Unoaked Loire Cabernet Franc is one of my favourite styles wine: light, fresh and grassy, with subtle lead pencil aromas and a bright, cool climate finish. That’s exactly what you get here, with acidity that works really well with cheese and red meats.
Brent Marris’ well-distributed Sauvignon tends to be on a deal more often than not, but even at its full retail price it delivers in the glass, unfurling flavours of passion fruit, gooseberry and melon. Flavoursome stuff at a fair price.
There’s no mistaking the grape variety of this late picked Alsace dessert wine. It’s a classic lychee and rose petal style Gewürz, with sweet apricot, pineapple and peach flavours and a hint of exotic spice. Very decadent.
You might be surprised to learn that Germany sells more Grauer Burgunder (aka Pinot Gris) in the UK than Riesling. The statistic is less depressing when you taste a wine like this soft, pear, fig and apple-like example from the Rheinhessen, however. A very appealing dry white with more acidity than is immediately apparent.
Tim and Judy Finn’s Chardonnay is established as one of the three best Chardonnays in New Zealand and this vintage more than lives up to its reputation. It’s a leesy, creamy, deftly oaked wine with attractive stone fruit flavours, hints of cashew, oatmeal and toast and a focused, minerally finish. Superb stuff.
The top red wine from LaFou is an impressive blend of mostly Grenache with lesser amounts of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, again showing judicious oak handling, refreshing minerality and ripe, but not over-ripe flavours of plum, chocolate and red fruits, with hints of tapenade and a brisk, refreshing finish. This is winemaking of a high order.
The use of oak is restrained here (one of the distinguishing features of this impressive Terra Alta winery) allowing the fruit to express itself. It’s a subtle, finely crafted blend of mostly Garnacha with 30% Syrah and 10% Morenillo (yup, I had to to look that one up, too), showing, sweet red fruits, subtle vanilla spice, bright acidity and polished tannins.
Made entirely from Garnacha Blanca, this delicately oaked white is creamy and herbal, with lovely texture, pear and honeysucke fruit. a touch of aniseed and a taut, minerally finish.
Sourced mostly from the Côte des Blancs and including 30% of reserve wines, Henriot’s Blanc de Blancs is a non vintage wine that tastes like a vintage release. It’s rich, toasty and just off dry with notes of brioche and toast and a subtle, tapering finish. One of the best Blanc de Blancs on the market.
Made entirely from Chardonnay, this Franciacorta fizz doesn’t show its age. It’s on the swee side, with notes of peach and apricot, small bubbles and a soft, caressing finish. A good Champagne substitute at a decent price.
Syrah, Grenache and Carignan combine to very good effect in this dense, spicy, garrigue-scented red from the best part of the Minervois appellation. It’s a sun-kissed number with ripe, yet full tannins, flavours of blackberry, rosemary, thyme and liquorice and a chalky undertone from its vineyard source. Inky and ripe, but fresh and fine at the same time.
Kevin Judd was better known at Cloudy Bay, just as he is at Greywacke, for his Sauvignon Blancs than his Chardonnay, but he’s always been a very skilful producer of the latter grape. This is arguably the best Chardonnay he’s made yet at his new venture, a minerally, citrus-tinged white with deftly interwoven oak and flavours of oatmeal and honey. Very classy.