Friday, May 28, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 28 May 2010

2006 Cloudy Bay Riesling, Marlborough
Majestic says it expects to have sold out of this by this weekend, but it’s still on the website, so it may be worth making a few ‘phone calls if you’re interested. Should you be interested? Well, it’s the first time a Cloudy Bay dry (or almost dry) Riesling has been sold in the UK, so if you’re a CB groupie it’s probably a must. As far as quality is concerned, there isn’t a doubt: tinglingly fresh and aromatic, with aromas of lime, spice, flowers and minerals wrapped in the honey of age. The palate is medium-weight, intense and zesty, with spicy citrus flavours and touches of wax and honeyed sweetness before a long, crisp finish. 12.5% abv. As for the price, it’s Cloudy Bay: you have to pay for the name.
£108 for 6 bottles, Majestic

2009 Badenhorst Secateurs White, Swartland
A full-bodied, rich, creamy-textured, old-vine chenin blanc with bags of flavour and vibrant balancing acidty – a mouthful of peach and citrus fruit, straw and honey, pepper and herbs. It was made by the irrepressible Adi Badenhorst (ex Rustenberg) in a fashionably old-fashioned way – whole bunches in old concrete fermenters and finished off in huge, old oak foudres. 14% abv and it carries it well. A lot of wine for your money.
£8.50, Stone Vine & Sun;

2006 Chofflet-Valdenaire, Givry 1er Cru Clos Jus
Serious but delightful red Givry, with a sweet, floral, red-berry perfume that is almost new world in style and a savoury, earthy side that could only be red burgundy; silky texture, lovely purity of flavour and polished tannins and acidity. 13% abv. You can drink it now and it will be at its peak for at least another three years. Classy burgundy for under £20.
£19.50, Stone, Vine & Sun

Friday, May 21, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 21 May 2010

2009 Domaine du Cros, Lo Sang del Païs, Marcillac
This could be one of my desert-island wines – the sort of uncomplicated but delicious red that you could drink everyday, with or without food. It goes very well with lamb – and the local aligot. It’s medium-bodied, soft and fresh, with enticing fresh blackcurrant fruit and a distinctive flavour that manages to be both savoury and sweet, combining earthy spice, minerals, graphite and smoky coffee. If you haven’t come across Marcillac before, it’s a tiny appellation in the Aveyron department in southwest France with the darkest red soil I’ve ever seen. The vineyards go up to 600m on steep, often terraced, hillsides. Lo Sang del Païs (the blood of the countryside) is made from vines about 25 years old, the domaine’s younger vines – the rest are closer to 100 years. The grape variety is mansois (sometimes minus the final ‘s’), which is better known as fer or fer servadou and is also known as braucol (in Gaillac) and pinenc (in Saint-Mont). Philippe Teulier and his son Julien cultivate about 30ha, making them them Marcillac’s largest growers. 12.5% abv
£7.75, The Wine Society; Les Caves de Pyrène.

2009 Quinta do Vallado Moscatel Galego Branco, Douro
This extraordinary, young, dry white is made from muscat à petits grains (or moscatel gallego branco), the classiest muscat, in the port-producing Douro region. It’s aromatic, full-bodied and bone-dry with bracing, youthful acidity. The aromas go from fresh grapes to ginger and lime to a powerful, minty, herbal note and it has a lingering, salty-mineral finish. Uncompromising, but very exciting. I love it. Drink with fish, seafood and salads. 14% abv.
£10, Bibendum.

2008 Land’s End Sauvignon Blanc, Elim
Medium-bodied, brisk and zesty, with ripe, spicy, green-fruit flavours, a savoury, briny flavour and a nicely textured mid-palate – the latter thanks to a tiny proportion of the wine being barrique-fermented and to 11% semillon filling out the sauvignon. These Elim vineyards, which belong to Hidden Valley in Stellenbosch, are just 17km from the ocean. 13.2% abv
£9.99, or £7.99 by the case, Oddbins.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WINES of the WEEK, 14 May 2010

2006 Oorain Victoria
This weird and wonderful sweet red wine from Eric Fabre’s Château d’Anglès estate in La Clape, Languedoc (see Wines of the Week, March 26) is aromatisé à l’érable naturel – delicately sweetened with maple syrup. But it’s not fortified (unlike vin doux naturel), so the alcohol is only 13%. It’s syrah with a little grenache, tastes of dried figs, rich fruitcake and spice and is rounded and velvety. It’s medium-sweet, rather than intensely sweet, and is delicious with dark chocolate (66-72% cocoa solids). The idea came from Fabre’s cousin, chocolatier Olivier Oorain.
£19.99, Essentially Wine

