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01 June 2010

Wines of the moment 2005 - 2010

Richard's wines of the moment 2005 - 2010

"Updated regularly or occasionally as fits the mood, these everyday wines, new releases or sporadic superstars caught my attention for one reason or another. Not exactly a wine of the week or month but could be: hopefully more spontaneous than that."
All of these wines first appeared on the 'old' WineWriting.com: from June 2010, my "wines of the moment" have been posted individually on this blog or any French Med "wotm" on FrenchMediterraneanWine.com as and when, as it seems like a better idea!

MOROCCO

2005 Celliers de Meknès L'Elixir des Empereurs Cuvée Juba II, Coteaux de l'Atlas (12.5%) - "sweet" maturing fruit with liquorice, prune, ripe blackcurrant and cinnamon notes too; smoky meaty vs ripe fruity flavours, quite soft and mature with subtly concentrated dried fruits and well-balanced finish. Couldn't find any info about this wine on their website but will add varieties etc if I do. Spring 2010. 87

GERMANY

1995 Fritz Haag Riesling Auslese, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr/Mosel - impeccable balance of old petrol-y maturity, oily mineral characters, a touch of sweetness and steely tart finish. So much flavour and complexity yet only 7% alcohol! Tried thanks to Luc Charlier at Domaine Coume Majou, March 2010. 95-97

ARGENTINA

2008 Finca la Linda Viognier Luigi Bosca Mendoza (14.5%) - appealing mix of rich, ripe and exotic peach/apricot fruit vs a fresher drier finish; fair weight and nice oily texture too making it a good foodie, e.g. goats' cheese & onion tart and especially the fresh breaded haddock. €22 Alexis bar & grill, Dublin. Feb 2010 87+

AUSTRIA

Weingut R&A Pfaffl 2008 Grüner Veltliner "Goldjoch" Niederösterreich (13%) - very aromatic and gummy with quince, white peach and gooseberry/kiwi fruit plus spicy & yeast-lees undertones; juicy and lively vs rounded/oily with fair depth and milky lees edges, finishing with refreshing acidity and peppery notes adding nice crisp length, coupled with zesty vs "sweet" fruit. Dec 2009 87-89
Profile on Pfaffl and more wines to follow.

ENGLAND

2006 Ridgeview Cuvée Merret Bloomsbury, Sussex (Chardonnay Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier 12%) - consistently one of the best "traditional-method" English sparkling wines: this vintage is lightly toasty and oat-cakey with maturing fruit vs nice crisp acidity, tasty "sweet & savoury" flavours and fine poise; easily as good as many premium non-vintage, or vintage even, Champagnes. £20 Waitrose. Summer 2009 88-90

HUNGARY

1999 Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos Disznókő (11.5%, 12g total acidity, 165g/l residual sugar) - 99 is rated by Disznókő and others as "the vintage of the decade" in Tokaj. I first tasted this wine in October 2006 - see "articles archive" for the full report on that trip including loads more Disznókő wines - and again in February 2009. It obviously has decades left in it yet, as after re-reading my previous note, the wine hasn't changed much. Still shows huge amounts of absolutely delicious and lush-textured dried apricot and raisin fruit with exotic & spicy yet complex & savoury flavours; it's now a touch more oxidising in style (but not that much) with more apparent toffee and baked nut (pecan, walnut) notes; and still very intense, very concentrated and very lemony on the finish with that extraordinary acidity creating a tight framework and reining in the sweetness. Wow: I should've kept it for longer, then again it might outlive me and it was a good opportunity to share it. 95-97

SOUTH AFRICA

Spring 2010

2007 Secateurs Red and 2009 Secateurs Chenin Blanc, AA Badenhorst Family Wines, Malmesbury - as featured here on this blog.

