Friday, June 24, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 24 June 2011

There’s 25% off all Waitrose wines until midnight next Wednesday (28 June) in stores and online. Here are a couple of delicious, summery Loires ­– a white and a red – and a very stylish Australian Chardonnay.

2010 Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Les Dix Arpents Chenin Blanc, Montlouis, Loire, France

Benchmark dry Montlouis from the great Jacky Blot (the name doesn’t sound at all strange in French). Wonderful clarity and definition from start to finish. Scents of jasmine, white peaches, straw and nuts; tinglingly fresh, mineral palate with intense apricot and zesty, green-apple fruit. Promises to become beautifully honeyed – yet ever dry – with age. 13% abv.

£10.49 (down from £13.99), Waitrose

2009 Les Complices de Loire, Les Graviers, Chinon, Loire, France

Aptly named Les Graviers: there’s a fresh, gravelly note alongside the sweet capsicum and summery black fruit aromas. Velvety, supple and fresh – and unoaked to show off the purity of both fruit and terroir. 12.5% abv.

£8.24 (£10.99), Waitrose

2010 Prominent Hill, Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Sleek, sophisticated Chardonnay from a single plot of organically cultivated vines, fermented in a combination of stainless steel and oak and matured sur lie, with some stirring, for nine months. Nutty, wheatmeal and white flower/orange blossom aromas and an elegant, nutty, wheaty palate with a creamy texture and mineral tautness and freshness. 13.5% abv.

11.24 (£14.99), Waitrose

Friday, June 17, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 17 June 2011

2010 Esterházy Estoras Grüner Veltliner, Burgenland, Austria

The sort of wine to pour as soon as you get in from work. Before you’ve even kicked your shoes off. Delicately perfumed and flavoured with white flowers, peach and lemon zest, medium-bodied and deliciously refreshing. 12% abv. Nevermind the Esterházy pedigree, the wine is made by Josef Pusch, one of Austria’s best, with Stéphane Derenoncourt as consultant.

£10.95, FromVineyardsDirect

2009 Altos d’Oliva Garnacha, Catalunya, Spain

Juicy, spicy, smooth, full red with ripe cherry fruit and crunchy black-pepper and clove flavours. Uncomplicated, enjoyable and well worth the money. It comes from low-yielding bush vines grown high in the hills above Tarragona – not quite within spitting distance of Priorat, but not far off. Ideal barbecue, chorizo, pasta and pizza red. 13.5% abv.

£6.95, FromVineyardsDirect

2007 Umberto Fiore Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy

Not so long ago M&S was selling the previous vintage of this Barbaresco (the 2005) at £9.99. It now clears the £10 barrier, but it’s good value for a nebbiolo of this quality. Authentic cherryish, dried-rose, savoury meat aromas, spicy cherry and almond fruit, fine, velvety, dry tannins and gentle acidity. All very convincing. Drink with something like steak or lamb chump chops. 13.5% abv.

£10.99, Marks & Spencer

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wines of the Week 10 June 2011

An impressive trio from Cambridgeshire-based Private Cellar.

Champagne Legras & Haas Tradition Brut NV, France

A fresh, floral, lemony champagne with a light touch of brioche and maltiness. Elegant, accessible and reasonably priced. It’s 50% chardonnay and comes from a family-owned house based in the Côtes des Blancs grand cru of Chouilly. 12.5% abv.

£24.19, Private Cellar

2010 Springfontein Estate Unfiltered Terroir Selection Chenin Blanc, Walker Bay, South Africa

A ripe and oaky nose; a rich, waxy palate with intense, sweet and sharp pineapple and lemon fruit, toasty, chocolaty oak and bright acidity. This is a young wine that is still slightly unknit, but the balance is there, the components are very good and they’re already starting to come together, to mellow and become more complex. Drink with chicken, fish and veal, including in cream sauces. 14% abv.

£12.96, Private Cellar

2004 Bordeaux by Hubert de Boüard, France

I suppose if you’re the co-owner and the winemaker of Château Angélus and consultant to others, you can get away with the slightly pretentious ‘by’ in the name, especially when the wine is this good. It’s Merlot-based and a case of clever winemaking drawing out and boosting the best of an unexceptional, though not attractive, vintage. Ripe black fruit with currant-leaf, graphite and cedar freshness, carefully upholstered with ripe tannins and the milk chocolate and vanilla flavour of oak. 13% abv. A winner with roast, slow-roast and grilled lamb.

£12.16, Private Cellar

Saturday, June 4, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 3 June 2011

2010 Taste the Difference Languedoc White, France

Whites from the Languedoc are still terribly underrated, so it’s good to see Sainsbury’s putting one in its Taste the Difference range. This is grenache blanc-based with 20% each of marsanne, viognier and vermentino and the vines are 20–40 years old, so have some maturity. It’s oak-free but aged on its lees, which gives a mouthfilling suppleness and a creaminess to both texture and flavour. There’s a crunchy apple/pear freshness to the fruit and touches of spicy white pepper and minerals. All in all, a very satisfying, interesting dry white. 13.5% abv. Jean-Claude Mas of Domaines Mas is the man behind it.

£7.99, Sainsbury’s

2010 Bolney Estate Foxhole Vineyard Pinot Noir, West Sussex, England

The first English red wine that I can remember really wanting to drink. Pale in colour with a delicious sweet scent of raspberries and old English roses and a supple, fresh palate with a flavour of summer-pudding and fraises des bois rounded out with just a smidgen of oak. 12.85% abv. Bolney Estate is 16 hectares and was originally called Bookers Vineyard – a name is still use ­– and the winemaker is Sam (Samantha) Linter. Fingers crossed for the summer of 2011.

£11.99, and 16 branches; also from

2009 Paolo Leo Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia, Italy

A polished primitivo with purity and sleekness but at the same time an attractive, almost gravelly, grainy texture and flavour; cherry-sweet, almondy aromas and spicy, cherry-kernel flavours with a touch of vanilla. Full-bodied, ripe and layered. 14.5% abv.

£9.99, Waitrose