Saturday, April 4, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 3 April 2009

2005 Point West Touriga Nacional
A warm, earthy, medium-full Portuguese red with slightly dusty vanilla-oak, sun-baked berry fruit and a touch of liquorice. It goes well with pork (roast with fennel and paprika or with mustard and honey-coated chops, for example), but it’s generally meat-friendly and, as it’s neither tannic nor acidic, you could also drink it on its own. A bit of background: it comes from Portugal’s western Estremadura region (hence Point West) and from one of the world’s great red grapes, touriga nacional. You don’t hear much about touriga nacional because its main claim to fame is as a component of port, but there’s a lot of interest suddenly from growers thinking about global warming around the world, because it’s well-adapted to high temperatures. One to watch out for. 13%.
£6.99, Oddbins; Morrisons

2007 Vesevo Greco di Tufo
Fresh and sappy with pears, herbs, cress and white pepper – and that’s only the nose. The palate is brimful of apple, pepper, candied citrus peel, apricot and a freshening twist of currant-leaf. But there’s nothing OTT about this dry Italian white: it’s medium-full, dry, zesty and perfectly balanced. I can’t stress too much how underrated Italian white grape varieties are – dreary pinot grigio excepted. This greco (of Greek origin, but it’s been in southern Italy for the last 2500 years) comes from Avellino in Campania’s Irpinian hills, so it’s from a long way south and yet it’s one of the last regions in Italy to harvest, thanks to the cooling breezes from the Bay of Naples and the altitude (over 450m). Tufo refers to the volcanic ash soil and Vesevo is the old name for Vesuvio. 13%.
£10.99, Majestic; Liberty Wines,

2007 Carrasviñas Verdejo
Appetisingly leafy and fresh, opening out into peach and pineapple fruit flavours, a crisp, yet rounded, medium-weight palate and a soft, breezy, lemony finish. Spain doesn’t have the same wealth of white grapes as Italy, but it, too, is discovering that white wines can be more than mere warm-ups act for the serious business of reds. If you want a reference point, think of the verdejo grape, grown in Rueda, as Spain’s answer to sauvignon blanc. 13%.
£7.50, Great Western Wine,