Autumn 2009

2006 Bellingham Pinotage "with a dash of Petit Verdot," Coastal region (12% PV apparently, 14% alc.) - quirky little number showing pretty typical "sweet & sour" Pinotage characters, attractive spicy red pepper vs dark berries and toasty chocolate nose/palate; quite big and lush mouthfeel vs peppery bitter twist, fairly mature and well-balanced, firm vs ripe tannins. Very nice with lamb actually. €5.70 88

Winter 2008

2007 The Society's Pinotage, Bon Cap Organic Wines, Robertson (13.5%) - attractive 'sweet and sour' mix with crunchy black and red fruits tinged with charred chocolate oak and herbal undertones; spicy powerful mouth-feel v soft and lightly savoury/gamey, lush v bitter twist to finish. £6.50 (£78 case of 12). 87+

NEW ZEALAND

Summer 2008

2000 Dry River Estate, Gewurztraminer no. 1240 (13%) - dark golden colour with rich mature lychee and marmalade nose, complex and oily too; sweet-textured and off-dry mouth-feel leading on to still fresh acidity v nice oily quince fruit; unusual, a kind of mushroomy intricacy as well (but not corky/mouldy)! 90+

PORTUGAL

February 2008

2005 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage, Taylor's – enticing rich blackberry, damson and liquorice aromas enhanced by spicy alcohol (although not stinging) and fresh leather tones; pretty full-on lush sweet fruit v attractively ripe tannins, lending solid framework without any heavy extraction; submerged alcohol and nice peppery fruit make it surprisingly approachable now, yet its underlying structure and concentration indicate 5-10 years cellaring should reveal more. UK £25 / US $54. 90-92

Croft Pink Port, Fladgate Partnership/Taylor's – OK it's a clever logical stroke of marketing and looks great, but this 'port', for want of a better word, is quite attractive and a bit different; very aromatic red-fruity and rose petal nose moves onto fruity sweet palate cut nicely by the alcohol. £10 / $20. 85

CHILE

Spring-Summer 2009

Yali National Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley (14%) - intriguing slightly reductive herbal notes with lively cassis and light cinnamon / cedar, turning a touch savoury vs liquoricey vs tart fruit; quite punchy alcohol with dry yet nicely grained cinnamon / coconut tannins, rounded v powerful finish. Drinking now although should develop a little in bottle over the next year. After being open for a day, it gets fruitier and softer although still a tad clumsy at the end of the day. £6.99 Majestic (UK). 85-87

Winter 2008-2009

2008 Cono Sur Reserva Riesling, Bio Bio region (13.5%) - attractive white peach and floral lime aromas/flavours, nice weight and oily texture v crisp citrus and mineral bite, off-dry finish. £5.99 on offer at Tesco (UK). 87+

April 2007

2006 Tacón Alto Chardonnay, Viña Las Niñas, Colchagua Valley (14.5%) - chocolate oak tones suffused with white peach and pineapple, cleaner juicy fruit on the palate v toasty backdrop, freshness v power; nice with food, a bit heavy on its own. Worth it for the camp orange 'shoebox'; at least, if you buy two bottles... I assume this means high heel in Spanish? 87

Feb 2007

2005 Aconcagua Pinot Noir, Viña Carmen (14%) - seductive 'sweet and savoury' aromas showing herbal red pepper, raspberry and cherry v complex truffle undertones; ripe v tangy fruit, silky and maturing yet quite firm and fresh. Good with lamb shank. £7.99 The Vine King, Reigate (Surrey, England). 88-90

2006 Tesco Finest Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Ventisquero; Casablanca Valley (14%) - vibrant pure, gooseberry and citrus fruit with zesty crisp structure; ripe & oily with green edges, juicy fresh finish. Allegedly half price: not really worth £7.99, obviously great value at £3.99. 87

AUSTRALIA

Summer-autumn 2008

2006 Howcroft Estate Cabernet Merlot, Limestone Coast, South Australia (13.5%) - nice cassis, raisin and dried plum aromas and flavours; quite understated or elegant even, despite having a little punch, although it's somehow a touch dilute; but it finishes with seductive maturing sweet v savoury fruit and soft texture. Supposedly half-price at £3.99, which is definitely great value although it wasn't worth £7.99 in the first place. Tesco Finest. 87

May 2006

2005 Riesling Pirie South, Tasmania - tight and floral with zesty mineral underbelly, light and fine. 89
2005 Chardonnay Pirie South, Tasmania - delicate creamy tones mix with intricate green-edged peachy fruit; again tight, steely and fresh. 89
More Oz wines like this please!

