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Mike Tipping discovers some tasty accompaniments to 'sparrowgrass'
Sparrowgrass, I just love the folky name for asparagus, it sounds like a Tolkien character. I love to eat it too, as long as it is very fresh and paired with a good white wine.
Some time ago, I visited vineyards in Franconia, Germany. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we visited, but I do recall it was asparagus season. This was good news as asparagus was the house speciality, cut fresh from a field behind.
It was white asparagus, a little milder than the green, but truly delicious. I washed it down with wine made from the silvaner grape, something of a speciality in the region.
North Yorkshire is a great place for asparagus too, some of the best I’ve had is grown locally. I was surprised to see the first of this year’s crop for sale last weekend, as I guess we won’t see the bulk of the harvest for a few weeks.
Green asparagus would overpower a silvaner. Plus silvaner is not the easiest of wines to find in the UK. Sauvignon blanc is readily available, however, and works brilliantly with this spring vegetable.
Try the following with a plate of sparrowgrass, smothered in butter and coarse black pepper. If you think the flavour-packed Kiwi style of sauvignon is a bit much, choose a wine from the Old World, such as M&S Bordeaux Sauvignon 2010. Bright and fresh with lemon zest, goosegogs and minerals, it isn’t too dry and would also make a good aperitif.
But if you like the flavour turned up to 11, I can highly recommend a couple of luscious wines from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.
The Decanter gold medal-winning Invivo Sauvignon Blanc 2010 has aromas of grapefruit and pineapple, with flavours of passion fruit, green pea and asparagus and bags of fresh acidity.
My other pick, Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010, was ‘Best in Class’ at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. It’s rich and grassy, with goosegogs, tropical fruit, and minerals on the finish.
• M&S Bordeaux Sauvignon 2010, £6.99 at M&S 17/20.
• Invivo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, £11.99 from Averys (averys.com) 18/20.
• Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, £11.99 at Majestic, Tesco and Rhythm & Booze 18/20.