Friday, July 31, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 31 July 2009

2008 Bisol Credo, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut
This is more expensive than the average Prosecco, but it isn’t average Prosecco. Like everything that comes from the Bisol family’s vineyards in the Valdobbiadene region, Credo is a step above – mouthwateringly fresh and appley, with touches of orange and peach, a softness in the middle and a fresh, dill-like finish. The grape blend is 85% prosecco, 10% pinot blanc and 5% verdiso and the alcohol is 11.5%. It would make a crowd-pleasing wedding fizz.
£85.50 per six bottles (plus £15 delivery), Bibendum Wine.

2007 Castell del Remei Oda Blanc, Costers del Segre
An oak-fermented blend of chardonnay and macabeo from the Costers del Segre region in northeast Spain. Does Spain really need to do chardonnay? You could argue that growers should concentrate on indigenous white grape varieties, rather than dabbling with the international set, but chardonnay is clearly so at home here and the blend works so well that it would be daft to argue against it. The nose is richly fruity but fresh, with lemon, peach and pineapple, and the oak fills out the texture and gives a seasoning of buttered-toast. Medium-bodied; 13.5% alcohol. The only stockist I’ve found is D Byrne, but it’s well worth the detour to Clitheroe for its terrific range of wines at pared-down prices.
£9.99, D. Byrne & Co.

2008 Grove Mill Riesling, Marlborough
Intense, herbal, lime and floral aromas with a vivacious, fruity, apple-and-lime palate. Light-bodied, medium-dry New Zealand Riesling with only 11.5% alcohol, but no shortage of flavour. It comes into its own as an aperitif, a party wine or something to go with spicy food.
£9.99 (or £6.66 if you buy three bottles), Wine Rack.

Friday, July 24, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 24 July 2009

I know that science says that wine can’t taste of its soil, because there’s no transfer of minerals and flavour compounds from soil to root to grape to wine – but Saint-Chinian grown on schist can have an extraordinarily intense, ‘stony’ smell and taste, in some cases reminiscent of the fresh smell of stones and earth after rain. I love it - and this wine, a syrah-dominant blend with some carignan and grenache. As well as the stony character, there’s sweet redcurrant fruit, black pepper and black olive flavours and a gentle nuttiness (13.5% alcohol). The estate has been handed down in the Etienne family from mother to daughter for six generations and the current incumbernt, Véronique, also makes a very good, more expensive red, called Elise, which comes from a specific plot and is partly aged in new oak barrels, and a rosé - also highly recommended. The importer is Indigo Wine.
£9.25, The Grape Shop, 020 7924 3638; £10, Dégustation, 020 8691 0857.

Another red Languedoc, another female winemaker. Let me explain. There’s a women winemakers group in Languedoc, called Vinifilles, and I tasted some of their wines recently and was impressed (the Picpoul de Pinet, one of my Wines of the Week on 3 July, is another). Back to the 2006 La Dame. This comes from just outside Saint-Chinian and is blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah (50:30:20). It’s medium-full (13% alcohol), warm, ripe, spicy and earthy, with a lovely freshness of berry fruit, hints of graphite, olive and chocolate and a velvety texture.
£7.75, Berry Bros & Rudd

The first sip of any Pouilly Fumé should make you sit up. If it doesn’t, I reckon it’s not doing it’s job. No fears here on that score. This has a stirringly intense elderflower and goosberry nose, a good depth of spicy, grassy, green fruit on the palate and refreshing, mineral length (12.5% alcohol).
£10.98, Sainsbury’s

Friday, July 17, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 17 July 2009

2008 Moulin de Gassac Grande Réserve de Gassac Rouge
A medium-full, dry and supple southern French red, with a scent of the garrigue and spicy, raspberry and cherry flavours. If Gassac rings bells, it’s because it’s a second label from the Guibert family of Mas de Daumas Gassac, a Vin de Pays de l’Hérault once famously described as the Lafite of Languedoc. This has no pretensions to be in such distinguished company, but it's an appealing and individual wine that stands out from the vin de pays varietal crowd. Not surprising when you look at the grape varieties – a Bordeaux-meets-the-Rhône blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Merlot, Alicante and Grenache 13%.
£41.94 for 6 bottles (£6.99 a bottle), Laithwaites

2008 Storie di Vite Pinot Grigio Trentino
The first Italian pinot grigio to feature in these weekly recommendations – not that it’s going to become a habit because so much pinot grigio is deadly dull. This, though, is much more interesting than the average and is a perfect, refreshing summer white. It has more stuffing than most and yet retains its effortlessly light, crisp Italian signature – a million miles from the richness and ripeness of Alsace pinot gris. What else? A flavour of pears with hints of almond, fennel, citrus peel and honey. It’s from the mountainous Trentino region in the northeast. 12.5%.
£6.99, Waitrose