ITALY

Spring 2009

2005 Piccini Gran Selezione Oro Chianti Riserva (95% Sangiovese 5% Merlot 13.5%) - nice traditional style showing smoky tobacco and fig notes with dried cherries and a hint of balsamic; quite lush and concentrated, tasty ripe v savoury fruit set on a touch of firm tannins and fresh acidity, 'sweetness' v spice on its well-balanced finish. Second day - more of those volatile balsamic notes and tobacco / leather v 'sweet' and savoury; softer palate, still tasty although beginning to fade a little. Mature now but it won't drop dead soon. Good with mushroom, basil and Comté risotto (with some of the wine in it too). Perhaps a bit dear at £9.99, then again Tesco (UK) is giving it away for a Fiver until 13th May 2009. 87-89
2008 Alta Italia 'Vigneti' Pinot Grigio, Cavit, Valdadige (12.5%) - attractive superior PG with lots of honeyed v spicy fruit and zesty gummy mouth-feel, tasty with slightly oily texture v fresh crisp finish. Better than a lot of PG sloshing around (and actually tastes like PG), although a bit dear at £7.99 (Tesco). 85+


Summer 2008

2007 Villa Flora Lugana DOC, Zenato (Trebbiano de Lugana 13%) - quite intricate and concentrated dry white from near Lake Garda in the north. White nectarine and greengage fruit with mineral/vegetal fennel-like notes; fairly full and rounded showing maturing fruit flavours yet still quite lively and refreshing on the finish too. Waitrose £6.99. 87+

April 2006

2003 Barbera d'Alba superiore Bricco Airoli, Giovanni Viberti, Piemonte (northwest) (13%) - first rate example of new wave Barbera: pretty dense and chunky with attractive earthy plum fruit, shows some firmness and fresh acidity nicely rounded out by subtle background oak on its long finish. 90+

March 06

2004 Pinot Grigio, Tenuta Ca' Vescovo, Friuli Aquileia (northeast) (12%) - juicy spiced honey fruit with oily mineral notes, quite richly textured mouth-feel and still showing nice freshness on the finish. €5 85+

FRANCE

Summer 2010

2009 Château La Grave red Minervois (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - vibrant spicy black cherry, cassis and liquorice; juicy, fairly easy with soft-ish palate and nice fruity finish. €5.90 cellar door, £6.95 Stone Vine & Sun. 85+

Spring 2010

2007 Castel Fossibus red Faugères Domaine Ollier Taillefer (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre 13.5%) - spicy floral herby vs vibrant black cherry notes underlined by a touch of smoky development; well-handled mix of light oak spice, good fruit and attractive tannins on the palate. €12.50 87-89

2007 Expression Brut Crémant de Limoux Antech (Mauzac, Chardonnay, Chenin 12%) - quite fine fizz (especially at this price) with subtle toasted yeast tones vs creamier fruit vs quite zingy citrus; elegant bubbles with nice bready vs fruity vs oily, off-dry finish. €5.50 87
More Limoux bubbles here.

2009 Côtes du Roussillon rosé Château Pézilla (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan 13%) - vivid deep red cherry colour preempts its lively aromatic red cherry and raspberry fruit; zesty juicy palate, nice fruity finish vs crisp twist. €3.30 85

2007 Carnache Corbières-Boutenac Château Maylandie (Carignan/Grenache 13.5%) - black cherry, damson and cassis with smoky spicy tones, hints of tobacco and light vanilla/coconut too; attractive thick coating of dark chocolate, berries, liquorice and chunky dry tannins; quite concentrated and powerful with dense fruit, sweet vs meaty finish and lively, light coconut grip. Needs a few months in bottle to round out a little, yet pretty promising. March. 89-91

Winter 2009/2010

2006 Cuvée l'olivette Pic-Saint-Loup Clos Marie (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - smoky and lush showing nice depth and weight, pretty chunky tannins adding dry texture and bitter twist/bite; fair oomph and grip vs dark cherry liquorice and tobacco, needs a year or so to come together fully. Turns a tad rustic and leather-tinged with very firm framework, but its solid trad Languedoc style seduces you in the end. A bit dear though @ €12.50. 88

