It’s easy to judge the white wines from Oliver Conti too young, even this unoaked cuvée of Macebeu and Gewürztraminer. This combines perfume, spice, fresh acidity and a touch of grapeskin bitterness on the palate, underpinned by some creamy, lees-derived fatness. It’s an unusual wine, with the Gewürz adding some ginger spice to the Macabeu. Try cellaring it.
One of the most exciting white wines in Empordà, made by French couple Marc and Emma Bournazeau from a blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Deftly oaked, beautifully defined, with the three grapes stylishly intertwined. Honeysuckle, some spice, a dash of thyme and pear and long, granite-derived minerality. Right up there with some of the best white wines in Spain. An estate to watch.
There’s clearly something special about the village of San Clement Sescebes (and not just as the place where lots of Spaniards did their military service) as it’s home to two of the region’s best producers (Terra Remota being the other one). This highly unusual blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Picapoll and Samsó (aka Carignan) is a big, umami-rich white with a dry finish, some tannin on the palate and masses of grip, density and flavour. A very serious bottle of white.
An unusual wine: mature, unoaked Samsó (Carignan) that was fermented and aged in cement. It’s on the rustic side, with a hint of volatility, but there’s no denying that the wine is true to its varietal with chunky, slightly drying tannins but lots of gutsy personality.
Rich, wild, slightly volatile notes on the nose, with sweet red and black fruits and a warm, palate-coating finish: it could only be Grenache. Or rather Garnatxa (along with Merlot, Cabernet and a few other things). Aromatic, very primary, with notes of liquorice and blackberry, smooth tannins and a long finish. Needs time.
I sometimes feel as if I’m the president, founder and only member of the Carignan appreciation society, which is strange, given how good this grape can taste, especially when its vines are old. That’s the case here in this chunky Roussillon red, sourced from bush vines close to the Pyrenees. It’s a big, bold, appropriately rustic number with notes of thyme, rosemary and pepper spice, a touch of sweetness, bags of black fruits and a volatile lift. In short, classic Carignan.
Wow! When Aussie stickies are as good as this, they are some of the greatest fortified wines in the world. This ambre-hued, mature, non vintage Muscat is a stunner, all dates and rose petal, with a hint of Oloroso Sherry. Treacle, molasses, unctuous sweetness and a finish that goes on for ever.
Rare sums it up. It’s not often that I’m reduced to silent contemplation, but that happened here. This is a tresure of a wine, one to be sipped and supped and drooled over. Incredibly perfumed, rose petal and rancio aromas sashay intocomplex, nut fig and walnut flavours on the palate. Decadent, complex, concentrated and intense. Essence of Rutherglen.
Sweet, floral, rosepetal notes on the nose, followed by youthful, high toned, fig and molasses on the palate. This is quite a young style of Muscat (relatively speaking, of course), but it’s delightfully poised and fragrant with a luscious, sweet, mouth-coating texture and good length.
The almacenista (merchant) house of Emilio Lustau sources and blends some of the best Sherries in the world. This perennial award winner from Sainsbury’s is a classic Amontillado style: pale(ish), dry and very complex with flavours of hazelnuts, dried fruits and a savoury, umami-like tang. The wine needs food, preferably tapas or a hunk of Manchego cheese, to show at its best, but is a comtemplative, after dinner drink too.
The Riesling from this brilliant Nelson winery is often overlooked, such is the quality of its Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, but this medium dry style is a delight, all lime peel and stone fruit, with a steely backbone of acidity that wouldn’t look out of place in the Rheingau.