Yesterday’s temperature was the highest this year, they said. I’m having a couple of lazy days in Sussex, visiting my mum and grandparents. Lazy is the word, and it testifies to the heat. We spent yesterday lounging around in the garden, eating and drinking, with extreme indolence. A couple of trout on the barbeque–we saw to those at three-ish, and spent the rest of the day picking at salads, sipping on wine and smoking cigarettes.
There was a crab salad with chilli, lemon and rocket. There was a tomato and basil salad and some bread to soak up the oily tomato juices. Later on in the day I made a salad with cucumber, melon, tomato, mint and goats cheese, with a good sour dressing. This is one of the most refreshing salads of all, and requires a baguette, and very cold, very dry white wine.
We’d bought a bottle of Muscadet at Sainsbury’s earlier; it’s the kind of thing I pick up when it’s hot, because it’s cool, clear and mineral, and its alcohol is good and low. And Muscadet loves salads, and salads and hot days are good friends. It all adds up. Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Muscadet is pretty decent, too. It’s Sevre et Maine sur lie–it’s been allowed to sit on dead yeast cells to extract their creamy sourness–and indeed it has good leesy character on the nose; as well as distinctly briney, wet flint qualities. It needs to be cold, though. Half an hour on the table, and a new glass starts to have a bit of a soggy armpit character. But I like good Muscadet, which this is. It’s appetizing and refreshing.
The Muscadet grape, melon de bourgogne, produces crisp, neutral wines. In that respect it’s not unlike the vast quantity of Italian white wine, not least in that it goes splendidly with seafood. It is perhaps the best oyster wine. But while neautral Italian whites are very much aboutcrisp neutral fruit, tasting obscurely of undistinguished apples and unscented lemons, Muscadet has for me has the added attraction of salt, stones and yeast. It’s bracing; you feel the Atlantic spray in your face. You think of sunny mornings in French towns: dewy pavements and boulangeries, with their sweaty, bready twang.
This is the trouble with hot days and the perfect wine for it; it’s so right I get lyrical. But there is something understated about Muscadet, too, that really gets to me, and makes me want to sing its praises.
This is produced for Sainsbury’s by Domaine de la Fruitiere in Chateau Thebaud (see their charmingly lo-tech website), and shows how the supermarkets sometimes do very well in persuading good producers to stick different labels on their bottles.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie 2009 | £6.49 | 14.5, lovely.