Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wines for Christmas 2012, part 2

2000 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart, Champagne
Pale gold, fine bubbles, beautifully developed aromas and flavours of honey, biscuit and toast, candied orange and grapefruit and a hint of exotic spice. Supple texture supported all the way by a core of fine, lively acidity. Mature and delicious.
£78–£79.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, Jeroboams, Roberson

2011 Paparuda Pinot Noir, Timisoara, Romania
Pinot noir bargain of the year. Aromatic, fresh, juicy, cherry and strawberry fruit; clean, soft and more or less tannin-free; Beaujolais-esque.  A good wine for boxing day and a good party red. 13.5%.  There’s a Paparuda pinot grigio, too, which is not in the same league, but it’s good value, has some character and makes a useful party wine or aperitif.
£6.50, Tanners (Wine Rack and Adnams are currently out of stock online, but you might be lucky and find the odd bottle in a shop).

Brilliant Beaujolais:
Berry Bros & Rudd has a terrific range of 2011s. I’ve highlighted just a handful below, The L C Desvignes Morgon Côte de Py really deserves to be kept another two years for the densely packed exotic black fruit, savoury mineral notes and firm tannins to unfold. The first three are all delicious now but could be kept at least three years – even the Chatoux if you wanted to.
2011 Alain Chatoux Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes, 12.5%. £10.95
2011 Château Grange Cochard Morgon Vieilles Vignes, 13%. £13.95
2011 Domaine Julien Sunier Fleurie, 12.5%. £19.50
2011 Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon Côte de Py, 13%. £17.25

In contrast to the youngsters above:
2009 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly, Les Griottes de Bulhie
Griottes by name, griottes (cherries) by flavour and burgundian in style. Rich, ripe, velvety Beaujolais that has develeoped a red burgundy sweetness and savoury flavour as it has matured – and it still has three or four years in it. 12.5%.
£16, The Wine Society

2009 Churchill’s Estates Douro, Portugal
Stylish, oak-matured red from port producer Churchill’s. A nose of violets and black fruits and a full, rounded, very silky palate with vanilla-framed fruit underpinned by classic Douro mineral notes. Could be one for Christmas goose. 14%.
£10.95 Tanners

2010 Tanners Douro Red, Portugal
A smart move by Tanners – an own-label Douro red made for it by Duorum, a joint venture between João-Portugal Ramos and José Maria Soares Franco. Medium-bodied with a fresh, smoky aroma, flavours of blueberry, liquorice and cocoa and soft tannins.
£7.90, Tanners

2008 Miguel Torres Cordillera Carignan Reserva Privada, Maule, Chile
Fruit from carignan vines up to 80 years old blended with a little merlot and syrah. Concentrated, ripe and peppery with ripe black fruit, a rich texture, and velvety tannins lifted by fresh acidity on the finish. 14%.
£12.95, Amps Fine Wines

2007 Torres Mas La Plana, Penedès, Spain
Very young, but an excellent Mas La Plana and a benchmark cabernet sauvignon. A rigorous but fine-boned structure and polished oak underscoring deep cassis fruit, liquorice, spice and sweet cigar-box flavours. Great ageing potential. 14%.
£30, Majestic (fine wine range)

2010 La Báscula Turret Fields Monastrell & Syrah, Jumilla, Spain
Warm, full and fleshy, oak-aged red with blueberry fruit, vanilla, peppery spice and very soft tannins. What makes this stand out from the big-bold-ripe crowd is its definition and freshness. La Bascula is a Spanish collaboration between Bruce Jack from South Africa and Ed Adams, a British Master of Wine. 14.5%.
£9.95, The Old Bridge Wine Shop
There’s a white, too, which is just as good, again combining flesh with freshness: 2011 La Bascula Catalan Eagle Garnacha Blanca Viognier from Catalunya (13%), £9.99, Noel Young Wines.

2009 Las Moras Viognier, San Juan, Argentina
Very fresh, lightly honeyed sweet wine with succulent apricot and peach fruit and zesty orange acidity. Good with sweet (but not too sharp) apple desserts, fruit salad and fruit-and-meringue combinations. 11.5%.
£9.99 for 50cl, Virgin Wines

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wines for Christmas 2012, part 1

Champagne and sparkling
2000 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
An effortlessly complex, elegant but rich, all-chardonnay grand cru. Tremendous length. For me, this was the star of The Wine Gang’s recent Prestige Champagne event.
£140. 75, Corking Wines (Yorkshire), and others

Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs, Avize, Champagne
Fine-boned chardonnay champagne from the grand cru of Avize. Delicately biscuity, creamy and supple with notes of crisp, candied citrus, peach and apple. Good value.
£25.99, Cadman Fine Wines

Krug Grande Cuvée, Champagne
I tasted Krug for the first time in ages recently. I’d forgotten how good it is – such depth of flavour and texture – but even better was the bottle that had been released three of four years earlier. More honeyed and biscuity yet still ineffably fresh.
£127.00, Waitrose

2006 Louis Roederer Brut, Champagne
The pinot noir (70% of the blend) gives a dense, smooth wine-like quality to this Roederer vintage, alongside succulent fruit, flavours of brioche and toasted hazelnut and minerally acidity.
£44.10, Tanners, and others.

