Who would imagine that the unfancied Côtes du Vivarais could produce a 50/50 Syrah/Grenache blend that tastes as good as anything at this price in the Rhône Valley. Spice and fresh tobacco notes, with some stemmy, whole bunch flavours, focused, mineral-edged red fruits, fine tannins and delicious perfume and balance. One of my discoveries of the summer.
Pascal Marchand made his name at Domaine des Epeneaux in Pommard, but is now producing some equally impressive wines under his own label. This is a pale, even delicate Pinot, especially by the standards of Gevrey-Chambertin. Aromatic, nuanced and floral, it shows crunchy redcurrant and pomegranate flavours, plenty opf zip and focus and the faintest whisper of oak.
Pinot Noir is the sole grape on this very pale pink bubbly and it shows in the poise, balance and perfume of the wine. Red fruits, attractive, bottle-aged maturity and complex, toasty undertones make this an excellent alternative to Champagne.
Showing the sweetness and silky drinkability of the 2009 vintage in Burgundy, this Gevrey from the excellent Rossignol-Trapet domaine is one of the best wines in Berrys’ newly-launched own-label selection. Supple, textured and forward, it has aromas and flavours of summer pudding and a hint of savoury oak, underpinned by just the right amount of acidity. So good, you’ll want to drink it now, but this has more stuffing than you think.
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.
Slightly higher in alcohol than the regular Barbera, this is mostly sourced from the Bricco delle Viole vineyard, where the vines are 40 years old. Aged in neutral Slavonian oak, it’s creamy, smooth and savoury, with impressive texture, notes of liquorice and dried herbs, polished tannins and a warm, full-bodied finish. A Barbera that’s definitely worth keeping for a few years.
Leah is a blend of the three Seresin estate vineyards (Home, Tatou and Raupo Creek) and is often the most forward of the Pinots from this outstanding Marlborough producer. 2011 was a tricky vintage for Pinot in New Zealand, but this top-notch biodynamic producer has excelled. This is concentrated, spicy and textured with notes of white pepper and red fruits, plenty of concentration, well integrated oak and a complex, earthy finish.
CVNE’s Imperial is one of Rioja’s best value, ageworthy wines. This is still an infant and will need at least another five years in bottle to come close to its best. Dense, concentrated and sweetly oaked with a chalky undertone adding freshness and bite to the plum and raspberry fruit flavours. Traditional Rioja at its youthful best.
Sourced from England’s oldest commercial vineyard (we are talking 1952), this blend of the Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is delicious, a fizz that manages to taste English while showing the complexity and nuances of a top Champagne. It’s chalky and dry, with subtle bubbles, hints of fresh pastry and citrus and a tapering finish: elegant, refined and understated.
At its best, Franciacorta can rank among the best sparkling wines in the world. This is rich, bready and nicely developed with toasty complexity, fine bubbles and a dry, savoury finish. Tangy, chalky and long on the palate.
A late picked, yet “dry” style of Spätlese from the Niederberg-Helden, with remarkable concentration and persistence, underlining Sybille Kuntz’s reputation as one of the Mosel’s best producers. Rich and slightly savoury, with smoky minerality, some stone fruit sweetness, a hint of fennel and a poised, balanced, tapering finish. Exceptional winemaking.
A Crozes-Hermitage under screwcap? You’d better believe it. David Reynaud’s wines are perfumed as it is, and the new clsoure should make sure that’s always the case. There’s no reduction here – sometimes a problem under screwcap for Syrah – just lots of bramble and blackberry fruit. Spicy, bright and mineral with delightful freshness.