Friday, August 28, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 28 August 2009

2007 Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Verdon
This is a cracking little pinot noir for the money, made in the the Var (Provence) by Louis Latour of burgundy fame. It’s medium-bodied, nicely shaped by gentle tannin and acidity and has convincing raspberry and cherry aromas together with some more savoury flavours.13.5% alcohol.
£8.49 or £7.99 if you buy two or more bottles, Majestic.

2006 Pouilly-Vinzelles En Paradis, Louis Latour
Another cracker from Louis Latour via Majestic, but this time from Burgundy itself. This is fresh, yet supple and rounded, with lightly toasted wheat and walnut notes, scented white peach, steelier, more mineral flavours and a fine texture. 13% alcohol.
£9.99 or £8.99 if you buy two or more bottles, Majestic.

2008 Cuvée Pecheur, Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan
I promised something cheaper this week, so here’s a wine that’ll give you decent change from a fiver while delivering a simple, refreshingly light, zesty, and fruity mouthful. It’s from Gascony, source of Armagnac and lots of inexpensive fresh whites under this and other Vins de Pays designations (eg Gascogne and Gers). 11.5% alcohol.
£3.99, Waitrose

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 21 August 2009

2003 Château d’Or et de Gueles Trassegum, Costières de Nîmes
I’ve just tasted this Syrah-based southern French red again, more than a year since I last tried it, and if anything it’s even better than before. It’s a big wine (14% alcohol) with sweet, but fresh cherry fruit, a nutty kernel richness and a stony mineral character. It’s become softer and more complex with age, but retains a vitality which is all the more impressive coming from the heatwave 2003 vintage. Trassegum is the top label from Château d’Or et de Gueles, made only in the best years and from particular parts of the vineyard. It’s back in stock at The Real Wine Co, a gem of a merchant selling wines chosen with passion and expertise by ex-supermarket wine buyer Mark Hughes.
£11.75, The Real Wine Company.

2007 Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay
First-class chardonnay from the Piccadilly Valley in South Australia – as good a demonstration as there is of the quality being achieved in some of the vineyards in Australia chosen for their combination of cool climate and suitable soils. This has white-peach and citrus flavours, a nuttiness that comes from both the chardonnay and the French oak barriques (used for fermentation and ageing) and a beautifully polished, creamy texture. It’s elegant, fascinating and can only become more complex. I expect it to become richer, nuttier, less lemony, more honeyed, but also more savoury. If you keep it until 2017, it may look quite cheap, too.
£29.99-£43.99, Last Drop Wines, Edencroft Fine Wines, The Sampler, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges.

2007 Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir
Pinot noir at it’s purest and most seductive, with plum and cherry aromas, a hint of oriental spice, the silkiest of textures and an underpinning of delicate acidity and supple tannins. Brian Croser says that the next vintage of this wine, the 2008, is the most exciting that his 41 years of being a vigneron have produced. Can’t wait.
£21.50, Edencroft Fine Wines

A bit of background: Tapanappa is a partnership of Brian Croser, who founded Petaluma, with Champagne Bollinger and the Cazes family of Château Lynch-Bages. The other wines, equally recommended, are Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz and Whalebone Merlot (both around £30-£36). I’ve held back on my Tapanappa recommendations because they don’t look very recession-friendly, but they would be a great way to celebrate at home instead of going out and would make ideal presents for wine lovers (thanks, my birthday is in January, but Christmas will do).

And next week… I’ll find something cheaper.

Friday, August 14, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 14 August 2009

2008 Pieropan Soave
Classico in all but name. Nino Pieropan, one of Soave Classico’s top producers, has elected to use screwcap instead of cork for his 2008, which means foregoing the Classico designation. Daft, but that’s Italian DOCG wine law for you. The wine is excellent – dry, crisp and lingering with lovely, clear lemon fruit and hints of blossom and honey. 12% alcohol.
£10.75-£11.75, Lea & Sandeman, Reserve Wines, Noel Young Wines, Bennetts Fine Wines, Harrods

2006 Balcon de la Villa Tinta de Toro
The reds of Toro in northwest Spain have improved enormously in the last few years. The region has always had the benefit of old vines, but the wines were generally rustic and chewy. Largely thanks to outside investment (much of it from Rioja and Ribera del Duero), that’s not the case now. This wine, made from 50-year-old Tinta de Toro vines (a clone of Tempranillo), is powerful, succulent and complex, with juicy blackberry fruit and vanilla-scented chocolaty oak. Great value, particularly because all that outside investment means that prices have soared. 14.5% alcohol.
£5.99, Marks & Spencer

2007 ‘T’ Toro Roble
This Toro comes from the same co-operative as the Balcon de la Villa above, but is a year younger and is aged in French as well as American barrels. It’s another full-bodied, rich wine, but with stylish fresh raspberry and spicy, mineral flavours. Again, very reasonably priced. 14.5% alcohol.
£6.99, Waitrose

Friday, August 7, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 7 August 2009

An Iberian trio this week. No particular reason – just good wines. The Tinto da Anfora is perfect barbecue material, but also comes into its own with comforting casseroles. The Rioja is a bit more refined: grouse, anybody, or lamb threaded with rosemary and garlic? And the dry Vinho Verde is exactly that – proper dry Vinho Verde.

2006 Tinto da Anfora, Alentejo
This is the kind of wine I sometimes overlook because it’s been around for so long. What’s impressive is that the style has moved with the times without its distinctive personality being compromised. So it’s become a bit more refined in recent years, but continues to be a traditional full-bodied, oak-aged Portuguese red made from indigenous grape varieties (5% cabernet sauvignon excepted). It’s packed with ripe plummy fruit, bayleaf and chocolate flavours and finishes on a dry, spicy-oak note. 14% alcohol.
£5.99-£6.49, Sainsbury’s; Waitrose.

2008 Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde
A piercingly fresh, zesty white with herbal green-apple flavours and a fleeting hint of peach. Authentically dry and low in alcohol and not remotely like the vapid cheap Vinho Verde that used to be sent over from Portugal specially sweetened for the British market. 10.5% alcohol.
£5.99 or £4.99 when you buy two bottles, Majestic.

2006 Torres Ibérico Rioja Crianza
There are few more famous names among Spanish wine producers than Torres, but the Torres family has never been in Spain’s most famous wine region - until now. So this is the first Torres Rioja, and very good it is, with an inviting smell of ripe blueberries, cedary oak and spicy mocha and a smooth, dry, well-defined palate. 14%.
£8.99, Waitrose.