Friday, November 27, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 27 November 2009

2007 Cedro do Noval, Duriense
Vivid, deep purple; aromatic with cherry, berry, almond and vanilla flavours. Lovely breadth, freshness and minerality on the palate and a silky texture. Cedro is the understudy to the red wine under the Quinta do Noval name and it’s a Vinho Regional Duriense, rather than a Douro DOC, because there’s 30% syrah in the blend. The rest is classic Douro - touriga franca and touriga nacional (30% each) and tinta roriz (10%). It’s delicious now, but it’ll probably be better in two years and will last several more. 13.5% abv.
£13.99, Tanners

2007 Viña Mayu Syrah Reserva, Elqui
I’ve just been to the Elqui Valley, Chile’s northernmost wine region, for the first time. Extraordinary – near-desert, or ‘pre-desert’, as they call it. The wines all come from one pioneering Italian-owned and run operation (where we were served solar-cooked bread and about half-a-lamb each). There are two lines, Mayu and Falernia. This 2007 Mayu Reserva is richly fruity, dense, spicy, peppery and smoky. Essence of Syrah. 14% abv. Watch out for the arrival in the UK of the non-reserva 2008 Mayu Syrah which is particularly good.
£10.99, or £8.79 when you buy any 2 Chilean bottles, Majestic.
Asda may still have some of the 2006 left; if so, worth buying.

2008 Moncaro Verdicchio dei Castelli Jesi Classico
This is such good value – and it’s as happy with food as it is on its own. A medium-bodied, fresh Italian white with more flavour and weight than the average pinot grigio (not difficult, that), but not so much that it wants to take centre stage all the time. Rounded, nutty, herbal flavours and a crisp, lemony finish. 12.8% abv.
£4.99, Waitrose

Thursday, November 19, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 20 November 2009

2007 Kleos Aglianico, Luigi Maffini, IGT Paestum
The aglianico grape is one of Italy’s red gems. It grows in the far south – in Calabria, Basilicata and, as in this wine, in Campania – but that’s more or less it. There’s interest from the new world, not least because it keeps its acidity well, but nothing very interesting has emerged so far. This wine smells enticingly of blackberries and raspberries with a hint of bonfire smoke. In the mouth it’s full, dry and cherry-fresh with an attractive smokiness, good length and a fine balance of weight and freshness. 14% abv.
£11.95, Lea & Sandeman

2008 Ribolla Gialla, Visintini, Colli Orientali del Friuli
Beautifully crisp, expressive north Italian white from the indigenous ribolla gialla grape. It has a fragrance of pears and peaches and a mountain-fresh minerality; It’s medium-full on the palate, with a smoothness – almost an oiliness – cut by its peppery mineral flavour. 13.5% abv.
£10.95, Lea & Sandeman

Les Grands Cyprès Vacqueyras, Gabriel Meffre
I’m probably repeating myself, but the red Rhône selection shown at the recent Waitrose tasting was strikingly good – and in the context of a strikingly good tasting. This Vacqueyras, from the great 2007 vintage, is big, savoury and perfectly proportioned, with earthy, spicy fruit and a supple texture. 14% abv. It’s worth its £11.99, so it’s a steal at the current offer price.
£7.99 until December 1, Waitrose

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 13 November 2009

Some of the old Oddbins magic is back. Quite a bit, actually. So hats off to Simon Baile who’s turned it round – the range at least – in 15 months.

2007 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz/Viognier
This is Michel Chapoutier of the Rhône in his joint venture in Victoria and it’s one of the best new Australian wines I’ve tasted in ages. Its full, ripe, succulent, but not jammy, and has an evocative, spicy, stony, sweet-herb character that’s far more Rhône-like than Australian. The tannins, such as they are, are smooth and fleshy and the finish is dry and clean. 14%. There’s also a denser, more aromatic version which will age longer – Lieu Dit Malakoff – at twice the price.
£14.99, or £11.99 by the case, Oddbins

2006 Castello di Farnetella, Chianti Colli Senesi
This is a lovely, accessible Chianti – nicely supple, but with a convincing chewiness, sweet cherry fruit and earthy spice. 13% abv. Just the sort of wine to spend a cold, wet weekend with. But not me – I’m off to Chile.
£12.99, or £10.39 by the case

2008 Onda Nova Verdelho, Algarve
You don’t need to be a fan of Sir Cliff to like this verdelho. Equally you shouldn’t let the connection put you off. His name is on the label, but it’s just a small scrawl – sorry, signature – on the back. It’s a full-bodied, zesty white with tropical lime-jelly and lime-marmalade flavours. Refreshing, but somehow comforting too. 13.5% abv.

Friday, November 6, 2009

WINES of the WEEK, 6 November 2009

2007 Achaval Ferrer Malbec, Mendoza
Very different from Cahors, but not as different as the flashier, riper, more obviously oaky Argentine Malbecs. There are violets and black fruit on the nose, dense, ripe but not overripe fruit on the palate and an undertow of minerally graphite. The tannins are obvious, but plush and velvety, and there’s some acidity to remind us that this is made from the same grape as in Cahors. Very good wine. 13.5% abv.
£12.49, Corney & Barrow.

2007 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé
You could buy three bottles of bog-standard Mâcon or one bottle of this. You pays your money and takes... but if you go for this, you’ll be getting Côte d’Or quality and style – creamy, buttery flavours and textures pinioned by the magical perfume and freshness of quinces and a fine streak of minerality. 13.0% abv.
£17.49, Corney & Barrow.

2008 Majestic Peaks Pinot Noir, Central Otago
Central Otago pinot noir has been dropping in price as all the new vineyards come into production, but even so this is a drop further than most, especially at the two-bottle price. It’s not a complex wine, but is an opportunity to get a flavour of the pure, crystalline style of New Zealand’s fashionable South Island region. It smells of a raspberry jam-filled Victoria sponge and tastes of raspberry shortcake; it’s fresh, supple and at the lighter end of medium bodied. 13.5% abv.
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy two or more, Majestic.