Less sweet than many commercial Ripasso bottlings – and none the worse for that – this is also showing a bit of bottle-aged complexity, combining notes of plum, strawberry and fig, a nip of tannin and no obvious oak. The combination of fruit, acidity and residual sugar is very well handled here.
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.
Inky, youthful and richly oaked, this is an impressive Gimblett Gravels blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec that needs a year or two to marry in bottle. Spicy, vanilla-scented notes are complemented by flavours of graphite, dark plums and cassis with bright, underlying freshness.
One for opera buffs, or possibly just bohemians, this is an Aussie take on an Alsace-style blend, based on Pinot Gris. Aromatic and appealing, with orchard fruit and spring blossom on the nose, it segues into waxy, pear and apple spice flavours and a tangy finish.
The second wine of Château Castéra, this is a stylish, Merlot-based claret with restrained oak, plenty of perfume and polished tannins. It’s good to see a 2010 wine of this quality that’s ready to drink on retail shelves, showing the balance that’s the hallmark of the vintage.
Hard to beat for its sheer exuberance and gluggability, this is a brilliantly priced Argentinean Malbec with classic violet perfume, a touch of smoky oak and oodles of plum, blackberry and liquorice fruit. Made for a juicy steak, but this is smooth enough to work with spring lamb, too.
It’s great to see an Austrian Grüner of this quality in a major supermarket. It’s not a power packed wine, but what it lacks in weight, it makes up for in freshness. Floral and medium weight, with some pepper spice, pear and citrus fruit flavours and a zesty, tangy finish. A really good food wine – and I don’t say that very often.
Light, elegant and refreshing, this is a south-west French wine that wouldn’t look out of place in Provence, give or take a slightly green, grassy undertone that’s typical of the Braucol grape. Summer berries, tangy acidity and bone dry with a note of capsicum and a long, tapering finish.
Pinot Blanc tends to get overlooked in Alsace behind Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, but when it’s as good as this biodynamically farmed example, it’s delicious. Textured, rich and focused with a touch of appealing bitterness, presumably from skin contact, and notes of white flowers, honey and beeswax. The wine finishes refeshingly dry.
The dip in the value of the Aussie dollar has made it easier to source wine like this again, which is great news for UK consumers. Spicy, soft and just off-dry, with smooth tannins, a hint of spicy oak and juicy brambly fruit. A great party red.
Gerd Stepp used to buy wine for Marks & Spencer before he returned to his former life as a winemaker in Germany. M&S’ loss is our gain (and they are still stocking his wines anyway) because this is an oustandingly well priced Pinot from a country that has more of the variety in the ground than New Zealand does. It’s a smooth, savoury, easy-drinking red with some spice, sweet plum and raspberry fruit, good texture and a long, supple finish underpinned by subtle oak.
If I were tasting this blind, I’d put it in Ribera del Duero, rather than the hotter Castilla y León region, such is its freshness and perfume. There’s quite a bit of oak on offer here, but it’s more than balanced by fruit weight and acidity. The tannins are extremely smooth for a wine at this price, complemented by notes of bramble and blackberry, subtle vanilla sweetness and a cool, almost grassy finish.