Less sweet than many commercial Ripasso bottlings – and none the worse for that – this is also showing a bit of bottle-aged complexity, combining notes of plum, strawberry and fig, a nip of tannin and no obvious oak. The combination of fruit, acidity and residual sugar is very well handled here.
A prime example of why it’s worth paying just a little but more (and still less than most Champagne and English fizz) to drink top end Cava rather than the basic supermarket stuff. Rich, honeyed, yet bone dry, this is a traditional style with toasty maturity and the slight bitterness that’s often a feature of Xarel-lo based wines.
One of a trio of still Xarelo-los from Cava producer, Gramona, this was fermented in concrete eggs (hence the name) and is a thrilling wine that puts the variety on a pedestal where it belongs. Bone dry, rich and complex, with spice, texture and focused minerality, even at a comparatively modest 12%, it’s an unbelievable bargain. You can order it from Spain, but (to my knowledge) it’s not available in the UK. It should be.
This is a comparatively forward style of vintage Champage, as many of the 2006s are. It’s rich, toasty and stylish with an undertone of wild mushroom, some spice, fine, pin-head bubbles and a lingering dry finish. Delicious to drink now, but should keep for another four or five years thanks to its taut underlying acidity.
Grown on granitic soils close to Cambados – the self-styled capital of the Albariño grape – this is a remarkable old vine cuvée from one of the best producers of the grape in Rías Baixas. Scented, pure and beautifully balanced, with undertones of lime and apple, it unfurls impressive richness on the palate with pear and stone fruit flavours and a fine, linering finish.
Tawny Port doesn’t get a whole lot better than this incredible elixir of a wine. Fig, Christmas cake and rancio notes combine beautifully in this savoury/sweet delight. The fortifiication is perfectly judged, while the finish lingers enticingly on the tongue.
A rich, even heady expression of the Moscatel (Muscat) grape, this is luscious and palate-coating, with flavours of orange peel, dried fruits and beeswax and spirity note that complements rather than overwhelms the wine. Sweet and complex, it’s really good with full-flavoured desserts.
An impressive, four-way blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, assisted by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a dash of Petit Verdot, that nods towards the Médoc as much as its native New World. Floral, refined and well balanced with stylish, savoury oak, a solid backbone of tannin and a tangy, refreshing finish. A wien that slides over the tongue.
Inky, youthful and richly oaked, this is an impressive Gimblett Gravels blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec that needs a year or two to marry in bottle. Spicy, vanilla-scented notes are complemented by flavours of graphite, dark plums and cassis with bright, underlying freshness.
Bold, inky and dark, with aromas of clove spice and hot stones, this is a rich, complex Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels, packed with stony complexity, firm tannins, refreshing acidity and brooding blackberry fruit. Why don’t more people plant Syrah in New Zealand?
One for opera buffs, or possibly just bohemians, this is an Aussie take on an Alsace-style blend, based on Pinot Gris. Aromatic and appealing, with orchard fruit and spring blossom on the nose, it segues into waxy, pear and apple spice flavours and a tangy finish.
Winemaker Gordon Russell is better known for his skills with Bordeaux than Rhône varieties, but he’s very bit as adept at both. This is a classic Kiwi Syrah, combining intensity with freshness, perfume with fruit weight. Pepper spicy, firm and focused, it’s more Cornas than Crozes-Hermitage in style, with the structure to age.