2008 "One Block" Côtes du Roussillon Domaine Treloar (mostly Grenache, Syrah 13.5%) - nice upfront chunky, spicy and lightly smoky style; showing lush dark cherry and liquorice vs tad of spicy wood texture and dry grip, then lively peppery dried black fruit finish. Approx €7.50 France, €9.50 Germany, £10 UK. 87+

2008 Touraine-Mesland blanc Clos Château Gaillard (80% Chenin blanc 20% Chardonnay 12.5% alc, biodynamic) - intriguing dry white from an obscure little wine region on the Loire found between Tours and Blois. Nutty appley nose enhanced by more exotic, botrytis even (?) notes; attractive rounded oily palate underpinned by refreshing appley bite, subtly zesty/leesy intensity turning nuttier, creamier and, in the end, towards "fino" tones. Auchan €6.50. 89

2008 Le Rosé Côtes du Brulhois Clos Pountet (Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tannat 12%; converting to organic) - another equally obscure wine area although in the southwest, between Agen and Auch. Lively rosé style with a refreshing crisp edge nicely balanced out by an elegantly creamy, red-fruit cocktail. Makes me want to find out about their reds too... c. €3.50. 85

2008 Montagny "Les Crets" Domaine Feuillat-Juillot (Burgundy, Chardonnay 13%) - fairly lean and closed up at first, slowly revealing subtle creaminess vs juicy citrus fruit vs more celery/mineral-like edges; quite fine, crisp and tight on the finish with underlying rounded/buttery/oily tones reminiscent of good Chablis. Value @ €5.29 (Champion/Carrefour "wine fair" leftover, not for long though...). 87+

2008 Tautavel Côtes du Roussillon Villages Domaine des Trois Vallées (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - quite chocolate oaky to start, but it has nice rich fruit too showing liquorice and spicy floral notes; attractive combo of dry grip and refreshing bite on the finish. 87+

2007 Elégant Carignan "vieilles vignes" Domaine Mastrió vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (13.5%) - aromatic, floral even, blueberry fruit on nose and palate; shows nice elegance vs intensity, rich and ripe vs spicy with subtle oak notes; attractive texture and length too. 90+

2005 Carinyana 1878 Domaine Puig-Parahÿ Roussillon (very old Carignan 14.5%) - a touch stewed/oxidised although attractively mature and meaty/savoury with caramel and tobacco notes too; quirky old style turning more attractive with a bit of air (despite its apparent rapid development) with nice soft liquorice finish vs peppery notes too. 85+

Above wine discovered at a Domaine Treloar wine club "themed" tasting evening (lots more Roussillon here and here). It also prompted me to go and see Georges Puig down in Passa: full profile and tasting notes on 'French Catalonia Wine', including a red Rivesaltes (Vin Doux Naturel) from 1945!

2008 Pinot Noir Domaine de la Rotisserie Haut-Poitou (14%) - subdued and subtle to start, this deep rosé style shows very lightly creamy red fruits set on a crisp tight palate, finishing with "sweeter" rounder mouthfeel probably thanks to that 14% although it does hide it well. 85

2008 Trémoine de Rasiguères rosé Côtes du Roussillon (13.5%) - less chunky and red than the 2007 but still a big fruity winter rosé, with weighty oily mouthfeel vs lively refreshing red fruit finish and light bitter twist too. €5.90 87

Autumn 2009

"Primeur" wines:

2009 Corolle Producteurs Plaimont Côtes du Condomois (tee hee... Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon 12%) - actually a pretty "winey" rosé (as opposed to a chemistry lab of estery substances like some of these nouveau "wines") with big colour and red fruity style; zingy gummy aromatic cherry blossom followed by lively crunchy fruit finish. €4.25 Nicolas shops and restaurants in France, various northern European countries and China. 80-85

A couple of other new-release 2009s, which are drinkable enough: Plaimont's Colombelle, a screamingly aromatic and zesty, off-dry white Côtes de Gascogne little number (€4 available almost world-wide apparently); and an IGP (the new vin de pays category) Gamay from the Ardèche region (southern Rhone/northern Provence) called Modestine, like Beaujolais nouveau but a tad fuller and without the rough edges (€3.20).

