The enfant terrible of the Rhône is at the top of his form right now, even on wines from lesser appellations, such as Crozes-Hermitage. This has classic Syrah aromas of tapenade and smoked meat, allied to freshness, brightness and length. It’s organic, its unoaked and it’s truly delicious.
Always good to see an Italian wine with some bottle age on a supermarket shelf, especially when it’s as good as this Sangiovese-based Tuscan red. It’s made in a modernised traditional style, with lovely floral, tealeafy flavours, fresh acidity and savoury, complex tannins. Drink it with a good winter stew and it will taste even better.
This is only the baby wine from this historic Cape winery (hence Kadette) but it’s still very impressive. A blend of mostly Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon with splashes of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it’s elegant and poised with polished tannins, seamless integration between the varieties and lots of potential. Long and well balanced, this carries its 14% alcohol with effortless grace.
The coastal region of Elquí, close to the edge of the Atacama desert, is one of the most exciting in the world. And the wines from this Italian-influenced winery are leading the way. This has the cool climate pepperiness of Syrah (the Pacific is not far away) with notes of raspberry, tomato leaf and clove spice. Close your eyes and you could be drinking something very grand from the Rhône Valley.
A bottle of my favourite Manzanilla for less than a tenner? Sign me up. This aged style from coastal Sanlúcar de Barrameda is an Andalucian classic. Rich and savoury, with yeasty, baking dough aromas, intense, salty, tangy flavours and a finish that goes on for so long it could outsell Viagra. An incredible wine at a bargain price.
Made by the brilliant André Figeat, this is a winner every year at JS, even in tricky vintages like 2011. Focused, nettley and taut, this is bright and refreshing with notes of minerals, dill, cut grass and citrus fruit. Long and complex on the palate, this is at its best with goat’s cheese.
The cooler Awatere Valley is producing someof Marlborough’s most distinctive Sauvignons at the moment, lighter and fresher in style than those of the neighbouring Wairau Valley. This is a very elgant Kiwi number, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Loire, with tangy elderflower and citrsu fruit notes and a fine, stony finish. Very poised, very self-assured.
There ought to be much more Roussanne planted in the hotter areas of the Cape than there is, given its suitability to such a climate. This one from Bellingham’s excellent Bernard Series is dry, and creamy with a smoky, spicy undertone and a herbal, refeshing finish. Let’s hope it’s an inspiration to others.
Thsi has been on the shelves for a while at JS, which suggests that (baffling though it is to me) it isn’t selling. This is the weekend to rectify that, because it’s an amazing wine at the price. Light-bodied, in classic Hunter style, with notes of toast and lemon sherbet and a tangy finish from early picked grapes. Essence of the Hunter.
This is only the entry point Viognier from Yalumba, but winemaker Louisa Rose’s magic touch with the variety is gloriously apparent here, making this the best value example of the grape in the country right now. Aromatic and creamy, with hints of aniseed and white peach and a luscious, almost decadent finish. Yum, yum.
Well, that’s my Christmas Party fizz taken care of. This is outrageously good value, a superb own-label Champagne that ranks with the very best buys in the high street right now. It’s a toasty, bottle-aged blend of mostly Pinot Meunier with 40% Pinot Noir and it’s singing at the top of its voice. Small bubbles, great length, richness and complexity, with lots of extra weight from 30% reserve wines. Buy, buy, buy.
If you feel like treating your nearest and dearest (or just yourself) on Christmas Day, I’d buy a bottle of this very smart white Burgundy from one of the best vintages of the last 50 years. Focused and rich, with lovely oak integration, mealy, buttery notes and a foundation of minerally, limestone-related acidity. The wine is great now, but will happily sit in your wine rack for another five years or more.