Friday, May 27, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 27 May 2011

A superb, rich, dry white with ageing potential from south west France and, at the other end of the spectrum, two appealingly bright and breezy whites from Viña Ventisquero’s Yali range, sales of which support conservation of the Yali wetland in Chile, the UK’s Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Operation Migration in the US and Canada and Birdwatch Ireland.

2008 Château Montus Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Sec, France

Very ripe and exotic, tropical fruit aromas with plenty of new oak. Dense, concentrated fruit on the palate, intense, citrus flavour and acidity and very rich, seductive texture. Perfect balance, so can be drunk now, but will age beautifully, becoming more layered and complex. 14% abv. Drink with rich poultry dishes, lobster, fish such as sea bass, cheeses such as Comté and goats' cheeses.

£20.99, Roberts & Speight, 01482 870717; The Vine King, 01293 771 305

2010 Yali National Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile

Zesty and elegant, with elderflower, lemon peel and a hint of pineapple on the nose, a zingy, pineappley palate with a touch of dill and a pithy, lemon finish. 13% abv.

On offer at £6.39 (from £8.39), Morrisons

2010 Yali National Reserva Viognier, Colchagua, Chile

No oak, no malolactic fermentation, pure varietal character. Floral, orchard-fruit nose tinged with fresh mint; white peach, citrus fruit and fresh acidity on the palate. 13.5% abv.

On offer at £6.39 (from £7.99) if you buy 2 or more, Majestic

Friday, May 20, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 20 May 2011

22 May: as I have a stockist for it, I’m adding another wine today – a delicious sweet white from the south west.

2006 Vignobles Brumont Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Vendémiaire, France

This concentrated and complex sweet white is made entirely from petit manseng grapes picked at the end of October and is thus the earliest harvested of Alain Brumont’s three sweet wines. It’s fermented in new oak and aged on its lees for over a year and the result is intense and richly fruity with dried-fruit aromas, honey and spice, vivid fresh fruit flavours of quince, apricot and lychee and piercing acidity. There’s even a hint of truffly richness. 13% abv. Drink with tarte au citron, apple tart, orange and almond cake, honey and lavender cake, crème brûlée, Roquefort-type blue cheeses, foie gras…

£14.31 for 50cl, The Sampler

I wanted to recommend dry whites from south west France – wines that were among the 77 selected by The Wine Gang in a blind tasting for the generic organisation South West France Wines and which were shown at the London International Wine Fair this week – but I haven’t yet found UK retail stockists for the ones I was going to write about. It’s largely a question of vintages. We tasted the latest releases; wine merchants tend to be on previous vintages of the more serious dry whites, which makes sense because they have the kind of concentration of fruit and acidity to age. Adnams, for example, has two cracking white Saint-Monts, Le Faite and L’Empreinte, but not the vintages I’ve just tasted, and I’ve found stockists for Alain Brumont’s two dry Pacherencs du Vic-Bihl but not the relevant vintages. I’m on the case, because these south west dry whites really deserve to be better known. In the meantime, after that lengthy preamble, here are a couple of the reds.

2009 Domaine Laurens Marcillac, France

A supple, fleshy red with sweet-berry fruit and the authentic, spicy, earthy-mineral flavour and herbal freshness of Marcillac. The grape variety is fer servadou, known locally as mansois and elsewhere in the southwest as both braucol and pinenc, and the vineyards are on steep, terraced slopes with the extraordinarily dark red soils, iron rich soils, of this part of the Aveyron. The entire appellation is only 170 ha. Marcillac is wonderfully food friendly. I wish we saw more of it (The Wine Society and Caves de Pyrène have the excellent Domaine du Cros). 12.5% abv

£9.10, Vine Trail

2008 Château de Crouseilles Madiran ‘Premium’, France

As authentic a Madiran as the Domaine Laurens is a Marcillac. Dark, young, full-bodied, with dense cherryish fruit, dark chocolate, kirsch, tapenade and licorice flavours, savoury oak and solid tannins. Drink with meaty food over the next four years. 14% abv. Caves de Crouseilles is part of the admirable Plaimont group.

£13.99, Nicolas

Friday, May 13, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 13 May 2011

It had to be Languedoc this week. These three were tasted at Stone, Vine & Sun’s aptly named Beautiful South tasting the day after I judged at the prestige Wines de Languedoc competition, both events held at Sud de France’s swish Cavendish Square premises in London.

2010 La Begude L’Exotique, Haute Vallée de l’Aude, France

I’m not sure whether I should be mentioning this, because there’s very little of it, but who could resist a Languedoc grüner veltliner? (No, not exactly a permitted grape variety anywhere in France.) It’s actually 80% grüner, blended with 20% chardonnay which was barrel-fermented in old oak. The result is delightful – aromatic and peachy with a silky texture and appetisingly fresh, green pear and citrus/lime flavours and finish. 13% abv. I’d drink it as an aperitif to make the most of it. Domaine Begude is owned by James and Catherine Kinglake – Brits.

£11.25, Stone, Vine & Sun

2007 Domaine des Trinités Languedoc, France

An unoaked blend of 70% grenache, 20% syrah and 10% carignan with a nice touch of maturity. Dry, spicy and garriguey, with dried-fruit and red-cherry flavours and soft tannins. Very soothing and relaxing. And inexpensive. 14% abv. I wasn’t wowed by the Trinités viognier, but there’s a very good, more expensive red cuvée called Les Deves (50% grenache, with syrah, carignan and some mourvèdre), which Stone, Vine has at £11.75. The estate is owned by Simon Coulshaw (English), who trained at Plumpton, and his Spanish wife.

£8.50, Stone, Vine & Sun

2008 Domaine du Méteore Saint-Chinian Clos du Bijou, France

First vintage of Méteore’s Saint-Chinian, from vineyards just over the border from Faugères, the estate’s home appellation. A smoky, mineral, peppery blend of unoaked grenache, syrah and carignan, 50:35:15, with lovely, full, red-berry fruit, fine tannins and elegant, spicy length. 14% abv. A triumph.

£9.50, Stone, Vine & Sun

Saturday, May 7, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 6 May 2011

Wines of the Week 6 May 2011

A couple of highlights from Majestic’s summer tasting in London.

2010 Nathalie Lafond, Reuilly Cuvée Nathalie, Loire, France

Reuilly is always worth looking out for as a cheaper alternative to nearby Sancerre and 2010 is a textbook vintage for all these Central Loire sauvignon blanc appellations. This is a new cuvée using Lafond’s best grapes. It has a delicious spicy, minerally character and grassy, herbal, green-apple fruit with real depth, texture and tang. 12.5% abv.

£9.99, or £8.99 if you buy 2 or more bottles, Majestic.

2008 Descendientes de J Palacio, Pétalos Bierzo, Spain

This shows just how good north-west Spain’s mencía grape can be in the right hands. Deep in colour, succulent and full, but also refined and elegant, with spicy, herby, sweet-blackberry fruit, touches of dark chocolate and licorice, and supple tannins leading to a fresh, polished finish. 14% abv.

£15.99, or £12.99 if you buy 2 or more bottles, Majestic.