Eating & Drinking: Drinking Your Greens
Ehrlich, Richard, The Independent (London, England)
FOR REASONS of no interest whatsoever, this column is suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. But that doesn't matter, at least to me. Three miscellaneous items need airing, and this is the time to air them. Beginning with an addendum to last week's comments on the issue of organic wine. The most recent revolution in organic drinking comes not in wine but in spirits. It's arrived chez Sainsbury's, with the launch of organic vodka and gin. The gin is called Juniper Green (pounds 11.99), the vodka Utkins UK5 (pounds 10.99). Both are available in "at least 300" stores, and both are products of Thames Distillers, a family-owned firm with Soil Association organic certification.
These are mixing spirits, 37.5 per cent alcohol; we're not talking about competition for Plymouth, Beefeater, Wyborowa or Belvedere. But they're certainly up there with Gordon's or Smirnoff, and the gin is particularly impressive with its decent weight of botanicals. Sainsbury's sells an organic tonic (79p/250ml) to complete the green picture, and maybe there's an organic tomato juice to make a Green Bloody Mary. Or use a trick with Rock's Organic Orange Squash (pounds 2.49, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Somerfield and elsewhere). Dribble some into a tall glass filled with ice, add a double shot of vodka, a squeeze of (organic) lime, and top with fizzy water. Organic water, if such a thing exists.
Item two: the vexed issue of reliable wine brands. Sometimes a name on the label has to be treated with caution: the wines can be good or bad, and you have to pick carefully. But on rare occasions the name indicates consistency across the board. Penfolds of Australia is one, though at the low end some of their prices look steepish right now.
One name offering consistency is that of Fairview, in the Paarl. I've now tasted a good percentage of their wines and have not, at any price level, found a stinker among them. For current consumption, the one that's got me chirping is Fairview Goats Do Roam 1999 (pounds 4.99, Waitrose, Tesco and Oddbins among others). The pun in the name may or may not appeal, but the potion in the bottle will. It's not quite like anything else: a Rhone-style blend (geddit now?) with some Pinotage, lightly oaked, bursting with fresh, ripe, instantly winning berry flavours.
Fairview has a connection with another South African name you can count on: Spice Route. The Fairview winemaker, Charles Back by name, has joined with three partners in Swaartland to develop a new property and train up young South Africans in oenology. …