A wine that blew my mind at the Wine Society’s recent press tasting, this is an excellent new discovery from buyer Pierre Mansour. A Garnacha Blanca that tastes as good as it looks, it hails from 50-year-old vines in Valdejalón, and has incredible intensity and focus. Salty, bone dry and lightly toasty, it has lovely aromas of wet stones, jasmine and thyme and a palate of quinine, sourdough bread and citrus peel.
It’s unusual to come across a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that’s a blend of vintages, but this one from Julie Rouffignac uses wines from four different harvests – 2017, 2017, 2020 and 2021 – to weave its magic. Pairing Grenache with 40% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 1% Cinsault, it’s an unwooded delight that’s perfect for an autumn meal, with notes of fig, bramble and red berries, layers of pepper and clove spice and a savoury finish.
Pepe Mendoza is Alicante’s most celebrated winemaker, well known for the quality of his reds and whites as well as their outstanding value for money. This lightly wooded cuvée marries equal amounts of Monastrell and the rare Giró grape and is a charming, enticing delight. Aromas of rose petal and Turkish Delight segue into a palate that’s savoury and spicy, all white pepper, thyme and summer berries and a nip of tannin.
This is one of three Viogniers that Louisa Rose makes at Yalumba, and it’s my favourite of the trio, despite being the mid-priced offering. Wonderfully pure, enticing aromas of orange blossom and stem ginger segue into a palate of cream, white peach and citrus zest. This has lovely freshness and zip, subtle texture, understated oak and a spicy finish.
The middle of a trio of so-called Mediterranean vintages, 2016 generally produced wines with good concentration and ageing potential. That’s certainly the case with the impressive Viña Arana release, which shows impressive depth, energy and presence. Aged in La Rioja Alta’s signature American oak barrels, it’s a well judged blend of Tempranillo from three vineyards in Rodezno with grippy 5% Graciano from Fuenmayor. It has classic aromas of dried coconut, cinnamon and baking spices, plenty of acidity, undertones of baked earth and wild herbs, plum and reds berry fruit flavours and graceful, fine-grained tannins. Very drinkable now, but will cellar well, as La Rioja Alta’s wines so often do.
I had to do a double take at the price of this wine (it’s on offer until next week), given that it’s a Riesling from one of the Mosel’s best producers and vineyards. But ours not to reason why and all that. This is the perfect summer apéritif, all crunchy green apples and peachy sweetness. Wonderfully refreshing at just 8% alcohol, it has spicy undertones, slatey minerality and a beautiful embrace between tangy acidity and 38 grams of residual sugar.
I’m regularly impressed by the Discovery Collection label at Sainsbury’s, as it offers unusual wines at decent prices. This is an unoaked south-west French blend of local Négrette with more widely planted Malbec. Youthful, sappy and refreshing, it has lovely bramble and black cherry fruit flavours, spicy, savoury tannins and the underlying concentration and structure to stand up to the smokiness of a summer barbecue.
For all the talk about the latest en primeur releases, it’s worth remembering that good claret can age beautifully. In fact, there are times when mature red Bordeaux stops you in your tracks. This is one of them: a scented, graceful cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon and 47% Merlot that has classic coffee bean, tobacco leaf and cedar wood top notes, fine-boned, layered tannins and flavours of sweet spices, summer berries and blackcurrant leaf. The wine is sold out on line, but there’s still some available in stores.
“Our classic Malbec,” is how Thibaut Delmotte describes this blend of four vineyards at different altitudes – Altura Máxima, Colomé, El Arenal and La Brava. Wonderfully juicy and scented, it’s the perfect introduction to the variety, with intense damson, blueberry and wild thyme flavours, palate-caressing tannins and a tangy finish.
Tasting Hill of Grace is often a moving experience, especially so in an excellent vintage like 2018. Using vines planted between 1860 and 1965, it’s one of the great wines of Australia as well as the world. Inky, layered and profound, with maturation in an 83/17 combination of French and American barrels, this is a wine that carries its power and concentration comparatively lightly. Five spice, fennel and vanilla pod aromas lead you into a palate that has intensity, focus and, yes, grace, blackberry and blueberry fruit, fleshy, sculpted tannins, deftly handled oak and a lift of freshness and acidity. A world-class wine from a unique site.
Hill of Roses is made with a Shiraz from the 0.94-hectare Post Office Block 3, located within the Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley. Replanted by Prue Henschke in 1989 with a much older massal selection from the Grandfathers’ parcel, this is a dense, compact, self-assured Shiraz that’s more Hermitage than Côte Rôtie perhaps. Mint, sage and rose petal aromas segue into a palate of blackberry, damson and dark plums framed by mocha-scented, 25% new French oak. Weighty and intense with the concentration to age convincingly in bottle.
It might not have the power and density of Hill of Grace, but Mount Edelstone is one hell of a wine in its own right. Vibrant, fresh and energetic, it’s the most northern Rhône like of the Henschke releases. Sourced from vines planted on red clay loam soils, the 2018 is a dry-grown, ungrafted delight. Matured in a 77/23 split of French and American oak, this is effortlessly complex and nuanced, with plum, black fig and blueberry fruit, lots of zip and acidity, a sheen of vanilla and potpourri spice, lots of understated concentration and a lingering kiss of a finish.