Thursday, March 31, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 1 April 2011

2007 Taste the Difference Priorat, Spain

I don’t really know how they can sell low-yielding old-vine red Priorat at such a low price, but they are and it’s worth recommending. It’s a 60:40 blend of mazuela and grenache – dark and full, but not massive, with sweet plum and cherry fruit, Priorat’s savoury, mineral signature, well-handled oak and a solid base of supple tannins. Should last a few years. It’s made for Sainsbury’s by the giant, Montsant-based Cellers Unió co-operative. 14.5% abv.

On offer at £7.49 until April 26, then back to £9.99, Sainsbury’s.

2009 Franschhoek Vineyards Semillon, Franschhoek, South Africa

Another case of I-don’t-know-how-at-this-price, especially as this white, from vines around 80 years old, is fermented and aged in barrel. It’s fresh, rounded and textured, with nutty, sweet-lemon and apricot fruit, pithy, grapefruity acidity and a touch of spice. A bargain – and not too alcoholic either: 13.5% abv. One of many very good and interesting new wines at The Wine Society.

£6.95, The Wine Society

31 March 2011

This is going up a day early because today is the last day you can buy it at the considerably discounted price. Tomorrow it goes up on Armit's website at the higher price. Yes, it’s April 1st tomorrow. No, it’s not an April Fool.

2001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva Especial, Spain

Only two previous vintages of this reserva have had Especial appended, the 1964 and the 1973, so it’s pretty clear how highly La Rioja Alta rates the 2001. Justifiably so. It’s a glorious wine. Very aromatic and high-toned, with berries, sweet herbs, spicy oak, and touches of almond, resin and milk chocolate on the nose. Very silky and smooth on the palate; full, round, ‘sweet’, almost no discernible tannin but remarkable freshness. It went beautifully with roast Gressingham duck and stood up perfectly well to an oozing, although not particularly pungent, Camembert. It has 20% garnacha (80% tempranillo) and was bottled in September 2005 after three years in used American oak. It’ll see in its 20th birthday. 13.5% abv.

£170 per case of 12 in bond today, then £229.65 per case in bond from tomorrow, Armit.

Friday, March 25, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 25 March 2011

Three wines that won’t break the bank.

2010 Cuvée de Richard, Comté Tolosan, France

This has always been a useful, light white at a refreshingly low price, but the 2010 is a step up. Perhaps it’s the smidgen of sauvignon added to the colombard/ugni blanc blend for the first time. Anyway, it’s sprightly, zesty and grassy with a light top-note of sweeter tropical fruit. 11.5% abv.

£4.79, Majestic

2005 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley, Australia

A classic Hunter semillon now at a fascinating and delicious stage of maturity – straw, toast and honey flavours blending with pithy lemon and a pinch of white pepper, and with the slightly oily texture of semillon cut by knife-edge acidity. 12% abv. Great value.

£9.99, Wine Rack; £10.70,

Château Camplazens La Garrigue, Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape, France

Aptly named, garrigue-scented, medium-bodied red, from a region which doesn’t often manage to make characterful wines at this relatively modest alcohol level (12.5%). Soothingly supple with spicy, red-cherry fruit and an undertow of aromatic herbs.

£7.99, Wine Rack

Sunday, March 20, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 18 March 2011

Matošević Alba Barrique, Istria, Croatia

The only thing not to like about this wine is writing out the name with the accents on the producer’s surname – and perhaps the price, but you’re paying for quality and rarity. It’s a barrel-aged white made by Ivica Matošević from malavasija istarska, the malvasia indigenous to Istria, and it’s grown on eight hectares near Grimalda (a village said to have Istria’s most beautiful view). Medium-full, deliciously mineral, smoky and fresh, with spice, honey, citrus and green olive flavours and an olive-oil texture. 13.5% abv. Imported by D’Issa, which has a stall in Borough market for its Croatian food specialities and should have its website up and running soon.

£22.50, Cartwright Brothers in Borough Market

2007 Bodegas Abanico Manium Crianza, Bierzo, Spain

This is from low yielding, old Mencia vines, grown and hand-tended on steep, terraced slopes. It’s fragrant and juicy, medium-bodied and nicely chewy, with sweet strawberry and red-cherry fruit gently underscored by the nutty, spicy flavours of classy French oak. It’s 14.68%, but wears it lightly.

