Friday, January 21, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 21 January 2011

2009 Rijks Private Cellar Touch of Oak Chenin Blanc, Coastal, South Africa

Crème fraiche, delicate smoky bacon and a sappy freshness on the nose; fresh, medium-full palate with citrus fruit, some white pepper and spice, a rounded, creamy texture, and a crisp, slightly salty, mineral finish. All in all, an excellent, food-friendly chenin. 13.5% abv.

£15.99, Virgin Wines

2009 Finca Laderas Espiago, Calatayud, Spain

An unfiltered, old-vine garnacha blend made by Master of Wine Norrel Robertson in the hills of Calatayud in Aragon. Full bodied, dense and grainy, with delicious sweet redcurrant fruit and dark, savoury licorice notes. 14% abv. Perfect cold-weather wine.

£10.99, Virgin Wines

2009 Tabalí Late Harvest Muscat, Limari, Chile

A very useful, good value pudding wine. Intensely sweet, honeyed, floral and grapefruity, with touches of spice and cocoa, a smooth, round texture and balancing acidity to give it a bright, clean finish. 12.5% abv.

£6.49 a half-bottle, Virgin Wines

Friday, January 14, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 14 January 2011

M&S has some good things in its sale, on until 30 January in-store and also on-line.

2009 Quadro Sei Gavi, Piedmont, Italy

M&S has dropped the price of this Piedmont white by £2 because the 2010 vintage is waiting in the wings, but this is still appetisingly lively, with sappy, fresh pear flavours and soft, lime juice acidity. Much better than any pinot grigio I can think of at a fiver. 12% abv.

£4.99, Marks & Spencer

2009 Cartagena Tres Viñedos Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio Valley, Chile

One of Chile’s exciting cool-climate coastal sauvignons, reduced by £3 in the sale. Intense and structured, with smoky mineral and briny notes breaking through the zesty, concentrated elderflower and fresh green-bean/asparagus fruit. In an ideal world, I’d rather it wasn’t 14% abv, but the wine carries it effortlessly enough.

£6.99, Marks & Spencer

2008 Minervois, France

An oak-aged Syrah, Grenache and Carignan blend made for M&S by Gerard Bertrand. Well-rounded and modern, but with authentic flavours of the south – spice and garrigue, ripe berry fruit and warm earth. 13.5% abv. Down £2 in the sale.

£4.99, Marks & Spencer

Friday, January 7, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 7 January 2011

Majestic has picked up a parcel of wines from Constellation at some pretty nifty prices. Mind you, they’re not necessarily bargains, even at rockbottom prices. The 2008 Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Sauvignon is only £3.99, but the bottle I tried was as dead as a dodo. And the 2008 Woodbridge Merlot (£3.99) wasn’t a whole lot better – muddy, jammy fruit with charred, vanilla oak flavours. I wonder, if these had been screwcapped, they’d have been better? Certainly the oldest wine of this Californian trio, the screwcapped 2007 Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz (13.5% abv) was the freshest and best, with a convincing spicy berry and pepper shiraz character. Good value at £3.99. Better still were the three wines below at £4.99. But just before you dash to your local Majestic, check that the wines have arrived: they’re due in over the next week.

2008 Houghton Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Western Australia

Same vintage as the Mondavi Woodbridge Sauvignon, but screwcapped and infinitely fresher, with the toasted character of maturing semillon combined with tropical fruit and refreshing, sharp, lemon-zest acidity. 12.5% abv. Some of the stock is 2007, which I haven’t tasted. £4.99, Majestic.

2008 Houghton Cabernet Shiraz Merlot, Western Australia

A deep coloured, big, chunky, but fresh red blend. Ripe, inky blackcurrant fruit with spice, creamy toffee and chocolaty oak flavours. 14% abv. Again, some of the stock is 2007, which I haven’t tasted. £4.99, Majestic.

2007 Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel, Calfornia

This has stood up well to its three-and-a-bit years under a synthetic cork, but I wouldn’t keep it beyond 2011. Medium-full and butter-smooth, with bright, blueberry fruit, typical zin spice flavours and spicy oak. 13.5% abv. £4.99, Majestic.