White wines from the baking plains of southern Portugal are often rather flabby and dull, but this perky number from one of the region’s best producers is anything but, showing tangy acidity, bright, citrus peel flavours and a minerality that wouldn’t look out of place in Chablis. Bring on the seafood.
Graciano is more readily associated with neighbouring Rioja (and then only in small quantities) than Navarra, but this one from the youthful Adriana Ochoa is superb. It’s almost Italian in style, with marked acidity, some spice and a fair bit of tannin, but there’s some black cherry and bramble fruit to add sweetness and flesh to the bones.
You could open this impressive Cabernet/Shiraz blend right now, but you’d be missing out on what the wine will do in bottle. This is the top red from Yalumba in most vintages and that’s the case here. It’s rich and deeply coloured, but not over-ripe or blowsy in the slightest. Structured and sweet, with nuances of blueberry, mint, chocolate and vanilla, polished, fine-grained tannins a a long, satisfying finish.
Interesting to see New Zealand’s biggest producer branching out into the production of high end, late picked dessert-style Sauvignon Blanc and selling it on line through its own channels. The result is very tasty, with syrupy, but not cloying flavours of exotic mango and pink grapefruit, light alcohol and well judged sweetness.
Superb Tokay from one of the best, modern-style producers in this most traditional of sweet wine regions. This is still a very young wine, even at six years old, with the acidity you expect from Furmint. It’s bitingly fresh, but the appley tartness is balanced by pear and honeyed sweetness, with hints of white flowers and remarkable concentration and length. One to buy now and hold on to for a decade.
That’s £15 per half by the way, just in case you were amazed by the bargain on offer here. Still, it’s a lovely Sauternes, made by a property that made some of the best sweet wines in Bordeaux in 2009. This is honeyed and intense, but with less concentration than the same château’s grown up wine. Sweet vanilla pod and crème brûlée notes combine with a citrus lift on the palate. Classy stuff.
A Prosecco with a bit of bling? You might blink at the idea of spending £15 on a bottle of cuve close method fizz, but this is rather good: drier than most examples, with floral aromas, pear and nectarine fruit and small bubbles. Soft and very easy to drink, darling.
It’s always hot in the Douro, but it was really, really hot in 2003 and I think it shows in the wines. This is a big, if slightly pruney style with more than a hint of Douro bake. Packed with black fruits and liquorice and pretty serious tannins, it needs more time in bottle to sweeten up and shed some of the sturdy backbone.
The received wisdom (at least round my gaff) is that 20-year-old Tawnies are better than the 10-year-old versions, but this wine challenges that. It will improve further in bottle, but it’s remarkable now, an intense, nutty, figgy fortified with more tannin and concentration than commerical Tawnies at lower price points. In short, it’s worth the extra cash: a sweet, yet structured, wood-matured Port with impressive palate length.
If you’re a fan of vintage dated Tawnies (aka Colheita Ports), they don’t come much better than this. It’s endearlingly, palate-stimulatingly spicy, with real intensity and focus, an impression of heat and figgy intensity, a faint undertone of spirit and a finish that lingers on the palate for minutes. The wine is drier than many examples, with the structure that is the hallmark of Noval’s wood-aged Ports.
2011 was a slightly tricky vintage in Chablis, so hats off to the Co-op for finding a wine that delivers under £10. It’s a fairly soft, forward style, but there’s enough steeliness to stop it cloying. It’s fresh and appealing with no oak and supple pear and spice on the palate.
This was a Christmas deal at The Co-op, so the price may have crept back up again in 2013, but this is still one hell of a wine: a Reserva Rioja from a top producer in a legendary vintage. It’s just starting to show its class, so don’t be afraid to tuck it away for a few years. Savoury and sweet with good structure and spice and finely judged oak.