2008 Terrassous rosé Vignerons de Terrats Côtes du Roussillon (13%) - quite chunky vs creamy red fruit cocktail making this a good all-round foodie rosé style; rounded and oily with wild cherry fruit and refreshing dry finish. €4.50 87

2008 "Vieilles Vignes" rosé Arnaud de Villeneuve Côtes du Roussillon (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre 13%) - pretty red rosé, fairly full bodied rounded style with quite lush raspberry/strawberry fruit and "vinous" oily mouthfeel vs dry and crisp. €4+ 85

2005 Alsace Riesling Domaine Dopff (Dopff au Moulin, 12.5%) - lovely nose with floral white peach and developing linseed oil notes; delicate yet quite intense mouthfeel moving on to oilier texture and flavours, and finishing with subtle underlying mineral bite. Drink now although it's still fresh enough to keep for a couple of years or so. €6.50 87-89

2008 Pesque Lune rosé Vignerons de Correns, vin de pays d'Argens (organic, 13%) - closet dry Provence rosé style with delicate red fruits and roses, juicy palate with nice zingy citrus fruit blast and refreshing finish. Good value for €2.99. 82-84

Summer 2009

2008 Muscat sec Domaine de l'Arca vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (12.5%) - simple but well-done, attractive aromatic dry Muscat style with grapey citrus characters; yet also has nice zesty, floral and mineral / oily notes and texture giving it an almost Riesling like profile. €3.90 Casino. 80-85

These two reds were discovered at a Domaine Treloar wine club "themed" tasting:
2005 Minervois rouge Château de Puicheric - quite rich blackberry nose with spicy tones and a hint of toasty oak; well-made with a bit of character and nice fruit, weight and rounded tannins; turning more savoury with airing vs underlying liquorice 'sweetness'. Drink now although may improve for another year or two. €6.99 87+

2003 Minervois rouge Domaine Lignon - maturing smoky notes with tobacco and leather vs herby edges, fairly intricate mix turning more rustic and liquoricey; lush smooth mouthfeel with tasty savoury finish, quite punchy alcohol (although not over the top for a heat-wave 2003) but otherwise has concentrated lingering flavours and complex long finish. €11 89-91

2008 Bergerac rosé Château Riffaud (12.5%) - deliciously drinkable and refreshing style with plenty of ripe creamy red fruits and silky texture vs crisp acidity and zingy length. €3.50-€4 87
2005 Monbazillac Château Le Fagé (Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon Muscadelle 14%) - sumptuous, well-balanced, high-quality sweet wine with seductive dried apricot and spicy botrytis nose; luscious sweet oily palate with subtle oak adding background texture, complex lingering dried fruits and honey cut by lively orange peel acidity. Drinking now but will keep for 5-10 years probably. €4 a glass in Le Romarin (wine bar/café/restaurant), 2 Rue de la Clarté, Périgueux (Dordogne). 90+

Winter / spring 2009

2004 Faugères Château Haut Fabrègues (Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 13.5%) - smoky maturing nose showing 'sweet' black fruits & damsons with shades of leather, liquorice and baked wild herbs too; quite rustic and 'inky' but it's nicely thick-textured with dense fruit and quite dry yet softening tannins; attractive drinking now, probably at its best although not lacking in substance and raw character. €5.50 87+

2001 Corbières rouge Domaine de la Grange - complex and smoky with herbal dried fruits, roast beef and black olives too; quite concentrated and tasty with savoury leather notes, still slightly firm tannins v 'sweet' mature fruit, nice liquorice v meaty gravy finish. Drinking very nicely now although it's not going to die tomorrow. €6 Cave de St-Guilhem in Cabestany (nr. Perpignan), tasted Feb. 2009 at Domaine Treloar's Wine Club. 90+

2008 Côtes du Roussillon rosé Dom Brial / Cave de Baixas (Syrah Grenache 13%) - classic storming Roussillon rosé style, deep coloured with a light touch of tannin adding dry texture; 'winey' aromatic and crunchy red fruits with rose petal edges, juicy and zingy with chunky fruity mouth-feel and full dry finish. Nice foodie (e.g. hake fillet in Provencal sauce). €4.19 87+

2007 Chablis, Simonnet-Febvre (Chardonnay 12.5%) - you know how sometimes you really fancy a nice Chablis but are then disappointed having splashed out a little? Well, you won't be with this one. All the hallmarks which make that classic Chablis style so distinctive - attractive subtle balance of slightly exotic, buttery fruit v elusive greener, citrus mineral edges; elegant and tasty with fresh acidity lifting it up on the finish, making it good with smoked haddock even. €8 89
More Simonnet-Febvre wines to follow in the 'archive'.

