7:00am Saturday 12th May 2012
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris looks at some soft bouquets and fragrant roses ahead of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
A blooming good show.
With designers descending on plant-fringed London for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 22 to 26) to celebrate the riot of summer colours, there couldn't be a better time to toast the darling buds of May.
While Her Majesty and the cream of the crop attend the gala evening to enjoy a sneak preview, thirsty spectators can tune into the BBC with a floral-inspired tipple.
This year's fabulous flowery displays include 16 Show Gardens, a new Fresh category featuring cutting-edge gardens, and the Great Pavilion, which will be an explosion of rare, beautiful and exotic plants.
For green fingers fond of a fragrant sundowner to match their grand designs, try mixing with Midori (£10.67, 50cl, Asda). This melon liqueur is the perfect shade to imbibe the spirit of horticultural brilliance, and you don't need to be a mixologist to try this easy recipe at home.
:: Midori summer rose 15ml Midori, 1 slice melon, 30ml whisky, 15ml Benedictine, 1 dash Angostura Bitters Mash the melon in a cocktail shaker and half-fill with ice. Pour in the rest of the ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a dried rose.
With elderflowers dotting the countryside and sprinkling hedgerows with their creamy, yellow blossoms, the sweet and spicy flavours of M&S Elderflower Liqueur (£13.99, 50cl, Marks & Spencer) lend themselves to a fragrant martini to complement cottage gardens. Add a couple of measures of Greenall's Bloom London Dry Gin (£25.39, 70cl, Waitrose) and the bunch of botanicals and honeysuckle scent make this the freshest seasonal pour.
:: Elderflower martini 50ml M&S Elderflower Liqueur, 50ml Bloom Gin, splash of lemon juice Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the ingredients, shake vigorously and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cucumber cut into four segments.
Tipplers charmed by the fresh red fruit aromas of a sparkling rose can always experiment with Cremant de Limoux from south-west France. It's rated as the most champagne-like pink fizz without the price tag to match.
For a delicate salmon pink to chime with the climbing roses at the world's most famous flower show, try Maison Antech Cremant de Limoux Emotion Rose (£15.98, www.graysandfeather.com). With its wild strawberry nose, soft berry fruits and pale salmon pink colour, this delightful cremant shows class and elegance.
With the growing trend for still roses, even red wine lovers might be tempted to pull the cork on Taste the Difference Bordeaux Rose 2011 (£7.99, Sainsbury's). Extremely light but in a pleasant way, this pretty patio wine has plenty of berry fresh flavours on the fruity attack with vibrant raspberry fruits, good acidity and a pleasant, fresh mouthfeel.
Rather more gastronomic, and a wine as expressive as its label (inspired by the ancient old "blue" oak tree that dominated the vineyard), Chene Bleu Rose 2010, Provence, France (£22.28, www.justerinis.com) is a seductive cherry pink with strong mineral notes, a symphony of apricot, nectarine and summer fruits, with a crisp, lasting finish.
Chene Bleu crafts its wines using biodynamic principles in its state-of-the-art boutique winery, and is a shining example of how the right soil can influence a wine.
In tune with a large spray of wild flowers, the decorative label on the bottle of Georges Duboeuf Fleurie, France (£8.99, Sainsbury's) should tempt drinkers thirsty for a dainty red with wide appeal. Expressive bright cherry fruit, light tannins, subtle spice and fresh acidity lift this Beaujolais from a midweek supper wine to smarter soirees.
However, if you do fancy vegging out with a hardy red to match the brilliance of the Trailfinders Australian Show Garden, which celebrates Australian outdoor living, try a delicious cab sav from McGuigan Wines - voted International Winemaker of the Year 2011 and Australian Producer of the Year 2011 by the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
From its Classic range of reasonably priced, easy-drinking wines, try McGuigan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon, SE Australia (£7.99, Tesco). A light cherry red that packs a punch, this rich, smooth fruity bomb has ample blackberry fruit, spice and mocha, with velvety smooth tannins and a generous mouthfeel. It's a ray of sunshine in a glass and a fitting showcase for Chelsea.
Best buy Orchards of flavour... Merrydown Cider is offering a host of prizes to celebrate 'Great Village Traditions' such as street parties and summer fetes. Keep your eyes peeled for promotional bottles, Merrydown Vintage Medium (£2.55, 7.5% abv, 75cl, Tesco) and Merrydown Vintage Dry (£2.55, 7.5% abv, 75cl, Tesco). For information on how to enter, visit www.merrydown.co.uk Liquid news Hot off the grapevine, Oz Clarke has it nailed with his latest release for fine wine lovers. Now in its third edition, Oz Clarke Bordeaux: The Wines, The Vineyards, The Winemakers (£25, published by Pavilion, available now from all good book shops) is an essential read for collectors, with an A-Z of more than 300 chateaux and their wines, and will appeal to anyone with an interest in beauties from Bordeaux.
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