Thursday, December 24, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 24 December 2009

2008 Marks & Spencer Petit Chablis
Fresh, delicate, nutty-straw nose; clean, lemony fruit and a touch of crème fraîche on the palate; crisp finish. Great value. Made for M&S by the co-operative La Chablisienne. Michael Schuster, who runs one of the best UK wine schools, at Bordeaux Index in London, shows this Petit Chablis alongside a Premier Cru Chablis on his fine wine course. The idea is to demonstrate differences in quality and complexity, which the comparison does, but it also always shows just how good the £7 wine is – and it’s only 11.5% abv.
£6.99, Marks & Spencer

2007 Asda Extra Special Chablis, Domaine de la Levée
Sappy, lemony and nutty with a nicely textured, creamy texture and a steely, fresh finish. One of the best supermarket own label Chablis, made for Asda by Jean-Marc Brocard. 12% abv.
£8.98, Asda

2005 Pavillon de Poyferré, Saint-Julien
The second wine of Château Leoville-Poyferré. Spicy, almost meaty black-fruit aromas with appetising mineral, graphite flavours; full and dry with softening tannins and a fresh, ripe finish. Just about ready for drinking and will be good for another 7 years. Perhaps not the perfect match for the Christmas bird, but perfect with roast beef or lamb and a very good present. 13% abv.
£19.99, Majestic

2007 Côtes du Rhône Belleruche, M Chapoutier
Ripe, fleshy, generous Côtes du Rhône from a great vintage. Packed with sweet raspberry fruit, spice and earthy sun-baked stone flavours; solid, dry finish. A good wine for the festive fowl and all the trimmings, although it’s 14.5% abv, so be prepared to nod off. A great buy at the 2-bottle price.
£7.49 or £5.99 if you buy 2 or more, Majestic

Friday, December 18, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 18 December 2009

Some more champagnes this week – and some still wines later. Berry Bros’ full range of grower’s champagnes is worth exploring further.

J-L Vergnon, Grand Cru, £24.95, Berry Bros & Rudd
Fine, floral, honeyed nose with a nicely dry, mineral, chalky-textured palate. Relatively low dosage (about 6gm/l). I hadn’t come across this blanc de blancs grower in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger until Berry Bros’ October tasting. In fact it was one of ten interesting growers’ champagnes that BBR showed.

Benoît Lahaye Cuvée Prestige Blanc de Noirs, £27.95, Berry Bros & Rudd
Powerful and toasty with rich pinot noir fruit balanced by steely acidity and a long dry finish. Vine Trail does Lahaye’s grand cru 80:20 blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, which is also very good.

2002 Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, £29.99, Waitrose
Honeyed, citrussy fruit, biscuity, creamy, intense and refined. This comes from the small, admirably reliable, quality-oriented Le Mesnil co-operative in the grand cru chardonnay village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The non vintage is also well worth buying.

2002 Oudinot, £23.99, Marks & Spencer
Good value vintage blanc de blancs. Lots of perfume, a buttery richness to the palate, good depth and freshness. Mainly from grand cru vineyards.

Veuve Clicquot yellow label, £25-£30, widely available
In a blind-tasting , mainly of own-labels, this stood out of the crowd. Attractive floral nose, peachy, appley fruit, toasty, biscuity flavours and a supple texture.

Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs, £15.98
Not in the same league as all the above, and certainly not complex, but rounded, well-made, crowd-pleasingly fresh, fruity, biscuity and soft. And cheap.

Friday, December 11, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 11 December 2009

A festive selection of champagnes this week. Brief notes only, as there are more than the usual three wines, but they’re all champagnes to which I’ve given a score of at least 90 (out of 100) in the last couple of months and they're all under £30. There’ll be more next week.

Marc Chauvet Brut Tradition, £18.99, The Real Wine Company
Biscuity, yeasty, fruity and rounded. Great value grower’s champagne made from equal quantities of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

2003 Marguet Rosé, Grand Cru, £23, The Wine Society
Vintage pink champagne from grand cru vineyards around Ambonnay and Bouzy. Lovely, ripe strawberry fruit, a creamy, chalky texture and a fresh, pure finish. A steal.

Delamotte Blanc de Blancs, £29.99, Corney & Barrow
Polished, biscuity and creamy with a hint of honey. Supremely elegant, all-chardonnay champagne from the sister-house of Salon.

J Dumangin Fils Grande Réserve, £24.50, Yapp Brothers
Richly fruity, toasty and wheaty. Made from a high proportion of pinot meunier.

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils, Cuis 1er Cru, £29.99 (or £23.99 when you buy 12); £168 per 6, Armit
Floral perfume, with touches of lemon, malt and chocolate on the palate, a creamy texture and fresh acidity. Stylish blanc de blancs from the excellent Gimonnet family of growers.

Philipponnat Non Dosé Royale Réserve, £28.50, Les Caves de Pyrène
Toasty, honeyed and mineral with with candied citrus-peel fruit. Drier than bone-dry (non dosé means completely unsweetened), but properly ripe. Made from a high proportion of pinot noir and vinified in wood.

Friday, December 4, 2009

WINES OF THE WEEK, 4 December 2009

2007 Sequillo (white), Swartland
Dry and full-bodied, with opulent, spicy apricot flavours, steely minerality and good acidity. It’s not shy on oak, but it’s got the concentration and complexity to take it. I showed this on my ‘wine walks’ at The Wine Gang Christmas Fair last month and it went down a storm every time. It’s chenin blanc-based, with some marsanne, roussanne and viognier, but is more Rhône than Loire in inspiration despite the chenin. Made by Eben Sadie. 14% abv. If you’re not a member of The Wine Society, there’s still time to put it on your Christmas list.
£15.50, The Wine Society

2007 Gulfi Rossojbleo Nero d’Avola
Yes, looks like a spelling mistake, but it isn’t. It’s from Sicily and and it’s made from nero d’avola grapes (which are not called black for nothing). Which give it a comforting smell of baked cherries, chocolate and roasting chesnuts. It’s ripe, smooth and spicy with appetising – and slightly unexpected – freshness. 13% abv.
£8.99, Virgin Wines

2005 Perez Burton Rioja
Modern red Rioja made entirely from tempranillo and aged in French oak by the indefatigable Telmo Rodriguez. It’s medium-full, supple and attractively oaky with flavours of honeyed spice, red berries and darker, more savoury notes. 13.5% abv.
£8.99, Marks & Spencer