Sourced from vineyards at 750 metres (which is high for South Africa), this was made by the talented Donovan Rall from the under-rated Piekenierskloof region. Tangy, refreshing and crisp, it’s tauter than some Cape Chenins with apple, pear and herbal notes and a creamy mid palate.
Pinot Blanc tends to get overlooked in Alsace behind Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, but when it’s as good as this biodynamically farmed example, it’s delicious. Textured, rich and focused with a touch of appealing bitterness, presumably from skin contact, and notes of white flowers, honey and beeswax. The wine finishes refeshingly dry.
Not many wine writers have the guts to make their own wines, so take a bow Christelle Guibert, my colleague from Decanter for making something as good as this from her native Loire Valley. As the label suggests, it was grown on gneiss soils (in case you were wondering) and was fermented in über trendy concrete eggs. It’s all about old vine texture rather than perfume, owing as much to Burgundy as to the western Loire. Mineral, refreshing and bone dry, this is one of the best Muscadets I’ve ever drunk. Let’s hope this is the first of a range of wines.
This is my white wine discovery of the year in my recently published South Africa report. Sourced fromthe little-known area of Montagu, it’s a brilliant Chenin Blanc (Steen) made by three friends, including the talented Reenen Boorman of Boschkloof. Formerly sold off to the local co-op, these grapes have produced something remarkable in the first vintage under their own label: saline, textured and mealy with some skin tannins, wax and spice and perfectly judged oak. One of the Cape’s best Chenins.
Gerd Stepp used to buy wine for Marks & Spencer before he returned to his former life as a winemaker in Germany. M&S’ loss is our gain (and they are still stocking his wines anyway) because this is an oustandingly well priced Pinot from a country that has more of the variety in the ground than New Zealand does. It’s a smooth, savoury, easy-drinking red with some spice, sweet plum and raspberry fruit, good texture and a long, supple finish underpinned by subtle oak.
Bruwer Raats makes some of the best Chenin Blancs in South Africa, expressing precision and place rather than tropical fruit flavours. This Fairtrade-accredited example is very lightly oaked, with just a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla to complement the pear, citrus and stone fruit nuances. Tangy and refreshing with a stony bite.
An evocative name for a delicious wine. This full-bodied “dry” Riesling from the Waipara Valley is actually off-dry, but it’s none the worse for that. This is exotic and rich, with old vine complexity and flavours of lime, peach and nectarine. It’s especially good with spicy food, but is also delicious as an aperitif.
A blend of 20 wines from ten different vintages, some of which are 15 years old, Krug’s non-vintage blend is one of a kind. It’s rich, complex and palate coating, with small bubbles, savoury, umami notes, hints of hazelnut and honey and a dry, refeshing palate. The kind of Champagne that works extremely well with food rather than as an aperitif.
I’ve been very critical of the 2011 vintage in Chablis (because of a root vegetable-like taint called geosmin that I find on too many of the wines) but this is a welcome exception to the rule, a clean, appealingly developed Chardonnay from an excellent Premier Cru. There’s a touch of oak on this wine, but it’s steered by fruit. Honey, pear and aniseed spice are nicely combined on the palate.
It’s a pleasure to drink an Alsace Riesling made in a dry style like this one. Stony, minerally and unoaked, this is tangy and transparent with appealing bottle development but enough concentration to age for another four to eight years. Great with food.
Is this New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir? It’s certainly in the top half dozen examples of the grape, a wine that nods towards Chambolle-Musigny as much as its native North Island. It’s a subtle, fragrant red with silky tannins, sustaining acidity, chalky minerality and a stylishly judged balance of oak, fruit and tannin. Winemaking of a high order.
The sort of wine that seems to win medals in its sleep, this Semillon is something of a wine nerd’s white. It’s well priced, especially given its quality, and will age beautifully in bottle, too. Smoky, leesy, waxy and toasty with underlying citrus fruit ping, no apparent oak and a lovely lighthness of touch.