A rosé in the depths of winter, when we haven’t even reached the shortest day of the year? Why not? It’s fine to drink pink wines all year round these days, not just in summer, especially when they’re as good as this flavoursome, full-bodied, richly coloured example from the southern Rhône Valley. Juicy yet serious, it has layers of summer pudding, goji berry and wild strawberry, plenty of supporting acidity and a nip of tannin.
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.
The Wine Society sources this delicious introduction to the delights of Nebbiolo from Rizzi’s younger vine parcels in the Barbaresco appellation. Entirely fermented in stainless steel, with no oak ageing, it’s a floral, almost graceful expression of the variety, with comparatively smooth tannins, notes of potpourri, cranberry and red cherry and a long, bright, tapering 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.
Burgundian winemakers used to be a bit sniffy about Aligoté, but climate change has prompted a shift in attitude to the tangy, famously acidic grape variety, exemplified by the Aligoteurs movement of which Sylvain Pataille is a leading figure. This is a brilliant wine from an outstanding producer that could sell at twice the price, showing a touch of older oak, citrus, wet stone and green apple flavours, nice texture and weight and the concentration that often seems to come from old vines.
The name of this intriguing wine from the Pfalz region of Germany – three grapes in English – refers to the unusual combination of varieties it contains – Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, which are rarely combined. The result is a fresh, tangy, perfumed white with grapefruit, lime and lychee flavours, subtle wet stone top notes, lots of acidity and zip and a satisfyingly dry finish.
Combining grapes from Autol, Alfaro, Aldeanueva and Rincón de Soto, Costumbres is a regional expression of the Rioja Oriental from talented young winemaker, Carlos Mazo. Garnacha based with 20% co-planted Graciano and white grapes, it’s a very lightly wooded red, showing 100% whole bunch clove spices, subtle tannic grip and layers of plum, raspberry and red cherry fruit. The modern face of Rioja’s warmest sub-region.
Pepe Mendoza is one the best producers in the Alicante region, using old methods – fermentation in amphoras in this case – and local grapes such as Moscatel de Alejandría to produce wines of great character, elegance and refinement. This engagingly scented white has jasmine and orange peel aromas, good concentration and structure and flavours of quince, lemon zest and tangerine, complemented by a tangy, dry finish.
The Voor Paardeberg is sometimes described as “Swartland Lite”, to distinguish it from the wines made on the other side the mountain, but the region has come into its own in the last five years. This is one of a growing number of stand-alone Grenache Blancs being made around the world, especially in warm regions where the variety retains its acidity. Tangy, pithy and well-structured, with layers of complexity from ageing in barrel, terracotta and stainless steel, as well as 30% malolactic, it has citrus, camomile, aniseed and wet stone flavours and thrilling minerality.
Given the prices of half-decent red Burgundy these days, it’s little wonder that people are looking for alternatives. This varietal Gamah is a superb Beaujolais from the Cru of Fleurie that massively over-delivers in the bottle. Spicy, juicy and lightly savoury, it has haunting balance, plenty of colour and intensity, sappy acidity and layers of dark cherry, raspberry. pomegranate and tobacco leaf. Intense, mouth-watering stuff.
“Wow!” was my one-word tasting note when I initially sipped this remarkable dry Furmint from Hungary. The Tokaji region is best known for its delicious sweet wines, but that’s changing thanks to producers like Balassa Bor. Intense, stony and lightly wooded, this jauntily named white has citrus, fresh dough and aniseed flavours, wonderful purity and focus and racy, palate-cleansing acidity.
If you love Pinot Noir, then the chances are that you’ll appreciate its slightly more rustic Sicilian cousin, Nerello Mascalese. This comes from volcanic soils at 800 metres on the northern slopes of Mount Etna and is appealingly floral and intense, with rose petal and a hint of earth on the nose, lots of tangy focus and grip, very subtle integration and a lovely combination of sinewy tannins, wild strawberry and red cherry fruit and a dusting of Mediterranean herbs.