about everything whether white meat or red but its particularly fabulous with a good old fashioned roast.