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.
The received wisdom (at least round my gaff) is that 20-year-old Tawnies are better than the 10-year-old versions, but this wine challenges that. It will improve further in bottle, but it’s remarkable now, an intense, nutty, figgy fortified with more tannin and concentration than commerical Tawnies at lower price points. In short, it’s worth the extra cash: a sweet, yet structured, wood-matured Port with impressive palate length.
Blended by Waitrose’s Spanish buyer, Nick Room, this is a tasty introduction to Spain’s best-loved wine style, a Tempranillo-based red with a hint of sweet, coconutty American oak, lots of soft red fruits, bright acidity and supple, palate-caressing tannins.
2011 turned out to be a very drinkable vintage in Beaujolais, just as it did in neighbouring Burgundy, and this own-lablel from teh Georges Duboeuf stable is a red-fruited thirstquencher with pithy acidity and notes of cherry and raspberry.
A wine that certainly isn’t for the faint of heart (or palate, given its 15% alcohol), but this Catalan blend has style and compexity in abundance. Smoky and slightly sweet, with a hint of volatile acidity, plenty of tannin, subtle vanilla oak and aromas of wild herbs, all underpinned by palate-cleansing minerality from slate soils.
Freixenet was opposed to “”international varieties” for many years, but I’m glad it has relented, because this is a very well made blend of Pinot and Chardonnay. Savoury and dry, with a Cava-like twist, it’s palate-tinglingly fresh and long.
One of the more drinkable Chinese wines to cross my tasting bench, this is a quaffable, sweetish blend with slighty angular acidity and pleasant cassis and red cherry fruit. Not masively (or even slightly) complex, but certainly drinkable.
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.
Harry Hatzidakis makes some of the best whites on the volcanic holiday island of Santorini from the wonderful Assyrtiko grape. This is typically fresh and tangy, with a salty undertone, stony minerality and bright, lip-smacking acidity. The wine is shwowing really well right now after two years’ bottle age.
Pure Cabernet from the Maipo Valley is one of the most distinctive wine styles in the New World. And this is a classic of the genre, with notes of mint and blackcurrant leaf and an undertone of green pepper and mint. Refreshing and nicely balanced, with the oak adding a subtle sweetness to the wine.
Bottled in 2008 (which means it spent more than 30 years in cask), this is the sort of wine that everyone should drink once in their life. It has the classic green tinge of mature Madeira, as well as the marked acidity of the best examples. Savoury, complex and fine, this has a classic cheesy undertone, with mature, smoky, incense-like aromas and flavours. Yes, it’s expensive, but at 25% off, now is the time to buy it. Or offer it as a Christmas present.