Winter 2008

2007 Les Champs Bordelais Sauvignon Blanc, Guy Anderson Wines / Vignerons de Tutiac (12.5%) - quite intense gooseberry, blackcurrant and citrus aromas; lively crisp mouth-feel, fairly concentrated and oily textured v dry mineral bite. Nice mouthful of flavour, although coming back to it the next day, the fruit's just beginning to fade a little; so drink it up over Christmas & New Year (which shouldn't be too difficult, in moderation of course!). £5.99 Asda - on offer for £5 until 24th December. 87

2006 Cuvée des Hospices Catalans Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Guy Anderson Wines / Domaine Cazes (Carignan Grenache Syrah 14.5%) - attractive fragrant black cherry, cassis and blueberry with liquorice overtones and lightly earthy/peppery notes; punchy palate with lively juicy fruit v light bitter chocolate tannins adding a bit of grip, otherwise it's quite soft with a warming finish. Gets smoother and richer with 24 hours airing and less earthy / peppery. Nice with lamb steak or roasted Mediterranean vegetables; and even a chunky piece of fresh, pepper-crusted tuna. £8.99 Thresher - buy 2 get the 3rd free (= £5.99). 87-89

Autumn 2008

2007 Côtes du Roussillon blanc Mas Llaro / Maison Lafage (13%) - nice dry white with a bit of character and weight too: floral nutty notes v oilier texture, still quite fresh. €3.20 83-85

2007 Côtes du Roussillon rouge Domaine de la Chique / Hervé Bizeul & Associés (Grenache Carignan 13.5%) - countersigned by Mr. Clos des Fées himself, this is well-made and tasty with plenty of ripe black fruits with dark chocolate, fig and coffee undertones; fair weight and grip but nice fruity drinking at the same time. €4.95 87

2007 Collioure Tradition: Jacques Py, Domaine de la Marquise (14%) - spicy vibrant and floral black fruits with liquorice, light leather notes and dark chocolate edges; big powerful mouthful with nice depth and style, dry v ripe tannins / texture, 'sweet' v savoury touches; not so subtle perhaps but I like its immediate fruit and chunky structure. €6 89

2006 Wolfberger Riesling Alsace, Cave d'Eguisheim (a co-op partnership in fact, more info @ www.wolfberger.com) 12% - pretty typical delicate dry Riesling style: zesty and mineral v floral linseed oil and citrus notes; dry and crisp with attractive oily chalky texture. Bargain €3.99. 87

2005 Riesling Alsace Domaine Les Grès d'Or, Maurice Gaering (12.5%) - more complex and stylish with maturing linseed oil aromas and texture, elegant flowery tropical lime fruit with fresh intensity and length. Bargain €4.37. 89

Summer+ 2008

2007 Le Rosé de Terrassous Côtes du Roussillon, Les Vignerons de Terrats (13%) - fairly chunky red fruity style with nice food-demanding weight, turning rounded and slick with underlying wild red fruit and biscuit notes; still alive and well. €4 87

2007 Ressac Viognier Vin de Pays d'Oc, Cave de Florensac (12.5%) - attractively lively and aromatic still with lightly exotic apricot and citrus fruits; oily v juicy mouth-feel, a lighter style of Viognier with nice fruit; went well with a fish Jalfezi curry. €4.99. 85+

2005 Cuvée Prestige Bordeaux Supérieur, Château de La Ligne (Merlot Cabernets 12.5%) - attractive cassis and plum with light red pepper edged with smoky, chocolatey & cedary oak; quite dense and concentrated with dry textured tannins, medium weight, nice bite & length. Quite oaky at first but the wine has good depth of fruit and that oak lifts off a little with air, revealing some tangier fruit, coated tannins and underlying fresh acidity. After one day open, it gets fruitier and more interesting; a good match for boudin noir (black pudding)! €7 ex-cellar. 89

