Thursday, April 28, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 29 April 2011

2010 Tingleup Vineyard Great Southern Riesling, Western Australia

Latest vintage of this consistently good wine – surely one of Tesco’s best own-labels (it’s in the Finest range). Petrol, zesty lime and flowery notes on the nose and a mouthwateringly fresh, fruity palate with apple and peach, then spicier apple and lime on the finish and racy acidity which makes it seem drier than it is. No petrol on the palate, incidentally. A perfect aperitif, but also good with smoked fish, salads, slow-roast tomatoes, capers etc. And only 11% abv. has the 2009 at £38.40 for 6 (£6.40 a bottle), which is probably a bargain. I haven’t tasted the 2009 for a while, but this wine usually keeps well.

£9.29, Tesco

2010 Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Rosé, France

Everything a dry pink from Provence should be – lively and refreshing with juicy red fruit flavours, a touch of spice, a supple mid-palate and a crisp, dry finish. The only thing it’s emphatically not, which so many Provence rosés are, is expensive – in fact it’s great value. It’s a grenache-based blend, with some cinsault, mourvèdre, cabernet, syrah and other bits and pieces, and the grapes are directly pressed, except for 10% which is free-run juice from a cold-maceration of red wine grapes. 13% abv. The estate is at the foot of Mont Saint Victoire and the current owner, Geneviève Quiot (Quiot of Châteauneuf fame), is the great granddaughter of the founder Aurélien Houchart, who was, apparently, a lifelong friend of Cézanne. I love connections like that.

£6.95, The Wine Society

2007 Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico Riserva, Italy

A dark, young, but very approachable riserva, with sweet, spicy, smoky sandalwood aromas, ripe cherry fruit, a nutty, smoky richness and softly grainy tannins. It’s 90% sangiovese and a comparatively high (for Chianti Classico) 10% of the traditional canaiolo. 14.5% abv. Ready now, but there’s no hurry to drink it. I was going to recommend it last week as a perfect match for Easter lamb or capra, but I got waylaid by other wines. Still, there’s no law against eating lamb or kid this week too, and it would go equally well with a steak, a butter bean and chorizo stew, a really good pizza, Comté, Manchego etc.

£12.99, Marks & Spencer

Friday, April 22, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 22 April 2011

2010 Garcia Viadero Albillo, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Another obscure grape variety this week, but a Spanish white, albillo, which has been in Ribera del Duero for hundreds of years but which is rarely grown now because the DO doesn’t extend to white wines. Yolanda Garcia Viadero is determined to keep the flame burning, however, and has produced this appealing, medium-bodied dry white. It has floral, fruity aromas, peach, pear and a fresh herbal note on the palate, a soft mid-palate and a clean, citrus finish. Good as an aperitif and also with white fish (eg baked, herb-crusted cod). 13% abv.

£9.69–£10.99, Harvey & Sons (Lewes), Wine Time (Carnforth),

2008 Mas La Chevalière Peyroli, Pays d’Oc, France

Michel Laroche of Chablis fame is behind this Languedoc white, a blend of chardonnay and viognier (85:15) from the Peyroli vineyard which lies at a relatively lofty 400m. Moderate temperatures and the viognier component give lifted apricot and peach flavours and refreshing acidity; maturation in French oak gives breadth and succulence. 13% abv.

£9.50–£10.90, Robin Greatorex Wines; For more stockists, contact Liberty Wines.

2008 Mas La Chevalière Roqua Blanca, Pays d’Oc, France

The red from Laroche’s Languedoc estate is a 50:50 syrah:merlot blend aged in French oak for 18 months. It has bright, fresh blueberry and blackberry fruit with touches of sweet vanilla balanced by savoury black-pepper, mineral and woodsmoke flavours and supple tannins. 14% abv.

£10.90, More stockists from Liberty Wines.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 15 April 2011

Wines of the Week 15 April 2011

International Wine Challenge-induced delay in posting this week, but here they are:

2010 Domaine Bellegarde Cuvée Tradition Jurançon Sec, France

Latest vintage of this consistently good dry Jurançon. Fresh, sappy nose with touches of apricot and minty herbs, and a zesty palate with flavours of apple, orange and minerals. No oak, lovely purity. 13% abv.

£11.95, Yapp Bros.

2009 Hilltop Premium Red, Eger, Hungary

A juicy, peppery, velvety red with spiced-plum fruit and crunchy fresh acidity. It’s a blend of cabernet franc and cab sauvignon, with a bit of kékfrankos and merlot, and it’s from what was apparently a very good year for Hungarian reds. I can’t claim any in situ experience of the vintage, but am willing to believe it on the strength of the three Hilltop reds The Wine Society has just introduced (the other two are a straight kékfrankos and a straight cabernet franc, both £9.50). This blend is 13% abv.

£7.50, The Wine Society.

2007 Racemi Sum, Torre Guaceto, Puglia, Italy

This is a gem, made from a Puglian grape variety that was nearly extinct until Gregory Perruci decided to revive it. It’s a full-bodied southern Italian red with a sweet perfume reminiscent of primitivo and a similar sweetness of fruit, together with lots of earthy spice and nutty richness, but grippier tannins and fresher acidity. Sum is named after the truly obscure grape variety susumaniello. 14% abv.

£9.95, The Wine Society

Friday, April 8, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 8 April 2011

2007 Hatzidakis Pyrgos Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece

An extraordinary wine – rich, dry, complex and thrillingly fresh. Only a few hundred bottles are made from Hatzidakis’s oldest assyrtiko vines grown in Santorini’s unirrigated volcanic-ash soils. It’s fermented very slowly with natural yeasts and is then aged in old oak. The result is a deep yellow wine which is honeyed, rich, creamy and spicy, yet dry, deeply mineral and fabulously clean and fresh. 14% abv. It’s one of several fascinating wines I tasted last week at Theatre of Wine in Greenwich, a shop owned by ex-actor Daniel Illsley and stuffed with exciting bottles. There’s now a branch north of the river, too – lucky Tufnell Park residents.

£29, Theatre of Wine.

2009 Vignoble Guillaume Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays de Franche-Comté, France

Xavier Guillaume’s pinot noir outshines most Bourgogne Rouge at the same price. Fragrant, supple and fresh, with crisp, summer-pudding fruit and a delicate, oh-so-burgundian, savoury, mineral undertow. Drink at the cooler end of the red wine temperature spectrum. 12.5% abv.

£11, Theatre of Wine.

2009 Domaine Philippe Gilbert Menetou-Salon Rosé, France

Lovely, aromatic, pinot noir rosé from the Loire. Fresh, crisp and elegant, but much more fruit and succulence than most pink Sancerres. Biodynamic. Not cheap, but it doesn’t deserve to be. 13.5% abv.

£14.50, Theatre of Wine.