2008 Le Soula (white), Pays des Côtes Catalanes-Fenouillèdes, Roussillon, France
Fascinating, complex wine. Lemon, spicy resin and oak aromas. A dry, full, supple-textured palate with stony mineral and citrus flavours and dazzling natural acidity. Long and still quite tight. It’s made from tiny yields of 23-year-old bush vines, grown high up and free from pesticides and chemical fertilisers on decomposed granite. The blend is just over a third each of sauvignon blanc and macabeu with vermentino (19%), grenache gris and blanc, marsanne, roussanne, malvoise de roussillon and chardonnay. Vinification is traditional with natural yeasts. Aged partly in oak (some new) and partly tank, 18 months on lees.  Unfined, light filtration.  
£23.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, and others

2011 Domaine Saparale Corse Sartène, Corsica, France
This is an unoaked vermentino, a grape variety on a roll (yes, I know, one of its synonyms is rolle).  Good examples like this combine a richness of texture with pithy acidity, aromatic herb and lemon flavours and a sea-salty tang, although that could be because it’s often grown near the sea. A great wine for Christmas eve if you’re having fish or seafood. 13.5%.
£13.70, Yapp Brothers

2011 Herdade de Esporão Verdelho, Alentejo, Portugal
Delicate jasmine scent with supple lime and grapefruit flavours. Medium-bodied and dry with a lick of grapefruit on the finish. Attractive, characterful verdelho. 13.5%.
£8.95, The Wine Society

2011 Valle Pradinhos Branco, VR Transmontano, Portugal
Unusual blend of gewurztraminer, riesling and malvasia fina from mature vineyards in the remote, hilly region of Trás-os-Montes near the Spanish border. Aromatic and floral with grape, spice and citrus flavours. Medium-full and smooth-textured, but lively and fresh with a lingering citrus finish. 13.5%. See also the Valle Pradinhos red below.
£10.95, The Wine Society

2011 Guerrieri Rizzardi Costeggiola Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy
Excellent single-vineyard Soave with some chardonnay adding richness to the garganega. Fresh, elegant, almond-nougat perfume and beautifully textured palate with nutty, lightly flavours. Real depth and length. 13.5%
£14.99, Fortnum & Mason

2011 Seven Springs Unoaked Chardonnay, Overberg, South Africa
It’s good to find a successful unoaked chardonnay outside Chablis. Not an easy to style to get right, but this works well. It’s round and soft-textured, but reassuringly crisp, with bright, well-defined, pineappley fruit framed by a gentle cashew-nut flavour and a hint of vanilla, although not the vanilla you get from oak. 13%. See also the syrah below and try the sauvignon blanc, a very pure, clean-cut, cool-climate style. Went well with a risotto which included fennel bulb.
£11.95, Bijou Bottles (Norfolk)

2012 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
The fourth vintage and another benchmark.  Intense, fragrant sugarsnap pea and lemongrass flavours with a minerally, slightly salty undertow. Very fresh and nervy, but with textural depth and breadth.
£16.49, Noel Young Wines, and others.

1999 Château Grate-Cap, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Mature Pomerol at a modest price. Perfumy and floral on the nose with plummy fruit and a distinctive sweet-herb character. Dry but ripe tannins and a minerally finish. Grate-Cap is a small estate near Vieux Château Certan and Le Pin. Illustrious neighbours indeed.
£19.99, Majestic

2010 Peregrine Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand
Polish, layered pinot noir with succulence and depth. Rose and sweet spice perfume, ripe red-berry fruit framed by elegant oak and a satin-smooth palate with  palate.
£25.00, but on offer at £19.99, Majestic

2010 Domaine Vincent Paris Granit Cornas, Rhône, France
Lovely Cornas. Raspberry, pepper and savoury, meaty, minerally notes. Great depth and presence. Can be drunk now, but worth laying down for five years. 13%. Not expensive.
£264 per case, Laithwaites

2010 Valle Pradinhos Porta Velha, Trás-os-Montes, Portugal
Medium-bodied, rounded, fresh, spicy and mineral, with plum/damson fruit and a hint of star anise. Dry, grown-up wine. Made from estate-grown Touriga nacional and tinta roriz (aka tempranillo). 13%.
Went well with a Peruvian recipe for slow-baked, chilli-spiked lamb with pulses and lentils (recipe by Louisa Carter in October 2012 House & Garden). See also the Valle Pradinhos white above.
£7.50, The Wine Society

2008 Quinta Lagoalva de Cima Alfrocheiro, Grande Escolha, VR Tejo, Portugal
A dry, savoury red with herb, licorice and mineral notes, damson-like fruit, a suggestion of leather and  light, dry tannins. 13.5%.
Went well with slow-roast hand of pork with fennel and piment doux. Would be good with a baked Christmas ham too.
£14.95, The Wine Society

2010 Seven Springs Syrah, Overberg, South Africa
Impressive result from very young vines. Cassis, woodsmoke and vanilla perfume, with crunchy black fruit, smoke, liquorice and fresh herbs on the palate. Some tannin and quite marked acidity but both softened by 12 months’ oak ageing. Good with prosciutton and with grilled and roast red meat. 14%.
£13.95, Bijou Bottles (Norfolk)