Laurent Miquel makes some of the best Viogniers, not just in France but in the world. This judiciously-oaked wine wouldn’t look out of place in Condrieu, such is its fidelity to this supremely aromatic grape. Classy vanilla oak, fresh acidity and flavours of cream and stone fruits are beautifully intertwined here.
Produced close to the village of Kientzheim, this is a very stylish Alsace Gewürz, with none of the oilyness that can affect the variety. Gentle spice, with lovely acidity, rose petal fragrance and a brisk, refreshing, ginger-like finish. Try this with a washed rind cheese.
I’ve had more more Italian white wines this year than ever – and no, I’m not talking about Pinot Grigio. This stunner from Montefocso, near Naples, comes from chalky soils and shows lovely, pithy minerality on the palate, backed up by notes of orange zest and citrus fruit and impressive weight.
The website is still showing the 2010 vintage, but both are very tasty, so don’t worry. This is my summer white when I’m on holiday in Spain, but it still tastes good in the autumn and winter, provided the dish is right. Spritzy and refreshing with delicious bite and crunch, this is aromatic and fine with notes of lime, fresh apple and white flowers.
Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich makes some of the most elegant Chardonnays in the southern hemisphere. This is a precise, beautifully articulated wine that could brush shoulders with a Puligny-Montrachet. There’s a hint of creamy fatness from fermentation lees, understated toasty oak and a backbone of freshness and acidity. These wines aget very well in bottle, so don’t be afraid to keep this.
Why don’t the South Africans plant more Semillon in the Cape, given how successful the variety seems to be there. This one from the cool, ocean-influenced area of Elim is toasty, herbal and very refined, with lovely lime and citrus blossom flavours and the potential to age, Hunter Valley-style, in bottle.
Unoaked Loire Cabernet Franc remains one of the great bargains of the wine world: deliciously distinctive and refreshing. This one from the Cave de Saumur is consistently tasty, a supple, grassy, well balanced red with supple tannins, medium body and a refreshing cassis and green pepper finish. Even more impressive in a tricky vintage like 2011.
Pieter Ferreira is way ahead of anyone else making sparkling wine in the Cape at the moment, as demonstrated by this partially-barrel fermented fizz. It’s sappy and fresh, but with attractively yeasty autolysis notes, very fine bubbles and a tapering finish. A New World fizz that’s better than a lot of cheap Champagnes.
This was one of the very best wines at the Waitrose tasting, a very smart southern Rhône red based on Grenache with 20% Syrah for added backbone. It’s a ripe wine, with 14.5% alcohol, but it’s subtle and elegant, too, reflecting the balance of the 2010 vintage. Supple and sweet, with notes of wild herbs, red fruits, medium tannins and a nuanced, finely crafted finish. This outclasses a lot of Châteauneuf-du-Papes.
A blend of 60% Pinot Noir from the Aube and 40% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, this has a hefty proportion of toasty reserve wine to add to the ripe fruit from the 2009 vintage. The result is a delicious fizz with real complexity, power and depth as well as the backbone to age.
Cornas can make some of the chunkiest wines in the northern Rhône, but this is much more refined than many examples. It’s got lovely lifted crackedf pepper and clove spice on the nose, with subtle oak, hints of grilled meat and red fruits and a fine, refreshing finish. The wine will comfortably age for another eight years or more.
You only get a half bottle of this for your money, but I wouldn’t complain. When they are this good, Loire sweet wines wipe the winery floor with similarly priced stickies from Sauternes. There’s some old oak used to age the wine, but it’s just there as a background note, supporting the stylish, minerally, honey and ripe pear flavours. This is liquid tarte tatin, a delicious Coteaux du Layon from the Premier Cru slopes of Chaume.