Friday, July 30, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 30 July 2010

2009 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire, Côtes du Roussillon
Not for nothing called Cuvée Centenaire: the vines that produce this rich, yet steely, dry white are at least a century old. They're mostly Grenache Blanc with about a fifth Roussanne, and home for the last 100 years has been dry, stony hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean. The 2009 has ripe, juicy, greengage, herb and citrus flavours with a touch of honey, a hint of oak and a long mineral finish. 13.5% abv.
£10.49, Noel Young; £58.50 for 6 bottles, Bibendum.

2009 Fiano Fremendo, Sannio
From Sannio in Campania, northeast of Naples, a medium-full, dry white with spicy herb, pear and lemon flavours and balancing acidity. Food-friendly, but also a good stand-alone wine. 13.5% abv.
£8.74, or £6.99 when you buy 2 or more bottles, Majestic.

2008 Corte Giara Valpolicella Ripasso
Deep coloured, full, rounded, velvety Valpolicella, made supple by the traditional Ripasso method of fermentation. Seductive fruitcake, cherry and plum perfume; sweet dried-fruit, bitter chocolate, coffee, cherry and prune flavours on the palate.
£10.99, Hedley Wright; Noel Young.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 23 July 2010

2009 Domaine de Sours, Bordeaux Rosé
I don’t know where you are but it’s definitely rosé weather where I am, although we all know that pink wine is no longer seasonal. Or not as seasonal as it was. Anyway back to Domaine de Sours, the cheaper version of Château de Sours, in a particularly successful vintage. This is Merlot rosé at its most pleasurable: packed with really juicy strawberry and blackcurrant flavours and just a suggestion of tannin to give it a bit of backbone; medium-bodied, fresh and dry – in fact, drier than some prevous vintages have tasted. 13% abv.
£6.59, Sainsbury’s

2008 Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run Sauvignon Blanc, Coastal Region
Yes, it’s also sauvignon blanc weather, although this one from the Cape is pretty serious stuff and deserves a bit of respect (go polish those flip-flops) and will be just as good in deep mid-winter. It has fresh asparagus and sweet minted-peas on the nose, a crisp, but textured palate (thanks to 6 months on lees) and salty, mineral and sweet green-fruit flavours. It’s balanced, elegant and long and wears its 14% abv lightly. I only wish it was more more widely available.

2008 Katnook Estate Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra
Founder’s Block is, as Domaine de Sours is to Château de Sours, the more affordable, more approachable version of Katnook Estate Cabernet. It’s ripe and nicely fleshy with a fresh minty, herbal Coonawarra signature, blueberry fruit, a touch of chocolate and a bit of soft, spicy oak in the background. More versatile with food than bigger, denser, more tannic Cabernets: as happy with herby roast chicken as it is with lamb, duck, beef and veggie dishes. 13.5% abv.
£9.99, Waitrose

Friday, July 16, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 16 July 2010

2008 Château d’Orschwihr Riesling Bollenberg, Alsace
Delicious, dry Alsace riesling with dazzling, honeyed apple and apricot fruit and steely, fresh acidity. Goes very well with spicy Asian food and all sorts of fish, but also makes a perfect aperitif. 12.5% abv.
£13.99, or £11.19 by the case, Oddbins

2008 Marquis de Pennautier Oc Chardonnay Terroirs d’Altitude
Polished, elegant, burgundy-style chardonnay, with lemon-butter fruit, delicate nutty oak, a touch of spice, lovely, crisp acidity and good length. 13.5% abv.
£8.99, Majestic

2009 Anakena Pinot Noir, Rapel Valley
Persuasive, aromatic pinot noir at a bargain price. It’s medium-bodied with strawberryish fruit, an attractive spicy note, a butter-smooth texture and a fresh, clean finish. Not complex, but great value. 13% abv. Serve cool in hot weather.
£7.38, The Sampler

Saturday, July 10, 2010

WiNES of the WEEK 9 July 2010

2009 Ca’ dei Frati Rosa dei Frati, Riviera del Garda Bresciano
Medium-dry rosé, but don’t let that put you off. This is a delicious, hot weather wine – vibrant, balanced and stylish. It’s from the western shores of Lake Garda and is humming with spicy strawberry and cherry fruit and soft, fresh acidity. For the record, it’s made from 60% groppello (sounds like a villain in a Verdi opera, but is a local red variety) with 15% each of marzemino and sangiovese and 10% barbera. 12.5% abv.
£15, Hanging Ditch.

2008 Castel d’Encus Thalarn, Costers del Segre
We gave this wonderful Spanish syrah the trophy for Best New Discovery in the 2010 New Wave Spain Awards. It has vivid varietal flavours – freshly ground black pepper, smoke and summer-pudding red berries – a lush, silky texture and long, fresh finish. 14.5% abv. H2Vin is a new company set up by Christian Honorez (ex Genesis Wines). Well worth investigating.

There are lots of good southern hemisphere sauvignons around at the moment. Here are two from Chile that come in just below £8 and have screwcaps to preserve their youthful vim (and save the hassle of corkscrews in the garden or on the picnic).
2009 Castillo de Molina Sauvignon Blanc, Elqui Valley
Bristlingly fresh gooseberry and elderflower on the nose; zesty, elderflower and spicy pea-pod flavours on the palate. Medium-bodied and well-balanced. Perfect summer wine. 13% abv.
£7.99, Sainsbury’s

2009 Palo Alto Sauvignon Blanc, Maule Valley
Fresh and zingy with ripe gooseberry fruit, herbal, nettle and lemongrass flavours and a touch of sweetness on the finish. Medium-bodied; 13% abv.
£7.81, Asda

Friday, July 2, 2010

WiNES of the WEEK, 2 July 2010

2009 Fief Guérin Vieilles Vignes, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie 2009
A white that’ll hit the spot when you want something dry, sappy, yeasty and mouthwateringly fresh as an antidote to the commercial fruit-bomb wine style. There are hints of apple, pear and lime zest and the ageing sur lie (on its lees) has enriched the texture and given a delicate nuttiness, but this wine is much more about refreshment, nuance and understatement. A winner with plain shellfish, including oysters when there's an 'r' in the month. 12.1% abv.
£6.49, but on offer at £5.19 from 7 July to 3 August, Waitrose.

2009 1907 Single Vineyard Malbec, Mendoza
This is a case where it would be better if I put the vintage after the wine name, but it would be even more confusing if I did it for just this one. So, to clarify, the wine is called 1907, which is the date the vineyard, named Chiaramonte, was originally planted. It’s dark, powerful and fairly oaky at present (after four months in new French barrels), but there’s plenty of really good Malbec flavour – crushed black peppercorns, dense black-fruit and acid freshness. A great wine to have with a rare steak or magret de canard. It’s also organic and Fairtrade. 13.8% abv.
On offer at £45 for 6, (down from £60 for 6).

I tasted a baker’s dozen of The Wine Society’s own-label wines at £5.75–£7.95 recently and was impressed by the quality and value. I particularly liked the following; they’re all labelled The Society’s:
2009 Touraine Sauvignon – crisp, ripe and grapefruity, (12.5% abv), £7.50;
2009 Pinot Grigio Venezia-Giulia – leafy lemon and apricot flavours and much more flavour than most Pinot Grigio at this price (13% abv), £7.95;
2007 Corbières – aromatic, herby and spicy with sweet raspberry fruit (13.5% abv), £6.95;
2006 Rioja Crianza – mellow and cedary with soft vanilla and spice (13% abv), £7.50;
2009 Argentine Malbec – full, fleshy, vibrant and spicy with a crisp finish (14% abv), £5.95.