Friday, December 31, 2010

WINES of the WEEK, 31 December 2010

2009 Nicosia Fondo Filara, Etna Bianco, Sicily

Even allowing for my unashamed Sicilian bias, this is a delightful and very good white. Aromas of lime, peach and apple, then a flavour that is closer to pears with a dash of spice; medium-weight with a silky-soft texture and a fresh, bright finish. 13% abv.

£10.95, The Wine Society

2005 Château Ricaud, Bordeaux Supérieur

Nicely evolved, modern Bordeaux, perfect for drinking now. Sweet, fleshy fruit rounded out with soft oak against a background of spicy cedar and supple tannins; polished, dry finish. Good value, unlike so much Bordeaux. 13% abv.

The Wine Society.

Noval 40 Year Old Tawny Port

One of this Christmas’s most enjoyed and admired wines chez nous. Sumptuous, complex, rich yet fresh 40 year old, with flavours of spicy fudge, dried figs, coffee and candied peel. Like liquid panforte, but better. Fabulous on its own, but concentrated and complex enough to stand up to cheese, including stilton (or a particularly good Colston Bassett anyway) and dark chocolate. 20% abv.

£81.99–£85,;; Berry Bros & Rudd.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WINES of the WEEK, 23 December 2010

Some extra wines this week for those who are still dashing about stocking up for the festivities – and perhaps even more for those who haven’t even started.

2008 Jean Bourguignon Meursault

Good Meursault at an attractive price – all the more so when you buy two or more bottles. The fresh, tangy candied-citrus fruit is already hinting at the honey to come and the oak gives a nutty, delicately buttery richness in the background. 12.5% abv. Ready now – in fact delicious this Christmas or next.

£17.99 or £14.99 if you buy two or more bottles, Majestic

2009 Costero Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda, Chile

Bracingly fresh and mineral Chilean Sauvignon (better than a cold shower on Boxing Day morning?). It has an almost sea-salty edge to the grassy, lemony fruit and there’s just a hint of spice adding extra interest. The Leyda Valley seems to be able to do no wrong with Sauvignon at the moment. 13.5% abv.

£6.99, down from £8.74 until the end of January, Majestic.

2010 Stonebridge Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

It’s not hard to find New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at a fiver in the UK at present, but this one is better than many, though not to my taste as exciting as the Leyda (above). Crunchily fresh, herbal and nettly with ripe gooseberry fruit and a whisper of something textured and mineral. 13.5% abv.

£4.99, down from £9.99, until January 4, 2011, The Co-operative

Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut NV

This doesn’t get points for elegance or subtlety, but it does get marks for character and ageing – and it’s at a knockdown price. Generously flavoured and proportioned with honeyed, biscuity and toasty flavours complemented by freshness. It’s 60% pinot noir and 15% each of pinot meunier and chardonnay. 12% abv.

£14.99, down from £29.99 until January 4, 2011, The Co-operative.

2009 Gérard Charvet La Réserve d’Amélie Moulin-à-Vent

I can’t keep away from these 2009 Beaujolais – not that I’m trying to. This is vivid, ripe and mouthfilling, with cherry, spice, black-fruit and mineral flavours, and it has the tannin, acidity and depth of fruit to develop over five years, if you can resist drinking it now. 13% abv.

£12.49, or £9.99 when you buy two or more, Majestic

Friday, December 17, 2010

WINES of the WEEK, 16 December 2010

My nearest supermarket is Morrisons. Second closest is the Co-operative. Yes, I’ve thought about moving, but it’s easier just to shop elsewhere. To be fair, both do have some good wines, the Co-operative notably more than Morrisons, but distribution is patchy. If you’re doing some eleventh-hour stocking up at either this coming week, I hope you’ll be able to find these.

2008 Nicolas Potel Montagny 1er Cru

This wine needs to breathe to soften its sharp, tangy-lemon acidity, so decant it into a jug or pour small amounts into large glasses and give a good swirl. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got classic chardonnay from Burgundy – nutty, waxy and appley in flavour with just a touch of oak in the background. Subtle and satisfying. 13% abv.

£9.99 (until 4 January 2011, then back to £14.99), The Co-operative

2009 L’Oustalet Réserve Côtes du Rhône

Succulent, supple red Rhône, full of southern warmth and bonhomie, yet full of appetising freshness too. Ripe berries, spicy black-pepper flavours, a rich velvety texture – and great value at the offer price. 13.5% abv.

