Everyday Icons

POSTED ON 01/11/2014

On the face of it, an everyday icon wine is a paradox. How can a wine be an icon if it’s an everyday drink when everyday surely implies the opposite of the rarity that denotes icon status? There are many wines that aspire to icon status based on an indefinable je ne sais quoi, but few succeed. Those that do, among them Château Lafite, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Petrus, have crossed the affordable rubicon into la-la-land.

A brand can be an icon thanks to a label, Blue Nun for instance, a bottle shape, like Mateus Rosé, or even a name such as Mouton-Cadet. For the wine itself to be an everyday icon though, it must achieve the rare feat of consistency and value along with a little stardust sprinkled from on high. Take Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne for instance, whose iconic apogee is Dom Pérignon’s fabulous Oenothèque. Given the many millions of bottles Moët’s cash cow churns out each year at £30-odd a pop, Fraziers, Divine Fine Wines, its citrus-fresh reliability perpetuates its everyday (’ish) iconic status.

It’s not for nothing that the giant image of Tio Pepe dominates the skyline over Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. Having established the brand in 1844, González Byass is today making waves with a variety of innovative sherries, from En Rama and Palmas to vintage rarities. With 20,000 casks at the disposal of winemaker, Antonio Flores, the bread and butter fino remains Tio Pepe, £8, Tesco, until Tuesday, whose light, appetizingly savoury style and briney tang is a benchmark for the kind of moreish dry white that works so well with tapas.

In 1979, Torres Black Label Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon triumphed in a Parisian blind tasting against, among others, Château Latour. Its Viña Esmeralda is a consistently seductive, fragrantly floral blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer and the 2013 vintage, from £8.49, Tesco, Waitrose, Majestic, Booths, Tanners, is no exception. Everyday icon? In my view, yes. Like New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay, which has clung onto its icon status even if the passion fruity, grapefruit zesty 2014, around £25, Majestic, Tesco, doesn’t quite hit the early years heights.

Last month, Sue Hodder, Wynns’ winemaker, showed just why the Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon has become an everyday icon. After the excellent 2008, £15.99, Waitrose, due in soon, and 2012, both spicy, richly fruity, fresh and textured, we tried a 1988 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, around £49, The Vintage House, Vinsignia. For its cedary and gamey fragrance with a touch of leafiness, tapenade and perfectly mature, succulent fruit quality, this is one true icon worth laying your hands on for a special occasion.

#González Byass and Torres sponsor The Tapas Bar Guide by Anthony Rose and Isabel Cuevas, Grub Street, £10.99.

Something for The WeekendSomething for The Weekend

Night In

2012 Root 1 Carmenère, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Behind the stylish-looking label and clever name comes a fragrant blend of carmenère with a dash of spicy syrah from Viña Ventisquero, plenty of juicy-textured blackcurrant fruit and the fresh touch of the carmenère grape’s mint. £8.99, Morrisons.

Dinner Party

2012 Bolfan Primus Orange Pinot Sivi, Croatia

A pretty, pale tawny orange, this is a distinctive white made from pinot gris in Croatia’s Zagorje-Medimurje region showing deliciously spicy apple and peachy fruitiness nicely defined by a lively freshness on the aftertaste. £14, Marks & Spencer.

Splash Out

2012 Eben Sadie Sequillo White

This is one of South Africa’s great white wines, a powerful Swartland white in Châteauneuf-du-Pape style, whose intense stonefruit flavour concentration is flecked with honey while an incisive minerally acidity carries it through to a long, dry finish. £20.50, Oddbins.

At González ByassAt González Byass

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