Friday, June 26, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 26 June 2009

2008 Deakin Estate Viognier
I’m not a huge fan of viognier. Condrieu, yes, but not the vast majority of viogniers at under £20, let alone at under £10. But this unoaked Australian is delicious – not complex, but vibrant, fruity and balanced with lovely clarity of flavour (peach, grapefruit, passionfruit). It’s so clean and well-balanced - and probably because it’s got a tiny bit of residual sugar (3g/l) - it’s a good match for lightly spicy food and takes vinaigrette dressings in its stride. It even coped with a lemony, smoked salmon and crème fraiche pasta dish. It’s only available in six-bottle quantities, but drinking them won’t be a hardship. 13.5%.
£39.88 for 6 bottles, Bibendum Wine

2007 Ara Composite Sauvignon Blanc
It’s surprising to see a 2007 vintage of New Zealand Sauvignon still available. And in some ways it’s surprising it’s still good, but Ara, a relatively new wine-growing area in Marlborough (on an ancient river terrace) tends to produce a grassy, mineral style of sauvignon, rather than the riper, tropical fruit style which can fall apart quite quickly. This has some peach and candied peel fruit alongside the green grassy notes, but with age it’s also become more smoky and - dare I say it? – more Sancerre-like. Given current Sancerre prices, that makes it tempting. The nominal price is £9.99, but the £7.99 offer seems to be longterm. 13%.
£7.99, Majestic

2006 Château Plaisance, Fronton
The vineyards of Fronton were threatened with destruction by the re-siting of Toulouse airport a few years ago. Fortunately the French government saw sense: Toulouse airport hasn’t moved in and the rare red négrette grape has been saved. Négrette pops up in a couple of appellations in southwest France, but Fronton is it’s heartland. This is a textbook example – deep coloured with perfumed raspberry and elderberry fruit, typical tar and graphite notes, lightly toasty oak and gently chewy, velvety texture. Loves duck, red meat, game and sausages of all sorts.
£8.50, Les Caves de Pyrène

Friday, June 19, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 19 June 2009

2008 Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko, Santorini
If you want something deliciously wild for the weekend, or any other time, this is it: a dry, smoky, mineral white, bristling with flavours of lemon peel, toasted, smoky wheat and olive oil and carried aloft by piercing acidity. As it says, it’s wild ferment, meaning no added yeasts, and it’s made from the assyrtiko grape on Greece’s windswept, volcanic island of Santorini - so windswept, in fact, that the vines are wind round into basket shapes so that the bunches of grapes grow inside, sheltered from the wind, or that’s the idea anyway. Drink it on its own or with fish or tapas. Novum Wines is a young operation with a portfolio of interesting, high quality wines bought for them by the company’s co-founder who was head buyer at Oddbins for 17 years – the years when Oddbins was great. 13.5%
£14.00 Novum Wines

2006 Belles Pierres Les Clauzes de Jo, Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge
This red wine is a bit wild, too, in that it smells intensely of the aromatic herb-studded garrigue of southern France – all bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and mint - but interwoven with succulent, sweet berry fruit and a full, velvety texture. The grapes are syrah and grenache with a bit of mourvèdre, and Jo is Joseph, father of Damien Coste who is now in charge. 14%.
£8.95, Stone, Vine & Sun

2007 Leasingham Magnus Riesling, Clare Valley
Zingy, dry Australian riesling with exuberant, fresh lime, apple and tropical fruit aromas, and a juicy lime-peel palate. Medium-bodied with refreshing, pithy acidity. A good aperitif, but also an option with spices and the intensity and sweetness of grilled red peppers, tomatoes and so on. 12.5%.
£7.99 Sainsbury’s; £9.99 (or £6.33 if you buy three bottles), Wine Rack

Saturday, June 13, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 12 June 2009

2008 Yali Winemaker’s Selection Wetland Sauvignon Blanc
Even without giving the name of the producer and the country and region, the name is a bit of a mouthful, but the wine is appetisingly elegant and fresh. The aromas and flavours - gooseberries, elderflowers, nettles, pink grapefruit - are textbook sauvignon, but they’re not at knockout strength, so, you could easily imagine having a second or third glass. Nearly forgot to tell you: it’s Chilean, from Patacon, coastal Lolol, just 30km from the Pacific and it’s made by Viña Ventisquero. A donation is made to the Wildflower & Wetlands Trust (WWT) for every case of Yali wine sold in the UK. 12.5%.
£5.61 (and only £4.49 if you buy 2 or more Chilean wines), Majestic

2005 Château La Lauzette Declercq
A red Bordeaux from Listrac-Médoc that would win anyone over to the idea of drinking Bordeaux. Or at least it ought to. The nose is seductively sweet and cedary and it’s full and velvety in the mouth with touches of fruitcake, cedar, graphite and gentle oak. It’s ready now, but you could hang on to it for another four years or so. To give you a bit of background: it’s more cabernet sauvignon than merlot (60% vs 32%) with a little bit of petit verdot and cabernet franc and it’s a cru bourgeois estate belonging to the family that also owns the Saint-Emilion grand cru Château Cantenac. And, of course, it’s from the excellent 2005 vintage. 13%.
£12.99, Averys of Bristol

Friday, June 5, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 5 June 2009

2006 John Duval Wines Plexus
If you can have a wine that is seriously sumptuous, this is it: a Barossa Valley red made by John Duval, the man who, for many years, made Penfolds Grange. It’s a blend of shiraz, grenache and mourvedre (52:30:15) and the fruit is succulent, fresh and focused (to Duval its red fruits; to me it’s more blueberries). There’s a seam of crisp black pepper and the oak is supple and subtle, rather than a heavy presence. For all its mouthfilling richness, there is real elegance here – and if you serve it cool, which you might want to at this time of year, you’ll get a hint of mint, too. 14%.
£18.00-£19.99, HarperWells Ltd, Noel Young Wines, The Secret Cellar

2001 Crémant de Bourgogne Grande Cuvée, Albert Sounit
Matured for six years as if it was vintage champagne and made from 100% chardonnay – and, yes, it’s been worth the time and effort. Toasty, biscuity with touches of brioche and macaroon on the nose; ample and creamy on the palate with grilled brioche flavours and lively, balancing acidity. 12%. This Crémant is a good cheaper alternative to vintage champagne, but if you want something younger and more floral, Berrys Extra Dry Crémant de Limoux made by Jean Louis Denois is well worth having (£8.75)
£14.60, Berry Bros & Rudd

2007 Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier
There’s a lot of viognier in the south of France and a lot of it tastes like the diluted syrup from a can of peaches. This wine shows what can be done. Textbook fresh, ripe peach and apricot flavours with citrus freshness, good acidity and just enough oak to add interest, but not to shout. It costs about a quarter as much as Condrieu, but is at least half as good. 13.5%
£8.49, Tesco