2004 Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru
A great follow-up to the 2002 (Wines of the Week , December 18 2009). Honeyed macaroons, cream and sweet oranges on the nose; pure, chiselled fruit on the palate with biscuity, nutty, brioche richness and a backbone of fine acidity. Five years’ ageing on its lees and six months in bottle before release. Another star from this small and perfectly formed co-operative. 12% abv.
£30.99, Waitrose

2008 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico, Sartarelli
Light, fresh perfume – hints of lemon, peach and almond; a softly textured but briskly fresh palate with a sappy, citrus-peel flavour and a crisp finish. An ideal medium-bodied summer aperitif or something to accompany simply cooked shellfish. 12.5% abv.
£8.99 (£7.19 by the case), Oddbins

Thursday, May 6, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 7 May 2010

2009 Le Petit Salvard Cheverny
This is a brilliant cheaper alternative to Pouilly-Fumé and one of the few wines in which you find sauvignon blanc and chardonnay together. Not that there’s much chardonnay in this – just a smidgeon to give a little bit of rounder, peachy fruit to the pungent, smoky aroma and tangy lime-juice flavours. 12% abv.
£7.99, Waitrose

2007 Joseph Drouhin Saint-Amour
When good, the Beaujolais Cru are great food wines. You could drink this with all sorts of fish, meat, poultry or veg, although nothing too heavy. It has an enticing wild strawberry fragrance and flavour, a touch of spice and a mouthwatering juicy softness. 13% abv.
£8.99, Waitrose

2008 Ettore Germano Langhe Nebbiolo
There was some discussion at the Oddbins tasting about whether this was expensive. All I can say is that it’s delicious and I could drink it anytime. It’s all rose petals and cherries on the nose and fresh, perfumed and lightly chewy in the mouth. It’s not a broodingly complex nebbiolo – just wonderfully expressive of both grape variety and Piedmont. 13.5% abv.
£15.99 (£12.79 by the case), Oddbins

Monday, May 3, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 30 April 2010

Better late than never, I hope. No, don't ask.
2008 Taste the Difference Alsace Gewurztraminer
2008 Alsace Gewuztraminer, Cave de Turckheim

I’ve been tasting lots of Alsace wines for a food matching column I’m doing on and these two shone in their price price range. Both are from the Cave de Turckheim and have textbook gewurz aromas of roses, lychees and Turkish delight and both are clean and crisp right through to the finish. The first is more aromatic and slightly lighter and sweeter; the second is a little richer and fuller with white peach and apricot flavours. Both are 13% abv and have screwcaps.
£7.64 for the Taste the Difference, Sainsbury’s
£8.25 for the second,; £8.65, Waitrose

2006 Le Grand Noir GSM, Vin de Pays d’Oc
Very perfumy with those mouthwatering stony-mineral characters you get from Minervois (quite a lot of the fruit comes from Minervois vineyards via a group of six co-ops). Ripe but fresh-tasting with raspberryish fruit and peppery spice; medium-full, supple, nicely dry and well-balanced. 13% abv. Not particularly cheap, but a thoroughly good, versatile wine with a delightful label. The men behind Le Grand Noir are Robert Joseph (wine writer and general wine-man-at-large), winemaker Hugh Ryman (ex Jaubertie etc) and Kevin Shaw (Stranger & Stranger).
£8.95, Robersons

2008 Château de Pennautier, Cabardès
An oak-free blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, grenache, syrah, cabernet franc and malbec from south-facing, but cool, hillside vineyards in Cabardès, the only AOC in Languedoc where you’re allowed to make these Bordeaux-meets-the-Rhône blends. The winemaker used to be at Château Mouton-Rothschild, no less. Deep purple, with warm, spicy, earthy aromas, sweet, ripe black-fruit, graphite and tapenade flavours and firm, grainy tannins. Opens up in the glass, so worth decanting into a jug an hour or so before you want to drink it. Good with herby, garlicky meat, duck or beans. 13% abv.
£6.99, or £5.99 for two or more, Majestic