My job may seem simple and fun but right now it is anything but fun as I sit typing this I have a brass band playing in my head and it’s entirely my own fault. Yesterday I had to do quite a lot of research in to the wonderful wines of Vergelegen over lunch in Leeds. I got things wrong with my timings and I foolishly thought that we would be tasting the wines with lunch so I’d forgone breakfast. As it was we tasted 15 different wines over two hours with a single bread roll to stave off hunger, and when I say tasted there was a singular lack of spitting out. The wines were, as always, superb and winemaker Andre Van Rensburg was his usual ebullient self. A late lunch and even more wine meant that five hours of lunchtime drinking was five hours more than I normally do so I needed a quick nap before heading out to The Grove in Huddersfield for a meet the brewer evening with Brian from Northern Monk who makes excellent beer in Leeds, we stock it in those new-fangled cans. Hence the fact that I am sitting here and the very sound of my keyboard is a little too loud for my liking, all in the name of research.
So why am I even bothering to type if I’m feeling so under the weather? Well the answer is simple, Retsina! Yes you read that right, Retsina is something I feel so compelled to tell you about that I am even prepared to type through the pain. Most people have heard of Retsina in much the same way that most people have heard of Showaddywaddy. They were both big once but that was back in the seventies and eighties and the memories are not great (I actually saw Showaddywaddy live back in the early 90’s at The Frontier in Batley, it’s a very long story). Well both of them are still around and whilst Showaddywaddy’s last studio album ‘The Sun Album (I Betcha Gonna Like It)’ failed to chart I’ve found a Retsina that will help to banish any thoughts of package holidays to Greece and naff teddy boy jackets.
First of all let’s have a look at what exactly Retsina is. Well it is an EU protected designated appellation so it’s topical-ish. The long and short of it is that Retsina is made like any other white wine except that some pieces of pine tree resin (Pinus helepensis if you must know) are added in cotton bags for part of the vinification process, they are removed once the required flavour has been achieved.
I was seriously surprised and impressed by this wine, I’d never tried Retsina before so I didn’t have a frame of reference but I wasn’t expecting much. What I got however was a wine which is awash with spring blossom, lemon notes and a grapey fleshiness but with this delightful herbaceous undertone from the pine resin which sits nicely alongside the other flavours and never dominates. Seriously this is a terrific bottle of wine in its own right and there is no novelty value in it just good old fashioned wine making expertise.
This would be perfect with a plate of tempura vegetables or seafood but I had a few glasses last week with some saucisson whilst doing the ironing so that’s a new food and wine match. As I’ve previously mentioned I’d never tried Retsina before so there is a very good chance that many people won’t have and that even if you have then it certainly wasn’t one that tasted like this. To that end I want as many of you as possible to try it so if you are of the curious mind then no matter what day you call in then we will have a bottle ready to taste, who knows I may even bring my ironing board in.
Domaine Papagiannakos Retsina