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.
2012 was on the smallest vintages on record in Burgundy, but quality was high, even in “lesser” regions, such as the Chalonnaise. This lightly oaked, harmonious Chardonnay is fresh and crisp, with notes of nutmeg spice and citrus peel and a tangy, chalky undertone. Great value. And it will age well, too.
There’s an ocean of chearp Prosecco on the market at the moment, but it’s worth trading up a bit to get hold of something with more concentration and flavour. This is light and fruity (as you’d expect), with peach and pear fruitiness, but there’s some appealing spice in the background, too, supported by a cushion of soft bubbles. Very gluggable.
Waitrose doesn’t source its Vintage Champagne from P&C Heidsieck any more, alas, so get hold of this amazing fizz while it’s still on the shelves. It’s toasty and rich, with layer upon layer of flavour, fine bubbles, incredible length and just enough dosage to balance the acidity. A complex, savoury bubbly that’s a steal under £30.
It’s something of a coup for Waitrose to source their own label Sauternes from the First Growth property of Château Suduiraut. The result is a very classy dessert wine with the emphasis on botrytis-affected Semillon with a dash of Sauvignon Blanc. The oak is deftly handled here, adding a spicy nuance to the flavours and aromas of honey, beeswax and crème brûlée. The intense sweetness is balanced by just the right amount of acidity.
If you’re a fan of light, charming, grassy Cabernet Franc from the Loire, look no further than this unoaked stunner from Frédéric Mabileau. It’s appealingly scented, with aromas of cut grass, dill and pencil shavings, a supple, charming palate and bright, crunchy acidity. It tastes even better chilled.
The Alentejo is becoming more and more impressive with each vintage as a source of southern Portugal’s best red wines. This great value, under-a-tenner blend of Aragonez (aka Tempranillo), Trincadeira and Castelão is a case in point. It’s aromatic and refreshing, with no sign of sun-baked, raisiny flavours, fine tannins, notes of chocolate, black cherry and plum and a firm, but well balanced finish.
After the hoopla surrounding the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux, 2011 was bound to be a bit of a let down, despite the fact that it produced plenty of decent wines. This is a case in point: a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend that’s supple and forward (especially for the vintage), with attractive, grassy, refreshing flavours and a nip of tannin.
Superb Tokay from one of the best, modern-style producers in this most traditional of sweet wine regions. This is still a very young wine, even at six years old, with the acidity you expect from Furmint. It’s bitingly fresh, but the appley tartness is balanced by pear and honeyed sweetness, with hints of white flowers and remarkable concentration and length. One to buy now and hold on to for a decade.