Cairanne whites are something of a rarity – even more so than in nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape – but when they are as impressive as this blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne, you wonder why. Textured, complex and oatmealy, this shows deftly interwoven oak, subtle pear and apricot fruit and a mineral flourish.
August Sample Tasting07 August 2017
2014 Domaine Brunet Les Chabriles Vieilles Vignes, Cairanne, Rhône Valley( £10-£15, 13.5%, Vinconnexion )
A concentrated, yet lighly oaked, unfiltered, old vine blend of Grenache and Syrah from one of the best domaines in the village of Cairanne, this is my kind of southern Rhône red. Spicy, mineral and focused with youthful red and dark berry fruit, hints of pepper and clove and firm but beautifully integrated tannins. Great value, too.
2013 Domaine Gallety Cuvée Spéciale, Côtes du Vivarais, Rhône Valley( £25, 14%, Scarlet Wines )
Who would imagine that the unfancied Côtes du Vivarais could produce a 50/50 Syrah/Grenache blend that tastes as good as anything at this price in the Rhône Valley. Spice and fresh tobacco notes, with some stemmy, whole bunch flavours, focused, mineral-edged red fruits, fine tannins and delicious perfume and balance. One of my discoveries of the summer.
2013 Domaine Jones, Fitou, Languedoc Roussillon( £13.50, 14.5%, The Wine Society )
Once upon a time, I used to own a bit of vineyard land in Fitou. I just wish I’d done something as useful with it as Katie Jones has. This blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah is all about perfume and dark, sun-kissed fruit, constructed around a core of freshness and stony minerality. One of the most exciting Fitous I’ve tasted in years.
2010 All Saints Estate Durif, Victoria( £16.00, 14%, Cockburn & Campbell )
Made from the comparatively rare Durif (aka Petite Sirah) grape variety, this carries its 14% alcohol with ease and seems much ligher than that on the palate. The All Saints hallmarks of freshenss and balance are attractively expressed here. There’s plum, some nutmeg spice, a nip of dry tannin and bright, almost Italianate acidity.
NV All Saints Grand Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria( £40, 18%, Cockburn & Campbell )
Wow! When Aussie stickies are as good as this, they are some of the greatest fortified wines in the world. This ambre-hued, mature, non vintage Muscat is a stunner, all dates and rose petal, with a hint of Oloroso Sherry. Treacle, molasses, unctuous sweetness and a finish that goes on for ever.
NV All Saints Grand Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria( £75, 18%, Cockburn & Campbell )
Rare sums it up. It’s not often that I’m reduced to silent contemplation, but that happened here. This is a tresure of a wine, one to be sipped and supped and drooled over. Incredibly perfumed, rose petal and rancio aromas sashay intocomplex, nut fig and walnut flavours on the palate. Decadent, complex, concentrated and intense. Essence of Rutherglen.
NV All Saints Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria( £13.5, 17%, Cockburn & Campbell )
Sweet, floral, rosepetal notes on the nose, followed by youthful, high toned, fig and molasses on the palate. This is quite a young style of Muscat (relatively speaking, of course), but it’s delightfully poised and fragrant with a luscious, sweet, mouth-coating texture and good length.
2005 CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva, Alavesa, Rioja( £21.49, 13.5%, Majestic )
A much more modern style than we’ve grown accustomed to from CVNE in recent years, this is youthful and vigorous for a Gran Reserva, with the emphasis on vibrant Tempranillo fruit. The freshness of the Alavesa vineyards is really evident on the palate. This is refreshing and fine, with sweet oak, medium weight tannins and nuanced red and black fruits flavours. An interesting change of tack by CVNE.
2011 CVNE Viña Real Rioja Blanco, Alavesa, Rioja( £9.99, 13%, Majestic )
By the very oaky standards of some white Riojas, this is comparatively light on the barrel influence. It’s a subtle, lightly smoky Viura with a herbal touch and well integrated vanilla oak. The palate is fresh, yet textured, with good length and a savoury finish.
2011 Monemvasia Kidonitsa, Laconia( £11.50, 13%, Bowes Wine )
The Kidonitsa grape may be new to you (you’re not alone there), but don’t worry about that because it’s a great drink. Spritzy and slightly honeyed, with the texture of a Pinot Gris but an extra dimension of flavour. A touch of straw, some ginger spice, a whisper of thyme. You can almost smell the Med.
2008 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California( US$39, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )
This doesn’t quite scale the same heights as this winery’s recent Chardonnay release, but it’s still an impressive West Coast Pinot, appealingly priced by the standards of some California reds. It’s a full bodied style with flavours of ripe red fruits and sweet vanilla oak and a touch of leafy forest floor. The alcohol is a little intrusive on the finish perhaps, but this is still a Pinot with depth and flavour.