Six Nations, Ferrari, Nerello Mascalese and Cyclocross

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well what did we learn this week? Well, we learnt that Corporation Tax will not increase in the event of a Labour Government at the next election. We also learnt that Jeremy Hunt won’t be giving out big tax cuts at the spring budget. Not what he told us last week, but I think the IMF might have had a quiet word.

We also learnt that the Environment Agency hasn’t been checking sewage permits ‘as frequently as it should.’ We learnt that an Exmouth swimmer is taking legal action against South West Water for ‘loss of amenity’ after she was unable to swim in the sea due to all the sewage spills. We also learnt that Wednesday’s global sea surface temperature of 21.1˚C equalled the all-time record set in August 2023 which means, rather scarily, we’re headed into uncharted waters!

We learnt that there are an almost infinite number of excuses from politicians of all badges on why they deleted their WhatsApp messages. Everyone that stands up in front of the covid enquiry seems to have a different reason, it’s almost like they all have something to hide. We also learnt that Ed Davey is sorry that he sorry he ‘did not see through the Post Office’s lies.’ On the plus side, everyone knows who he is now!

After the best part of two years of ‘working from home’ it would appear that the members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are likely to be heading back to the office after a deal was finally hashed out with the DUP. Let’s hope so, the DUP have caused enough distrust and disillusionment to last a generation. It’ll likely be a bumpy road ahead.

Shocker of the week for me was Mercedes losing Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari for next year. Obviously it is to drive one of their Formula 1 cars rather than join in their new found passion for world sailing competitions. Given his frustration at this season’s performance with Mercedes, I’m not sure he’ll necessarily get a more competitive vehicle at Ferrari; it’s at least 15 years since they won a championship. Time will tell I guess.

Whilst on the subject of wheeled sports, the UCI World Championship Cyclocross is this weekend in Tabor, Czechia. Men’s Elite defending champion Tom Pidcock is not defending his title, so difficult to see past Matthieu van der Poel given his 11 wins from 12 starts this season, but do keep an eye out for Cameron Mason in the GB jersey and Eli Iserbyt from Belgium. Women’s Elite I’m struggling to see past Fem van Empel to be honest, but have high hopes that Zoe Backstedt will improve on her 2nd place last year in the U23. I haven’t seen any racing in the men’s U23 so am completely in the dark there.

Six Nations Rugby starts this week, England travel to Italy for the early game on Saturday (14.15). Marcus Smith is sitting on the sofa following an injury and England have a few new faces in the squad which should make for an interesting watch. We have a man on the ground in Rome taking notes so we should be able to provide a more succinct summary in the not too distant. It’s going to be warm in Rome so don’t forget your sunblock!

The tournament actually kicks off on Friday evening with France hosting Ireland, whilst Wales will host Scotland for the late game Saturday.

We’ll go with a six nations influence on the tasting wines this week visiting France and Italy.

For the white lovers we’ll open Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2022 – £11.49.  This Languedoc estate belonging to the Fayet family based in the village of Moussan close to Narbonne.  The property has a small brook running around the outskirts which provides natural irrigation to give much needed water.  This gives the wines their freshness and appeal; keeping the vines cool in a very hot climate.  A flirty Viognier: shimmering hay and peaches with a lush viscous texture give way to a sensual palate of roses, pineapples and mangoes.  Delicious with Thai or fusion food, or some big, juicy langoustines.

The red hails from Sicily and is Cantine Paolini Nerello Mascalese 2021 (£11.89). One of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, unsurprisingly grown on volcanic soils, it has an easy going personality with red cherry fruits, a touch of spice and a nice fresh finish with fine tannins. I think I’d consider Tandoori Chicken with this, but also perhaps a rich fish stew!

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