This youthful, strikingly packaged Garnacha comes from the Ribera del Quielles region of northern Spain. It’s made from young vines – hence, in part, its juiciness – and it’s a stunner, with lots of sweet bramble and raspberry fruit, hints of pepper and clove spice and a palate-cleansing finish. If you like your Garnacha fresh rather than baked, you’ll love this wine.
If you’ve always struggled with the idea that Pinotage is the Cape’s USP, try a glass of this amazing example from Pinot Noir specialist Cape Chamonix in Franschhoek. It’s made in a ripasso style (like some Valpolicellas) to give it a little more alcohol and weight. It’s supple, smooth and sensitively oaked with black plum and blackberry fruit, sweet oak and a harmonious finish. Best of all, perhaps, it doesn’t taste like most Pinotage.
On offer from April 2nd to the 30th (the price comes down to a very attractive £5.79), this is a textbook example of the Languedoc’s best seafood white. Citrus and white pepper on the nose, with a hint of white peach, this is zesty, medium-bodied and unoaked, with a fresh, tangy finish. Try it with a plate of oysters or mussels.
I don’t want to overstate the case here, but this could be the start of a Chilean red wine revolution. It’s unusual in at least three respects: it’s made from old vine, unirrigated Cinsault grown in the cool southerly region of Itata, it was fermented in amphorae and it has a lowly (for Chile) 13% alcohol. The result is is a refreshing, juicy, balanced, cherry and raspberry fruity red of great finesse and length. A welcome relief from over-oaked, over-alcoholic Chilean reds.
I hope you’ll forgive me for choosing another 2010 Rhône red as my wine of the week, but they are just so delicious. This unoaked blend of mostly Grenache with 25% Syrah, 10% Carignan amd 10% Mourvèdre is quintessential stuff: ripe, but still refreshing with sweet plums and red fruits on the palate backed up by clove and pepper spice. I could drink a bottle of this in one sitting, especially with a good stew or barbecued ribs.
If you love Nebbiolo (and who doesn’t?) but can’t afford to drink top Barolo, this lighter style is a brilliant introduction to one of Italy’s two best red grapes. It’s subtle and fragrant, with a raspberry sweetness that reminds me of red Burgundy, backed up by fine, but not remotely aggressive tannins. Complex, leafy and well balanced, this is delicious now, but will develop for at least another five years.
Paololeo is one of the most exciting producers of Primitivo in Puglia, making stylish, modern, concentrated wines that aspire to match the quality of southern Italy’s best reds, especially at a price like this. Figs and pepper spice on the nose, with sweet vanilla oak, flavours of dark chocolate, plum and fresh tobacco and a refreshing, yet structured finish. The wine looks as good as it tastes, which is saying a good deal. Drink now to 5 years.
I haven’t tasted a generic Chablis as good as this in years, so bérets off to Canadian producer, Patrick Piuze, who rents vineyards in the region to make his hand-crafted wines. This has a little bit of added texture from older oak ageing, but it’s the fruit that sings on the palate: focused,tangy and lemon zesty with a chalky, minerally undertone, a savoury note from wild yeast fermentation, some cream from lees contact and incredible palate length. Imagine a Chablis mixed crossed with a dry Riesling and you have some idea of how good this is.
A delicious, unoaked blend of two under-rated Mediterranean varieties, Roussanne (80%) and Vermentino (20%) from a little known area in the Languedoc. It’s fresh and tangy with notes of wet stone, green olive, fresh herbs, stone fruit and lemon peel. Crisp and refreshing but with underlying weight and concentration in reserve.
Unusually for the Loire, which generally struggles to ripen the grape, this wine is made predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with 10% Cabernet Franc. The result is delicious, with aromas of green pepper and graphite, supple fruit flavours and a creamy, smooth texture. In style, it’s mid-way between a claret and Bierzo red, but with a freshness and elegance which is typical of the Loire.
Drinkable Pinot Noir, let alone very drinkable Pinot Noir, under £8 is one of wine’s holier grails. This Chilean example from increasingly fashionable Leyda offers even better value than that. From 22nd of November it will be down to £6.99 each for two months. The wine tastes as good as it looks, with sweet raspberry and red cherry flavours, a touch of oak and refreshing, cool climate acidity. There’s some leafy complexity here, too.
2009 Vasse Felix Semillon, Margaret River (£13.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer). If you find some Hunter Valley Semillons a little austere, especially when they’re young, try a bottle of this western Australian example instead. Made by the talented Virginia Wilcock, it’s got lovely notes of toast, honeysuckle and cream soda, with zesty acidity and subtle vanilla oak. It’s very enjoyable now, but I suspect this will reward cellaring too.