Spring - summer 2008

2007 Trémoine de Rasiguères rosé, Côtes du Roussillon (14%) - nearer red than rosé in colour, this has chunky aromatic & spicy raspberry/strawberry/cherry fruit with lovely oily texture, pretty potent alcohol yet fresh dry finish too. Serious quintessential Roussillon foodie rosé, it went well with two different restaurant duck dishes; also try with anchovies, grilled Med veggies etc. 87+

2005 Cahors Tradition, Château de Gaudou (80% Malbec plus Merlot & Tannat 13%) - a bit closed and stalky (although the cork smelt a bit dusty but the wine didn't seem corked?) to start, becoming more rustic/savoury with a bit of air and revealing plum red/blackcurrant and cherry fruit; subtle concentration and weight v firm yet textured tannins, fresh aromatic finish v chunky and dry with a touch of 'sweetness' v savoury soy sauce flavours too. €5.50 87-89
More Cahors wines below.

Winter 2007/08

2005 Les Serrottes, Vin de Pays d'Oc: La Grange de Quatre Sous (Hildegard Horat-Diop) - very appealing mix of cassis (I think there's some Cab in it?), black cherry, light liquorice and earthy smoky undertones; concentrated and lush palate v firm tannins and commanding mouth-feel (14.5%), tight but not rigid finish with nice coating of fruit v dry grip. Thanks to Isabelle Champart for giving me this bottle and thereby discovering this estate. 88-90

Summer/autumn 2007

2005 Caramany Sélection Vieilles Vignes, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, les Vignerons de Cassagnes-Bélesta (14.5%) - light coconut and cinnamon toasted notes v floral dark cherries and liquorice; powerful, firm and dry palate v lush fruit with dark chocolate twist. A little clumsy perhaps, but a good mouthful of wine for €5. 87

2006 Le Rosé de Terrassous, Côtes du Roussillon, les Vignerons de Terrats (13%) - lively raspberry fruit and full body v elegant, fresh and attractive style. €3-€4 87

2005 Cahors, Château de Grezels (Malbec Merlot 13%) - needed an hour's aeration to open up the aromas and firm tannins, otherwise shows nice mix of crunchy red/black fruits and lightly leafy intricacy. €4-€5 85

Tête de Cuvée Crémant de Limoux, Marquis de Dompey (AKA Divin'Aude, 12.5%) - inconsistency on the cork front - some bottles slightly musty - but when it's right, this is great value for €3.49 (good old Lidl): attractive creamy yeasty apple and pineapple flavours dissolve into its frothy, invigorating and off-dry whole. 87

2005 Sélection des Vignerons de Maury, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah Grenache Carignan 13%) - nice vibrant spicy perfumed black cherry and liquorice aromas lead on to a juicy smoky palate v solid dry grip; good balance between power and quite fine finish. Went down well with fillet steak. €3.50-€4 87-89

2004 Cuvée des Fontanilles Fitou, Domaine du Capitat (13%) - quite rustic and leathery but has nice fruit and grip underneath, then a more elegant finish than it first suggests. €4 83-85

2006 Côtes du Roussillon rosé, Cave des Vignerons de Lesquerde (Syrah Grenache Cinsault Carignan 13%) - pretty typical Roussillon rosé style with plenty of red fruits v zesty dry finish. €3.50 85

2006 Arnaud de Villeneuve vieilles vignes blanc, Côtes du Roussillon (Macabeu Grenache Blanc Malvoisie 13%) - surprisingly nice, dry white wine offering all the zingy freshness you'd want in one mouthful (although it loses its appeal slightly if served anything but cold); coupled with fairly weighty, oily texture. 83-85

April 2007

2006 Minervois blanc, Jean d'Alibert, Languedoc (Grenache Blanc Marsanne 13%, screwcap) - attractive mix of zesty citrus and honeyed roundness, zingy crisp and mineral v fatter texture too. Under €3 87

2002 Fronton rouge, Comte de Négret (Négrette 12%) - this is a rare local variety from the southwest; mature savoury fruit, soy & plum, sun-dried tomato v leather and tobacco, light dry grip. Good with rabbit stew. €3.50 87

