Sourced from the flatlands of the Salento peninsula, where Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) is at its best in Puglia, this is a toothsome, barrel-aged red at a very appealing price, showing flavours of plum, blackebrry and spice, with some peppery lift, a touch of tobacco and well-integrated oak. At its best with robust food.
The wonderfully theatrical Chester Osborn is better known for his reds than his whites, but he has a suprisingly subtle touch with the latter, as this very lightly oaked blend of Viognier with 32% Marsanne demonstrates. It’s a spicy, pithy, understated white, with good crunch and zest, a hint of apricot and a mealy, balanced finish.
Made by the talented Johannes Leitz, this is a modern Rheingau Riesling from a very good vintage, with classic sweet and sour flavours of apple and stone fruit, 47 grams of sugar, some extra weight from lees contact and a long, crunchy finish. Very refreshing, despite the residual sugar.
It’s worth paying a little extra to secure a bottle of this special Premier Cru from Domaines Brocard, as it has even more weight and concentration. There’s great texture here, with notes of citrus fruit and fresh cream and a stony, chalky finish. Fantastic value and a brilliant expression of a very good Chablis vintage.
Taittinger is in a rich vein of form at the moment, from this its non vintage blend right up the Olympian heghts of Comtes de Champagne. This is dry, toasty and well balanced with Chardonnay providing the freshness and lift on the palate. Appealingly dry for non vintage blend, using bottle age rather than sweetness for balance.
One of a series of brilliant Chablis to emerge from this domaine (or domaines) in 2010, this is a textbook example of what Chardonnay can produce in a great year in the Yonne. It’s tangy and fresh with lovely chalky minerality and purity of fruit. Deliciously drinkable.
Made by the brilliant André Figeat, this is a winner every year at JS, even in tricky vintages like 2011. Focused, nettley and taut, this is bright and refreshing with notes of minerals, dill, cut grass and citrus fruit. Long and complex on the palate, this is at its best with goat’s cheese.
The cooler Awatere Valley is producing someof Marlborough’s most distinctive Sauvignons at the moment, lighter and fresher in style than those of the neighbouring Wairau Valley. This is a very elgant Kiwi number, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Loire, with tangy elderflower and citrsu fruit notes and a fine, stony finish. Very poised, very self-assured.
There ought to be much more Roussanne planted in the hotter areas of the Cape than there is, given its suitability to such a climate. This one from Bellingham’s excellent Bernard Series is dry, and creamy with a smoky, spicy undertone and a herbal, refeshing finish. Let’s hope it’s an inspiration to others.
Thsi has been on the shelves for a while at JS, which suggests that (baffling though it is to me) it isn’t selling. This is the weekend to rectify that, because it’s an amazing wine at the price. Light-bodied, in classic Hunter style, with notes of toast and lemon sherbet and a tangy finish from early picked grapes. Essence of the Hunter.
This is only the entry point Viognier from Yalumba, but winemaker Louisa Rose’s magic touch with the variety is gloriously apparent here, making this the best value example of the grape in the country right now. Aromatic and creamy, with hints of aniseed and white peach and a luscious, almost decadent finish. Yum, yum.
Well, that’s my Christmas Party fizz taken care of. This is outrageously good value, a superb own-label Champagne that ranks with the very best buys in the high street right now. It’s a toasty, bottle-aged blend of mostly Pinot Meunier with 40% Pinot Noir and it’s singing at the top of its voice. Small bubbles, great length, richness and complexity, with lots of extra weight from 30% reserve wines. Buy, buy, buy.