Bonarda is regarded as something of a quaffing variety in Argentina, good for everyday drinking but not capable of anything more exciting. But hang on…this is an incredible red from Sebastián Zuccardi, which takes the variety to new heights. Brambly, savoury and intense, with plum and blueberry fruit, sweet oak and old vine concentration.
Pewsey Vale, Yalumba’s Eden Valley outpost, makes some of my favourite Aussie Rieslings. They are good young but develop stylshly in bottle. This is crisp, focused and tangy with lime and pink grapefruit flavours and a stony, pithy backbone of acidity. Long and focused on the palate.
Jansz’s “ordinary” cuvée is pretty good, so you’d expect a premium cuvée to be even better. And, guess what, you won’t be disappointed. This is a little richer and toastier than the regular release, with notes of toast and cream and a supple cushion of bubbles. Appealingly dry.
If you love Fino Sherry – and who doesn’t? – this is about as good as it gets: an unfined, unfiltered fortified that was bottled in April when the flor yeast is at its thickest on the surface of the wine, giving it that bready, savoury complexity. More deeply coloured than the regular Tio Pepe, this is a salty, tangy delight that’s absolutely brilliant with a plate of anchovies or almonds. Essence of Andalusia.
Made in a spicy, off-dry style that takes its inspiration from Alsace rather than northern Italy, this is a finely weighted Pinot Gris, with musk, peach and pear flavours, a creamy texture and enough acidity for balance. Exotic, but refreshing at the same time.
Kevin Judd is a master of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As its name suggests, this is his wild yeast-fermented expression of the grape, along the lines of Cloudy Bay’s Te Koko. It’s a stunning wine, combining notes of white Burgundy, white Bordeaux and Kiwi fruit exuberance. The older oak is very subtle, the savoury, grapefruity, yeasty flavours perfectly judged.
A winery that is best known for its great value Argentinean reds, Viñalba can strut its stuff with white grapes too. This is a classically aromatic example of Torrontés, Argentina’s adopted white grape, with lemon peel and sherbet flavours, bright acidity and a hint of lime zest.
After the hoopla surrounding the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux, 2011 was bound to be a bit of a let down, despite the fact that it produced plenty of decent wines. This is a case in point: a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend that’s supple and forward (especially for the vintage), with attractive, grassy, refreshing flavours and a nip of tannin.
As good as ever, this textbook Marlborough Sauvignon has more depth and layers than most local examples, combining grapefruit and guava fruit with pithy acidity and notes of green herbs, green pepper and zing. These Sauvignons age surprisingly well, too.
2006 is a delicious vintage in Piemonte – less ripe than 2007, perhaps, but more classic in structure. This is still in short trousers, but it’s already approachable, with lifted aromas of tar, red fruits and incense, medium weight tannins, bight acidity and a core of savoury, focused fruit. Needs food to shine.
I’m a huge fan of Vermentino wherever it’s grown, but this Sardinian example is a total bargain. It’s ripe and spicy, with plenty of colour as well as notes of fresh straw, pear and aniseed, a bitter, nutty undertone and refreshing acidity. Superb value at under £11.
Arneis is Piedmont’s best white grape in my opinion, especially when it offers the sort of value and fruit concentration on show here from Ascheri in Bra. Refeshing and zesty, with a slight spritz, but with plenty of weight and concentration behind, with pear and angelica spice and a deliciously bitter twist.