The 20% oak ageing is quite prominent on the nose and palate here, reminding me of a white Rioja (same grape, but more concentration in Empordà), but there’s enough texture and concentration for it to integrate over time. Another young producer who has rejuvenated old family vines to fashion something with real personality: minerality, wild herbs and some vanilla sweetness.
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.
A wine that is a little too marked by oak at the moment, but has good underlying texture and concentration. Floral, saline and concentrated with toasty oak and good minerality. Needs a year or two in bottle, but I love the notes of fennel and wild rosemary and the strucuture and muscularity of the finish.
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.
Good, honest drinking Samsó from high altitude vineyards on slate soils. There’s a little bit of oak here, but it’s not remotely intrusive. The wine shows aromatic red fruits, fresh acidity and attractive raspberry and cherrystone notes. Try it chilled with a plate of tapas. I did.
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.
By the very oaky standards of some white Riojas, this is comparatively light on the barrel influence. It’s a subtle, lightly smoky Viura with a herbal touch and well integrated vanilla oak. The palate is fresh, yet textured, with good length and a savoury finish.
The focus is rightly on English sparkling wines, rather than the unfizzy stuff, but this fruit salad blend of five grapes is well worth trying, especially at only £6. It’s got that classic English bouquet of hedgerows and elderflowers, combined with some stony, minerally notes. On the palate it’s crisp and just off dry with crunchy acidity and bright grapefruit and green apple flavours. An excuse to buy British, or rather English.
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.
A delicious, great value white from Umbria, with fresh, almost savoury fruit notes, crisp minerality and a hint of grape skin bitterness on the finish. A white wine that works best with food, possibly even with the cheese of the same name.
If you’re looking for a rare southern French white with lots of personality, this blend of Roussanne and rare Bourboulenc from cosatal La Clape deserves a slot in your wine rack. It’s rich and slightly honeyed with notes of wax and pear and a spicy, textured finish with just a hint of grape skin bitterness. A white wine with grip.
Made from no fewer than eight varieties (with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Muscat among them), this is an intriguing nothern Spanish white that combines perfume with fruit intensity. Grapey, fresh and lime-scented, it’s a focused, floral dry white with a hint of bitterness on the finish.