Loire Valley guru Pascal Jolivet inspired the talented Matt Day to make this wild-fermented, left-field Sauvignon Blanc from two complementary parcels on one of the oldest estates in South Africa’s Constantia Valley. Still youthful, intense and showing some tannic structure, it’s a superb, bone-dry expression of Constantia with notes of grapefruit pith, elderflower and wet stones. How wonderful to see a top Cape producer releasing a white wine with some bottle age.
A rosé in the depths of winter, when we haven’t even reached the shortest day of the year? Why not? It’s fine to drink pink wines all year round these days, not just in summer, especially when they’re as good as this flavoursome, full-bodied, richly coloured example from the southern Rhône Valley. Juicy yet serious, it has layers of summer pudding, goji berry and wild strawberry, plenty of supporting acidity and a nip of tannin.
Apostolos Thymiopoulos is one of the hottest properties in Greece at the moment, making some of that country’s very best reds and rosés. His top wines fetch steep prices, but you can get a glimpse of what all the brouhaha is about by buying a bottle of this young-vine cuvée of Xinomvaro from the Naoussa region. Effortlessly juicy, sappy and thirst quenching, it has redcurrant and raspberry fruit flavours, a hint of rhubarb and a whisper of wild Mediterranean herbs. My happy juice.
A wine that blew my mind at the Wine Society’s recent press tasting, this is an excellent new discovery from buyer Pierre Mansour. A Garnacha Blanca that tastes as good as it looks, it hails from 50-year-old vines in Valdejalón, and has incredible intensity and focus. Salty, bone dry and lightly toasty, it has lovely aromas of wet stones, jasmine and thyme and a palate of quinine, sourdough bread and citrus peel.
Originally founded by a Spanish journalist, Finca Sandoval has been one of the driving forces behind the revival of the high-altitude Manchuela denominación de origen, located close to the Mediterranean on the slopes of the Cuenca mountains. Based on Bobal, the most important local grape, with support from four other rare varieties and a splash of more international Syrah, this is juicy, vibrant and entirely unwooded, with understated old-vine concentration, raspberry, plum and strawberry flavours, granular tannins and a fresh, chalky finish.
Palomino has an undeserved reputation as a neutral grape, a variety that needs the alchemy of the solera system to turn it into something magical in Jerez. But a new generation of winemakers is busy demonstrating that dry, unfortified wines have considerable appeal. Brothers Fran and Fernando Asencio made this “naked” wine with early picked grapes from an organically farmed vineyard on classic, chalky Albarizas soils. Long lees ageing adds some texture to this unfiltered white, which combines aromas of aniseed and wet stones with a palate of lemon and lime. Deliciously refreshing.
It’s unusual to come across a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that’s a blend of vintages, but this one from Julie Rouffignac uses wines from four different harvests – 2017, 2017, 2020 and 2021 – to weave its magic. Pairing Grenache with 40% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 1% Cinsault, it’s an unwooded delight that’s perfect for an autumn meal, with notes of fig, bramble and red berries, layers of pepper and clove spice and a savoury finish.
The Wine Society sources this delicious introduction to the delights of Nebbiolo from Rizzi’s younger vine parcels in the Barbaresco appellation. Entirely fermented in stainless steel, with no oak ageing, it’s a floral, almost graceful expression of the variety, with comparatively smooth tannins, notes of potpourri, cranberry and red cherry and a long, bright, tapering finish.
Montsant in Catalonia is better known for toothsome reds than whites, but this old-vine blend of mostly Garnacha Blanca with 19% Xarel-lo and 5% Macabeo from Albert Jané is a revelation. Rich, complex, layered and intense, it has plenty of buttery weight from long lees ageing, aromas of fennel and thyme, flavours of pear, quince and nutmeg and a bright, fresh, stony finish. Utterly delicious.
The kind of natural, skin-contact wine that’s a pleasure to drink – not always the case, alas – this is a four-way, pan-Romanian assemblage of Fetească Regală, Muscat Ottonel, Riesling and Pinot Grigio, showing admirable freshness for a wine that was made without added sulphites. Musk, brioche and white flower aromas are a scented introduction to a palate of orange zest, rose water, citrus and quince and a touch of tannic grip.
Pepe Mendoza is Alicante’s most celebrated winemaker, well known for the quality of his reds and whites as well as their outstanding value for money. This lightly wooded cuvée marries equal amounts of Monastrell and the rare Giró grape and is a charming, enticing delight. Aromas of rose petal and Turkish Delight segue into a palate that’s savoury and spicy, all white pepper, thyme and summer berries and a nip of tannin.
Altos de Torona’s impressive Albariño hails from the O Rosal sub-region of Rías Baixas, close the River Miño and Spain’s border with Portugal. Aged on its lees for six months, it shows the intensity and concentration of the 2022 vintage balanced by plenty of acidity, zip and minerality. There are aromas of wet stones and lemon zest here, complemented by lime, kiwi fruit and white peach flavours and a salty, refreshing finish.