One of the best reds in the Languedoc (and at a very affordable price, too), this blend of Syrah with 20% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre also proves that the region’s top wines age gracefully. It’s sweet and savoury with fruit flavours that nod towards Pinot Noir as well as more Mediterranean varieties, but with a dusting of wild herbs and a touch more alcohol.
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.
A remarkable Tasmanian Chardonnay from Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith, the team behind Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills. This is dense, flavoursome stuff that wouldn’t look out of place in a Meursault Premier Cru bottle, with subtle, toasty oak, lots of mid-palate weight, flavours of struck flint, citrus and pear and a long, tapering finish.
Not quite as thrilling as the Tolpuddle Chardonnay, but this is still an impressive Aussie Pinot from Tasmania’s Coal River Valley. Supple and fragrant, with aromas of rose petal and red fruits, a touch of oak, fine tannins and good grip on the finish. The cool climate acidity gives the wine real length on the finish.
A cru bourgeois that punches well above its weight, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot typifies the best feautures of the 2010 vintage: freshness and concentration of flavour. It’s ripe, yet well balanced with flavours of cassis and plum, a hint of damson and fine, structured tannins. Needs time.
Craggy Range makes some of the best Pinot Noirs in New Zealand, without charging the high prices of some of its competitors. This is a typically savoury Martinborough Pinot Noir, with less colour than examples from Central Otago, but more complexity than the majority from Marlborough. Red cherry and pomegranate, toasty oak, medium-weight tannins and a long, refreshing finish. It should age nicely, too.
A bottle of this superlative Albariño is never far from my hand when I’m on holiday in Spain in the summer. The 2012 is well up to the high standards of recent vintages, possibly with a little more weight. Floral pefume, lemon and lime on the palate, crisp acidity and a hint of spritz: it all adds up to a delicious Atlantic-influenced white.
On a deal for the next week, before it reverts to £16.99 after Christmas, this is a well-balanced, aromatic claret that is more focused and refined than many 2009s, but is still pretty forward and full of flavour: with subtle oak, riple plum and blueberry fruit and medium weight tannins. Very drinkable.