2008 Palataia Pinot Grigio
I said it wouldn’t beome a habit and it hasn’t. This one’s not Italian but German, from the Haardt Mountains in the Pfalz region. It’s just as refreshing, but a little softer and more overtly fruity and spicy (think peaches and lemons) and it has a touch of sweetness. 12.5%.
£6.99, Marks & Spencer

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 10 July 2009

The eagle-eyed will spot that this week’s wines are being posted early. It’s a belt-and-braces approach because on Friday I shall be in a part of France from which internet connections, wifi etc are frequently absent. Some of you have already observed that Friday is a strange day of the week to do the weekly post anyway, so I’m trying to decide which is the best day. If you have any views on this, do email me.

2007 Mt Beautiful Riesling
2008 Mt Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc
2007 Mt Beautiful Pinot Noir

It seemed a waste to choose just one of these wines when I liked all three and they’re new to the UK. In fact, not just new wines, but a new region in New Zealand. The Cheviot Hills region is in North Canterbury which is on the east of the South Island, south of Marlborough (got that?). For the geographically-challenged, that’s well below Marlborough and to the left a bit. It’s slightly cooler than Marlborough down there.
The riesling is mouthwateringly fragrant with textbook smoky-petrol, lime, green-apple and peach aromas. The palate is fine-boned, racy and intense, with refreshing acidity and real persistence. It’s off-dry and 12% alcohol.
The sauvignon blanc has ripe tropical fruit (think mangoes) combined with steely herbal, mineral and smoky flavours. I also find a suggestion of green fig and coffee, which I like, but people always look blank whenever I say I can taste coffee in sauvignon (it being a flavour usually associated with oaked red wines), so feel free to ignore that. (For the record, I think it’s a reductive note.) The acidity is brisk and well-balanced and the alcohol is 13.5%.
And so to the pinot noir: fresh, juicy, cherry and cranberry aromas, together with a hint of roses. Medium-bodied, fresh and supple with subtle oak and a dry, delicately spicy finish. An elegant 12.5% alcohol. Well done, Genesis, for bringing these over.
£8.75 for the whites; £12.75 for the pinot noir, Genesis Wines

2008 Dourthe No 1 Sauvignon Blanc
I know what you’re thinking: you don’t need yet another sauvignon blanc. But it’s summer and you might - and this is a particularly good value one from Bordeaux. Dourthe No 1 is always dependable, but this recently released 2008 is another step up in quality. It has vivid grass and citrus notes filled out with some riper peach and tropical fruit, an attractively textured mid-palate and a lively, lingering finish. 12% alcohol.
£6.99, Waitrose, Booths; £8.99 (or three for the price of two), Wine Rack

Thursday, July 2, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 3 July 2009

2008 Château Pontet Bagatelle, La Rosée de Bagatelle
I thought the quality of the first vintage from this winery in Coteaux d’Aix en Provence might be beginner’s luck, but this second Rosée (rosée = dew) is just as dazzling, although dazzling is a bit of a misnoma. Far from being bright pink and bumptiously fruity, it’s very pale and beautifully, but delicately, perfumed with touches of peach and redcurrant, spice and orange. It’s fresh, dry and elegant and yet has a mouthfilling silkiness. Just so you know: it’s 90% grenache and 10% syrah and the alcohol is 13.5%.
£9.99, Great Northern Wine

2008 Domaine Félines Jourdan, Picpoul de Pinet
Picpoul is the grape variety here, valued for producing crisp, bone-dry, modestly herby whites in the hot climate of Languedoc – wines which famously go with oysters. But there’s always more to the picpouls made by Claude Jourdan (a female Claude, incidentally) and they have a wider food application than seafood. This 2008 is as breezily fresh, crisp and dry as you could want, but there is a real intensity of fruit, with snatches of citrus and fresh grapes (have you noticed how few wines actually taste of grapes?), white peach and herbs. 13%.
£7.25, The Wine Society (you need to be a member, which means buying a £40 life share, but the range is very good and competitively priced); £8.45, Weavers of Nottingham

2007 Valpolicella Ripasso, Cantina de Merlara
A convincing Valpolicella Ripasso at an old-fashioned price - I’m not sure how Aldi does it. It has a smoky-nutty nose with spicy, cherryish fruit and there’s a hint of rich dark fruitcake. It’s fairly full and properly dry. Ideal barbecue wine, but it could easily handle some game in the autumn or something with a bit of sweetness like rabbit with prunes. 13.5%.
£5.99, Aldi