Mid-way between a single quinta and not-quite-a-vintage Port, this is rich, sweet and easy to drink, but with more structure and concentration than is immediately apparent. Spicy, peppery and showing a little bit of fiery spirit, this has dark, creamy fruit flavours and a complex, chocolatey finish.
A rich, even heady expression of the Moscatel (Muscat) grape, this is luscious and palate-coating, with flavours of orange peel, dried fruits and beeswax and spirity note that complements rather than overwhelms the wine. Sweet and complex, it’s really good with full-flavoured desserts.
Sue Hodder is one of the best winemakers in Australia and bestrides the Coonawarra region with the quality of her reds. This, the 53rd vintage release of Black Label, more than lives up to the example of its predecessors. It’s sillky, elegant and low-key with cool climate finesse, filigree tannins and stylish plum and blackcurrant fruit. The acidity drives the wine here.
Beaune whites are not as well known as its reds, although both tend to be under-rated. Leesy, soft and gently oaked, this is a comparatively forward style with subtle oak framing and notes of lemon butter and honey. The acidity of the 2010 vintage lifts the wine on the finish.
João Portugal (yes, that’s his name) Ramos makes some of the best value reds in Iberia. This southerrn Portuguese blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Castelão is well up to his usual high standards, combining flavours of blackberry, bramble and orange zest in a wine that’s fruity, refreshing, yet substantial enough to serve with red meat.
Brent Marris’ well-distributed Sauvignon tends to be on a deal more often than not, but even at its full retail price it delivers in the glass, unfurling flavours of passion fruit, gooseberry and melon. Flavoursome stuff at a fair price.
A bottle of this superlative Albariño is never far from my hand when I’m on holiday in Spain in the summer. The 2012 is well up to the high standards of recent vintages, possibly with a little more weight. Floral pefume, lemon and lime on the palate, crisp acidity and a hint of spritz: it all adds up to a delicious Atlantic-influenced white.
Amarone can be something of a one glass wine if it’s too rich and raisiny (at least for me), but this one from the Cantina di Negrar gets the balance spot on. It’s a blend of mostly Corvina, with 15% each of Corvinone and Rondinella, aged in traditional Slavonian casks, rather thas smothered with new oak. Aromatic and spicy, this boasts flavours of plum, raspberry and dark chocolate, with refreshing acidity and the concentration to age further in bottle.
USP or liability? Depending on your view of Carmenère, you will either love or loathe this wine because it’s very true to its grape variety. Plush and sweetly oaked, it’s a ripe, malty, vanilla-scented red with flavours of green pepper and chocolate and plenty of texture. Impressive winemaking from Chile-based Kiwi, Brett Jackson.
Australian Shiraz tends to get a lot more attention than Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, but at its best, the latter is more than a match for the former. This one from the Bordeaux varieties-focused region of Coonawarra is delicious, showing subtle use of oak from winemaker, Sue Hodder, lovely blackcurrant purity, appealing vanilla spice and fine-grained tannins. Long on the palate, this will reward further cellaring.
This is a step up from Ernie Loosen’s widely available (and very drinkable) Dr L Riesling, made exclusively for Waitrose. The result is a classic Mosel Riesling, with sappy, sweet and sour flavours, notes of lemon and lime and a finely-judged interplay beween acidity, fruit and residual sugar. Long and refreshing.
Both of my regular readers will know that I am not the greatest fan of Pinot Grigio/Gris when it’s watery and doesn’t taste of much. But this Kiwi example from the Awatere and Wairau Valleys is a very smart wine indeed. It’s just off-dry, with good texture and weight and beguiling flavours of pear and stone fruit. The wine finishes fresh and long on the palate. A really good food wine, too.