Sunday, January 22, 2012

WINES of the WEEK, 22 January 2012

Just time to slot in a few recommendations before I head off to New Zealand for the Central  Pinot Noir Celebration, then to Waipara and Marlborough. Yes, it’s summer over there.

2010 Waipara West Pinot Noir, Waipara, New Zealand
For those left behind in the UK, a delicious, elegant South Island pinot noir, tasted over Christmas. Deep in colour, fragrant with roses, raspberries, cherries and sandalwood. Fresh, pure, polished fruit on the palate. Rounded and velvety with delicate, well-integrated oak and a clean cranaberry/cherry finish.  13.5% abv.
£18, Waterloo Wines, Lords Wines, Greensmiths, Martinez Wines

2010 Weinrieder Riesling Bockgarten, Weinviertel, Austria
Very pale. Mouthwatering pear and apple aromas with hints of spice and an intense mineral and citrus character. Dry, mineral, citrusy palate with an undertow of barely ripe apricot and fine, sustained acidity. Long and structured. Drink over the next eight years. 13% abv.
£12.15, Waterloo Wines

2009 Montirius Vacqueyras Garrigues, Rhône, France
One of four 2009s I tasted from this excellent biodynamic estate at what turned out to be a very good tasting of French wines from producers belonging to the biodynamic Biodyvin association. This Vacqueyras (Montirius iincludes vineyards in Gigondas) is a Grenache/Syrah blend (70:30) and, like all the reds, is oak-free, which gives wonderful precision and purity. It’s 15% abv but carries it effortlessly in perfume, pepper, sweet fruit, meat, spice and through concentration and silky tannins.
£12.95, Bery Bros & Rudd

2011 Yalumba Y Series Vermentino, South Australia
If you’re looking out for something lower in alcohol, this is ideal – 11.5% abv, light, crisp and refreshing, with a gentle floral and pear nose and delicate grapefruit and pear flavours. For once I haven't been able to get the putative stockists to confirm (it's a Sunday, I'm about to go to NZ etc), but I've been assured that the following have taken delivery or ordered in the last six weeks, so you ought to be able to get it from them without (much) delay. 
The rrp is £8.99 and the retailers are Gwin Llyn Wines, Hoults Wine Merchants, Nidderdale Fine Wines, Reserve Wines, The Bottleneck. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

WINES of the WEEK, 2 January 2012

Three rare and distinctive champagnes that deserve to be savoured when there is plenty of time, rather than given to partying hordes over the festive season.

2001 and 2002 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses
Unusually, Clos des Goisses has released these two vintages at the same time. 2002 was a stellar vintage in Champagne and 2001 was a washout, but Clos des Goisses isn’t like other vintage champagnes. It comes from an 5.5-hectare grand cru vineyard overlooking the Marne – a steep, south-facing hillside, divided into walled plots that have an average temperature 1.5ºC warmer than the rest of Champagne. It’s the extra sun and warmth that encourage Philipponnat to make a vintage champagne from the Clos nearly every year, even after a wet summer like 2001.

Both 2001 and 2002 are 65% pinot noir and 35% chardonnay and were disgorged in June. There’s no doubt in my mind that the 2002 is the greater of the two – riper, more concentrated, yet steelier – but the 2001, which is drinking well now and will continue to do so for five years, has plenty of charm and finesse. The 2001 is lightly biscuity, creamy and smoky on the nose with honeyed fruit – a cross between slightly bruised pears and bletted medlars – and it has fine, citrusy acidity and a mineral, smoky note on the finish.
The 2002 is fresh and much more perfumed on the nose, with peach, brioche and exotic spice notes. The palate has a malty, creamy, milk-chocolate richness with touches of coffee bean, and tight, firm acidity and a mineral finish.
The rrp for the 2001 is £142.49, Bordeaux Index and Fine & Rare sell it. 
The rrp for the 2002 is £180.99, but Joseph Barnes Wine Direct, in Saffron Walden, has it at £135 per bottle, with free delivery when you spend £100 or more (according to the website);  Millésima has it at £880 for six.
Also available from the UK agent Les Caves de Pyrène.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois
This new cuvée is a blend of the three grape varieties, pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier (nothing unusual there), but vinified entirely in oak barrels – a return to the past. It’s pale in colour with a nose rich in fruit and honey and with the oak giving an underlying, subtle vanilla and almond sweetness. The palate is full and dry with intense, fresh, candied citrus-peel fruit, a crème caramel flavour and smoothness, a touch of almond and admirably insistent acidity.  
£50.95, We Love Champagne; £56, James Nicholson