£5.99 (until 4 January 2011, then back to £10.99), The Co-operative

2010 Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Margaret River, Australia

Fresh and aromatic, lightly oaked sauvignon-semillon blend – Western Australia’s answer to white Graves. Zesty fresh herb, melon and grapefruit flavours rounded out with soft, coffeeish oak; dry, medium-bodied, nicely incisive but not aggressive. 12.5% abv.

£10.99, Morrisons

2008 Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River, Australia

An enticingly aromatic, richly fruity, dry red from Western Australia. Smoky, minty and leafy on the nose, with intense cassis fruit, dark chocolate and a roast-chestnut richness, sweetness and smokiness from ageing in oak. A perfect balance of freshness and roundness for drinking now. 14.5% abv.

£10.99, Morrisons

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WINES of the WEEK, 9 December 2010

A Christmassy trio from Flint Wines, following a tasting of their wines in London last month at which I was mightily impressed, as I was last year by one of their Spanish whites, Viña Somoza Sobre Lias (Classico), a godello from Valdeorras (recommended here on 18 Sept 09).

Doyard Cuvée Vendémiaire Champagne NV

It’s always a treat to find a new grower’s champagne to recommend – new to me anyway. This is a Blanc de Blancs from five grands crus, together with the premier cru Vertus where Doyard is based, and it’s a blend of 2001, 2002 and 2004, half barrel-fermented. The oak gives a touch of straw and honey to the aromatic, fresh apple and pear flavours and a sleekness and roundness to the texture. Fine and long. 12.5% abv.

£27.95, Flint Wines

2007 Domaine André Kientzler Pinot Blanc, Alsace

More expensive than most Alsace Pinot Blanc, but well worth it – this is a very sophisticated example. Fragrant, fresh and floral, with taut, nicely concentrated apple and apricot fruit and a touch of cream. Silky textured and perfectly balanced. 12.5% abv.

£11.50, Flint Wines

2007 Cristom Vineyards Mount Jefferson Pinot Noir, Willamette, Oregon

It’s a bit contrary to choose this when Flint is known for its burgundies and showed a fistful of good ones, but this is so delicious and seductive – fleshier and a little less savoury than red burgundy. Very aromatic and sweet-scented, but fresh and pure at the same time, with succulent red berry fruit, supple oak and a hint of fragrant herbs. Not too alcoholic either: 13.5% abv.

£24.99, Flint Wines

Friday, December 3, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 3 December 2010

2008 Weingut Eichinger Riesling Strasse Heiligenstein, Kamptal

Terrific Austrian riesling. Heady, floral, mineral nose and a palate that combines honeyed, textured richness with piercing lemon fruit and steely acidity. Long, dry finish. 13% abv. Drink now to 2018, with fish and shellfish, things in creamy sauces and lightly spiced dishes.

£263.88 for 12, armit

2004 Chateau Lalande Borie, Saint-Julien

Another 2004 red Bordeaux this week, but a Left Bank wine which, like a lot of middle-range wines from this (largely hype-free) vintage, has evolved early and prettily. That’s not to say it’s about to start its descent: it’s in its prime and will remain there for a few years. Sweet, cigar-box spice with some savoury richness; velvet texture with a gentle nip of acidity for freshness; soft, round and plump, rather than concentrated, and everything in balance. A good Christmas wine (or Christmas present wine), though perhaps better with a rib of beef or leg of lamb than an assault course of powerful, sweet and sharp sauces and stuffings. 13% abv.

£129.41 for 6, armit

2004 Quinta do Noval LBV port

An LBV port, but not the usual commercial style. This one, although delicious now, will mature in the same way as a vintage port, throwing a sediment as it goes. It’s also a single quinta LBV: all the grapes come from the estate and are trodden in lagars, whereas previously some grapes were bought in; hence the change of name to Quinta do Noval LBV, rather than just Noval. Back to the port: kirsch, plums, ripe figs and a hint of eucalyptus on the nose; deep, rich and succulent flavours of spicy, chocolate-coated fruitcake; fine-grained tannins. 19.5% abv. Apart from with the obvious Stilton and Stitchelton, it goes brilliantly with dark chocolate. Try the red-fruit flavoured one which Rococo created specially for it.

£17.99, or £14.39 in a mixed dozen, Oddbins; also Ocado and independents.