Marcelo Retamal is one of the most exciting winemakers in South America at the moment, crafting wines that are as refreshing as they are restrained. This delicious Cinsault was fermented in old terracotta amphorae, eschewing the oak that marrs too many Chilean reds. The result is a wine with refreshing, cherrystone and raspberry flavours, subtle tannins and impressive palate length. Chile should be making more wines like this.
Contino is one of the properties that launched the single estate movement in Rioja, a superb wine that develops beautifully in bottle. 2008 was a late, cool vintage in Rioja, giving this blend of mostly Tempranillo with Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano a refreshing, low key elegance. Sublte and refined, with red fruits, subtle oak, some plummy tannins and deftly integrated oak.
Assyrtiko is one of the most under-rated grapes in the world, especially when it’s grown on the volcanic soils of the island of Santorini. Bone dry, minerally and deliciously austere, this example from Gaia shows the variety at its delicious best with notes of quinine and lemon zest and incredible extract and concentration. A total bargain at £14.95.
This is one of the best vintages yet of this modern Veneto blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese, partly made using the Ripasso technique. The chalky soils of this excellent vineyard are apparent in the freshness and minerality of the wine. It’s compact, yet still bright and nuanced, showing subtle oak, good structure and flavours of bramble and blackberry, with a savoury, earthy twist.
Leah is a blend of the three Seresin estate vineyards (Home, Tatou and Raupo Creek) and is often the most forward of the Pinots from this outstanding Marlborough producer. 2011 was a tricky vintage for Pinot in New Zealand, but this top-notch biodynamic producer has excelled. This is concentrated, spicy and textured with notes of white pepper and red fruits, plenty of concentration, well integrated oak and a complex, earthy finish.
De Martino’s Viejas Tinajas project is producing some of Chile’s most interesting wines at the moment. This savoury, aromatic white has a touch of grapeskin bitterness to it that adds structure as well as a layer of complexity. It’s not a typical Muscat by any means: you can taste the grapey notes of the variety but they are subtle and restrained rather than overt.
CVNE’s Imperial is one of Rioja’s best value, ageworthy wines. This is still an infant and will need at least another five years in bottle to come close to its best. Dense, concentrated and sweetly oaked with a chalky undertone adding freshness and bite to the plum and raspberry fruit flavours. Traditional Rioja at its youthful best.
An evocative name for a delicious wine. This full-bodied “dry” Riesling from the Waipara Valley is actually off-dry, but it’s none the worse for that. This is exotic and rich, with old vine complexity and flavours of lime, peach and nectarine. It’s especially good with spicy food, but is also delicious as an aperitif.
There aren’t many producers around the world who can make Bordeaux blends to rival the stuff that’s made in Pessac-Léognan, but Pegasus Bay is one of them. This delicately oaked, full-bodied cuvée is rich and sumptuous, with waxy, herbal flavours, a hint of vanilla and a tangy, refeshing finish. On past form, this should age well too.
A blend of 20 wines from ten different vintages, some of which are 15 years old, Krug’s non-vintage blend is one of a kind. It’s rich, complex and palate coating, with small bubbles, savoury, umami notes, hints of hazelnut and honey and a dry, refeshing palate. The kind of Champagne that works extremely well with food rather than as an aperitif.
Sourced from England’s oldest commercial vineyard (we are talking 1952), this blend of the Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is delicious, a fizz that manages to taste English while showing the complexity and nuances of a top Champagne. It’s chalky and dry, with subtle bubbles, hints of fresh pastry and citrus and a tapering finish: elegant, refined and understated.
At its best, Franciacorta can rank among the best sparkling wines in the world. This is rich, bready and nicely developed with toasty complexity, fine bubbles and a dry, savoury finish. Tangy, chalky and long on the palate.