Published by David Adamick on 10/10/2018
What's the connection between the Danish concept of 'hygge', wine and food? On-Trade Sales Manager David Adamick explains all.
Whenever ‘concept’ is mentioned in the wine world, one is inadvertently led back to the French ‘idea’ of ‘terroir’- something we’re regularly reminded cannot accurately be translated (the French: they insist on having a different word for everything). This month we’re doing it in Denmark - though the wine bit comes later - and the concept is ‘hygge’. ‘Hygge’ means the creation of a warm atmosphere, enjoying good things with good people. Cosiness, snuggling, the dim glow of candle light, reindeer stew in a pot hanging in a fireplace whilst the wintry elements rage outside… this is hygge.
So already you can recognise the massive role wine can play in all this. And as such tucked-up settings naturally lend themselves to red wine, and that red wine naturally leads itself to meat, we’re off to an easy start. Let’s then consider ‘hygge’ as the orbit in which richer, more warming wines circle, some terrific new additions of which we’ll focus on here.
What’s in season? In particular, venison, and our reds certainly need some heft here – no less when it’s stew or casserole. Deep gamey flavours, rich and weighty, Syrahs, Cabernets and the like immediately spring to mind, and indeed Roberson’s new seasonal collection presents some exceptional options. For example, how welcome is Malbec from other than you-know-where? Very. Step up Les Vignobles St. Didier Parnac’s Mission de Picpus Cahors, 2016, with its bitter, crunchy black fruit and sweet spice and violet nose; it’s an invigorating and fresh counterpoint to the rich gaminess of deer. Cleans up beautifully, and from what a great, long-lost appellation!
Equally agreeable is Natacha Chave’s 2016 Domaine Aléofane St-Joseph, though a softer, 100% Syrah in this case. Also with a delicate violet nose, yet rounder, plummier fruit on the palate, it has classic Northern Rhone bitter, olive tapenade fruit with lovely nutmeg and cinnamon spice. Its velvety texture and breadth would happily meet a venison casserole half way. Then, one mustn’t overlook a classic Right Bank option and indeed the sheer value you can find in such satellite appellations as Lalande-de-Pomerol, where Chateau de Chambrun is quite ideal for a hygge fillet in mushroom sauce. Deep, dark, with black fruits on the nose; slightly minty; blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, silky tannins. 83%/17% Merlot/Cab Franc - the second varietal gives real zing and lift and does well to keep it fresh when up against the density and gamey flavours of the dish.
Moving from cloven hooves to fowl feet, we are in October treated to pheasant. And wild mushrooms too can be very hygge. However, we should knock the reds’ weight back a few notches. Here we want more floral, ethereal wines - more red fruit and structure - and alpine wines fall right into place. This is to say from the Savoie region in eastern France, where André & Michel Quenard are in the fore for quality and value. A curious local varietal, Mondeuse, is de rigueur and offers that freshness and lighter, spiced fruit, that takes on fowl and wild fungal flavours beautifully.
Equally so varietals such as Trousseau (from the not-so-far-off Jura), where Arnot-Roberts’s North Coast (California) expression is an absolute joy: pale, floral, sweet spice and gentle, juicy fruit really resonate in the log cabin. The Californian elegance continues apace at Jolie Laide, where their El Dorado Barsotti Vineyard Gamay offers similar. In truer tradition is Pinot Noir: Bergstrom’s Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley gives us more power and grip with beautiful earthiness, spicy red fruit and butterscotch on the nose, with a proper saline streak through vibrant red/earthy fruit on the palate. Utterly ideal with pheasant, fowl and fungus.
Then, finally, to a Pinot that is gaining much interest: that of Germany. Rheinhessen, in the case of Carl Koch’s Spatburgunder, and this is surely Roberson’s best-value wine, at present. Leafy, crunchy red and black earthy fruit driven by a remarkable freshness, and an electric acidity driving from behind, it defies the common price ratio for German Pinots. Exceptional.
Get these, get a corkscrew, get hygge.
For more of our cosiest wines, check out our Wines with Hygge collection and save up to 25% during October.
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