£13.20, Bancroft Wines

Friday, March 11, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 11 March 2011

2009 Teruzzi & Puthod Rondolino Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

A sappy, leafy-fresh nose with touches of almond and spice, then an ultra-fresh, medium-weight palate with herby, lemony fruit and a hint of honey and fennel. A perfect wine to wind down with at the end of a working day. 12.5% abv.

£8.99, Waitrose

2008 Sportoletti Assisi Rosso, Umbria, Italy

A juicy, ripe and fleshy blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet, oak-aged for extra richness and spice. Not complex, but deliciously, even dangerously, drinkable. Very good value at under a tenner. 14.5% abv.

£9.95, Lea & Sandeman; £11.35, Bancroft Wines

2008 Pitchfork Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia

Deep colour with ripe cassis and fresh mint on the nose – very Margaret River. Clean, well-defined palate with the focus on bright fruit, balanced oak and supple tannins. 14% abv.

£10.80, Bancroft Wines

Friday, March 4, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 4 March 2011

2009 Avalon Archangel Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

I know we had a New Zealand pinot noir last week, but this one from further south is quite different. The Terraces from Marlborough is broader and fleshier. This has wonderful purity, clarity, elegance and fragrance – all cranberries, cherries, nutmeg and a hint of coffee with a satin-smooth texture. Very grown-up pinot noir, and the 2008 was just as good, which bodes well. Vagabond, a shop lined with enomatics for sampling the 100 wines, opened last autumn in Fulham, west London, just near Fulham Broadway, and is well worth a detour. 14% abv.

£23.95, Vagabond;

2009 Laura Ascheri Vermentino, Liguria, Italy

A medium-bodied, dry white that is both zippily refreshing and mouthfillingly satisfying. It has quince, pears and custard on the nose, fresh herb and citrus flavours, a hint of honey and a mineral finish. Particularly good with fish and dishes with lots of fresh, leafy green herbs (basil, coriander, flat-leaf parsley), lemon, garlic and a touch of chilli. 13% abv.

£22.85, Vagabond,

2010 Mas des Mas Pinot Blanc Zucco Vineyard, Languedoc, France

A successful first pinot blanc from the indefatigable Jean-Claude Mas. Zucco is a two-acre vineyard more or less in the the foothills of the Montagne Noire and the wine is just as it should be – delicately floral with pear and citrus flavours, a pinch of spice, a rounded, soft texture and crisp finish. A good aperitif; also goes well with goat’s cheese salad and simple risotto. 13.5% abv.

£7.99, on offer until May (then back to £9.99), Majestic

2009 Paul Mas Estate Single Vineyard Collection Malbec, Gardemiel Vineyard, Languedoc

Deep purple with malbec’s trademark Cahors flavours of blackberry, damson and licorice, and some ripe, chunkyish tannins and acidity softened and fleshed out with oak. 13.5% abv. Well worth buying at the offer price.

£6.49, if you buy two or more (£8.99, singly), Majestic.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 25 February 2011

Better late than never. Don't ask. OK, let's just say that enjoying myself in the Napa Valley and failing to sync the ipad correctly combined to get in the way.

2007 Montana ‘T’ Terraces Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand

Montana’s top pinot noir, and very sumptuous it is – deep flavour, long finish. It comes from the Wairau Valley part of Marlborough and has an expansive, sweet, pinot noir perfume, lush, cherry and plum fruit flecked with vanilla, savoury richness and a lovely, silken texture. It’s ready now, but isn’t going to fall off its perch anytime soon. 14% abv.

£14.81, Gondola Wine; £15.59, Ocado

Waitrose Solera Jerezana Fino del Puerto Sherry, Jerez, Spain

Delicious, fresh and equally complex fino from the house of Lustau. On the one hand Marmitey, savoury, smoky and nutty; on the other tinglingly lemony and fresh. It could hardly be better – and certainly not at this price. 16.5% abv

£8.19, Waitrose