There aren’t many wineries in the world that have successfully combined Pinot Noir with Syrah, but this biodynamic blend is so successful that I wish more people would follow suit. Pinot tames the peppery, iodine-like notes of Martinborough Syrah, adding a softer, more “feminine” touch. The oak is very understated, while the flavours of clove spice, red fruits and a hint of forest floor revolve around a core of bright acidity. Unusual, but very tasty indeed.
There’s been a lot of talk about the 2013 Bordeaux whites being the vintage’s silver lining, but it’s important to remember that there are some appealing older vintage on the market that are already in bottle, this being a case in point. This is quite an opulent Pessac-Léognan, exhibiting flavours of guava and melon, subtle oak, a touch of gunflint and a fat, lees-influenced finish.
Te Koko is made in much smaller quantities than Cloudy Bay’s regular Sauvignon Blanc, and it’s a much more interesting wine, benefiting from wild yeast fermentation in French oak. Some people find the funky flavours a little challenging, but I love them. This is smoky and complex, with yeasty, doughy aromas, pithy grapefruit-like acidity, a touch of wax and gunflint and long, lingering finish. A wine that wouldn’t look out of place in Pessac-Léognan.
Things have changed for the better, now that Telmo Rodriguez is back at Remelluri, one of Rioja’s first estates. This is a more forward expression of Tempranillo than the bodega’s more expensive releases, with bags of bright, brambly, red berry fruit, medium weight tannins and a sweet, succulent finish that emphasises gluggability.
The price of this eminently gluggable Vinho Verde has crept up in recent years (although it’s sometimes on a deal at Majestic), but it was almost too cheap before, given its quality. It’s light and refreshing, with appealing spritz, a whiff of the Atlantic and delicious peach, guava and citrus notes. Just as good as many more expensive Spanish Albariños produced on the other side of the border.
This is a complex blend of old vine Garnacha with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan (Samsó) from one of the best cooperatives in Spain. Think of it as a mini-Priorat, but at a slightly lower price. Plum, spice and chocolate-like flavours are appealingly intertwined here, with the Cabernet adding some leafy freshness to the herbal, earthy Mediterranean flavours. The minerality and the acidity keep the wine fresh, despite its comparatively high alcohol.
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo from Valencia? Not exactly run of the mill stuff, but this white duo from Spain’s eastern coast is very tasty stuff. It’s ripe and spicy, with sweet vanilla oak, flavours of pear and honeysuckle and a hint of ginger for good measure. Highly unusual, and further confirmation that Spain’s white wines are on a roll.
A Catalan blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cariñena made in small quantities by an impressive garagiste operation. It’s quite Bordeaux-like in style with a warm, Mediterranean twist. It’s a tangy, savoury, youthful red with vibrant cassis and red berry fruit, tangy acidity and fine-grained tannins.
I’m not sure what the varieties are here, but the fact that the wine comes from old bush vines in the Itatata Valley suggests that they are unlikely to be Chardonnay. All I know from Chilean winemaker Leonardo Erazo is that this is a field blend. It’s floral, fresh and comparatively low in alcohol reflecting its cool climate origins with notes of acacia honey, orange zest and white flowers and little or no oak in evidence. Minerally and fresh with considerable, savoury complexity.