Saturday, October 31, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 30 October 2009

2007 Carmen Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley
Toasty, smoky oak on the nose, but fresh, too, with crisp, apple and citrus aromas. Concentrated fruit on the palate, nutty richness and fine acidity. A tad toasty-oaky, perhaps, but this wine will age. 14% abv.
£9.99, or £7.99 if you buy 2 or more, Majestic

2007 Passo delle Mule Nero d’Avola, Sicily
Cherry, smoke and delicate spice on the nose; spicy, almost sour cherries and smoky, mineral flavours on the palate. Subtly oaked, medium-full, dry and persistent. 13.5% abv. It comes from the Suormarchesa estate, near Gela and is one of a new range in a special bay in called Delicious Discoveries in 220 stores. Quite the most interesting group of wines shown at the press tasting this month. £7.99, Sainsbury’s

2007 Pietracupa Bolgheri, Tenuta Moraia
If you want a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, why choose Tuscany? If it’s good and distinctive, why not? Lovely, quite complex, ‘meaty’ Cabernet nose, with penetrating black fruit and savoury, cedary, gamey flavours. Medium-full, long, polished. 13.5% abv. Another Italian red from the new Delicious Discoveries range.
£11.99, Sainsbury’s

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 23 October 2009

2008 Tim Adams Semillon, Clare Valley
Latest vintage of this brilliant oak-aged Australian semillon. Mouthfilling, dry and fresh, with smoky, lemon-oil aromas and flavours, textured richness and brisk acidity. This will age well, like previous vintages, so if you find an earlier vintage on the shelves, don’t worry, just buy it to keep you going until the new one arrives. 13% abv. Tesco also has Tim Adams’ dry riesling, grenache-based The Fergus red and The Aberfeldy shiraz - all highly recommended.
£9.99, Tesco

2006 Clos Bortier, Hautes Côtes de Beaune
From Domaine Jean Noël Gagnard, no less, from vines planted by Caroline l’Estimé since she took over in 1989. Delightful red burgundy – pale but bright, with an expressive, fragrant nose, sweet, cherryish fruit on the palate, a supple texture and refined tannins. Pure and perfectly balanced. A very fair price. 13% abv.
£13.95, Berry Bros & Rudd.

2007 Silex Rouge, Côtes du Rhône Massif D’Uchaux, Brugalière/Viguier
Black pepper, raspberry and smoky bacon on the nose and a palate with intensity and unusual elegance (unusual for the southern Rhône). It’s made from more or less equal quantities of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre, old vines included, in the Massif d’Uchaux, which has recently been promoted to Côtes du Rhône Villages status. £13.5% abv.
£9.95, Berry Bros & Rudd.

Friday, October 16, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 16 October 2009

2007 Domaine du Joncier Le Classique, Lirac
Waitrose has beefed up its Rhône range to great effect, and not just at the top end where there are wines like the superb 2007 Côte-Rôtie from Stephane Ogier (£39.99, Waitrose Wine Direct). This red Lirac, from a domaine which I think the Rhône buyer Andrew Shaw discovered during his Stone,Vine & Sun days, is like a mini Châteauneuf – full and fleshy, with nutty, sweet fruit and milk chocolate suppleness alongside savoury, stony, spicy flavours. 14.5% abv. Good value at its full price; even better at the current offer price.
£7.49 until November 3, then back to £9.99, Waitrose.

2008 Tasmania Sauvignon Blanc
The autumn press tastings so far have been loaded with sauvignon blancs (just as they used to be with chardonnays) and a lot of them are sound, but completely unremarkable. This one from Andrew Pirie’s Tamar Ridge operation in Tasmania wasn’t shown at the recent M&S tasting, but I tasted it again last week (drank it, actually) and thought it pretty well unbeatable at the price, as I did when I tasted it in the spring. It’s got the brilliant sauvignon crunch factor, but without the aggressive tendency, and really interesting, sustained smoky, gooseberry flavours. 13% abv.
£7.99, Marks & Spencer.

2007 M de Murviedro Syrah, Utiel-Requena
Asda hasn’t featured here much and I can’t pretend I was inspired by its recent press tasting, but there are some good bottles if you look hard. This Spanish syrah is one of trio of good wines from Bodegas Murviedro in Utiel-Requena. It’s full and generous with ripe but fresh blackberry fruit and a nice touch of pepper and bonfire smokiness. There’s no oak and it doesn’t need it. 13.5% abv. The other two wines are a young white blend of sauvignon and viura (£5.48) and a 2005 oak-aged blend of tempranillo, monastrell and cabernet sauvignon (£6.98)
£5.48, Asda.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 9 October 2009

2008 Circumstance Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch
Rich, toasty and honeyed with dazzling fresh lime flavours, a creamy texture and pithy acidity. It comes from old bush vines, growing close to the ocean in Helderberg, and was barrel-fermented using the naturally present yeasts. They took their time: fermentation ground to a halt nine months later, leaving just under 5g/l of residual sugar and 14% abv. It’s delicious now, but will develop. The producer is Waterkloof which is owned by Paul Boutinot (UK).
£8.99, D Byrne; £9.25, Fintry Wines

2008 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, Marlborough
New vintage of an old favourite. Pinot noir at its most seductive, with the sweetness of ripe cherries and raspberries, a seasoning of lightly spicy, vanilla-scented oak and a whisper of something more savoury and burgundian. Round, fleshy and pretty well irresistible. 14% abv.
£12.99, Majestic and Wine Rack

2008 Otra Vida Malbec, Mendoza
Sweet raspberry fruit with toasty oak, dark chocolate flavours and a clean, spicy, savoury finish. Medium-bodied, rather than massive, and ripe without being jammy or flaccid. 13% abv. This is a branded wine well worth remembering – and how often can you say that? No, not often. The chardonnay is OK too.
£5.99, Tesco

Saturday, October 3, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 2 October 2009

2008 The Loom Riesling, Clare Valley
Smoky mineral notes on the nose with fresh, intense apple and lime flavours, a suggestion of petrol, refreshing acidity and just a touch of sweetness to balance it. This is textbook dry Clare Valley riesling at a very reasonable price. Drink it as an aperitif or with lightweight, lightly spiced dishes. 13% abv.

2007 Nos Riqueza Ribera del Duero
Full, savoury and gamey with polished, sweet, spicy fruit. There’s an attractive feeling of maturity and balance about this, but it’s fresh, too. Not one to lay down for long, but excellent, affordable Ribera del Duero. 13.5%
£9.99, Marks & Spencer

1990 Vin Santo del Chanti Rufina
M&S brought this in last year and I’ve just tasted it again. Fabulous stuff. Deep amber in colour, with a nose that combines sherry-like rancio characters with dried fruit, ginger, marmalade, baked toffee and toasted almonds. It all comes through in wonderful concentration and length on the palate – dried apricots, sultanas, marmalade, ginger, nuts, a mellow woodiness and orangey acidity. The effect is medium sweet, so don’t sabotage it with a sticky, creamy pudding. Sip it on its own or with Parmesan, nuts, biscuits, panettone, spicy almond or citrus cakes. 17% abv.
£14.99 for 37.5cl, Marks & Spencer