March 2007

2006 Rasiguères rosé, Vignerons Catalans; Côtes du Roussillon (13.5%) - the latest vintage of this serious rosé doesn't disappoint: deep pink/light cherry colour, youthful fresh and lively with subtle rose petal and morello cherry tones; very zingy with crisp bite and tight length, citrus v red fruit weight v lively finish. Needs a couple of months to fill out. Try with prawn and spinach madras. €4.50 87-89

2005 Le Passé Authentique, Cave de Plaimont; Côte de St-Mont - this reliable producer in the southwest knows how to make interesting dry white wine from local varieties such as Petit and Gros Manseng: steely mineral & celeriac intensity v concentrated creamy depth of fruit, fresh bite and length v maturing complexity. €5 87-89

Feb 2007

1999 Margaux, Château Rauzan-Gassies, 2nd Cru Classé (12.5%) - smoky developing nose with complex leaf and tobacco notes; medium full with subtle concentration and not so firm tannins, quite elegant with more charm than some 99 Médoc (although Margaux was more successful this vintage, it appears). Opened by an old friend (thanks Andrew!), actually drinking quite well now and over the next couple of years or so. 90

January 2007

2005 Chablis, Domaine Côte Marjac (Chardonnay, 12.5%) - very drinkable, classic style Chabbers: nice aromatic white peach and citrus notes, fresh lively palate turning subtly creamy and full v tight mineral acidity. Looks like Brocard under a different name. €7 87-90

2002 Tradition Côtes du Roussillon, Château las Collas (13.5%) - attractive raisin and fig fruit edged with earthy maturing notes and tangier purple plum; quite concentrated and rich v extracted coating of dry tannins, good depth and balance for a 2002 (lesser vintage in the south), still grippy yet has plenty of ripeness and earthy developed fruit. Good with spicy Turkish sausages (beef and mustard). €6 87-90

November-December 2006

2004 Merlot, Vignobles de Carsac, vin de pays d'Oc (13.5%) - smoky plummy fruit set against light toasty notes, full and quite lush yet has attractive bitter twist too. 85+

2004 Riesling Steinweg, Jean Geiler - Cave d'Ingersheim, Alsace (12.5%) - elegant perfumed style with oily mineral backdrop, a touch of richness v celery notes and nice acidity. 87+

2005 Chinon, Domaine de la Semellerie (Cabernet Franc, 12.5%) - good example of this under-appreciated style from a ripe year in the Loire Valley: rounded yet crunchy blueberry fruit v intricate savoury flavours and subtle tannins/acidity. 87

2005 Saumur blanc, Les Besseries (Chenin Blanc) - zesty fresh melon fruit and mineral acid intensity, lovely roundness and ripe mouth-feel v crisp length. Under €4 89

2004 La Roque, Domaine la Pléiade, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah Grenache Carignan, 13.5%) - attractive black cherry and liquorice fruit with light leather and cedar, plummy and quite lush mouth-feel v dry firm finish. Bargain at €3: 87+

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2004 Gewurztraminer, Dopff au Moulin, Alsace (13%) - classy Gewurz, much zestier and drier than many; aromatic rose water notes lead to quite concentrated yet elegant flavours, nice length and style. Under €5 in Auchan, must be a mistake... 89

2000 Côtes du Roussillon, Domaine de l'Auris (mostly Syrah, 12.5%) - attractive traditional style with maturing, earthy leather notes and minty cassis; dried black cherry fruit turning savoury on a fairly elegant palate, light dry tannin on the finish. €4 85+

September-October 06

2004 Picpoul de Pinet, Mas Puech, Languedoc (12.5%) - delicious complex dry white, zesty v oily & concentrated with long mineral finish. 87+

2005 Dom Brial rosé, Côtes du Roussillon (Syrah Grenache, 13.5%) - textbook weightier Roussillon rosé with big fruit and texture yet fresh crisp finish. 87+

2004 Gewurztraminer Sélection, Cave de Turckheim, Alsace (13.5%) - intense classic Gewurz, exotic honey and spice with fragrant lychees; pretty concentrated, rich and oily v fresher off-dry finish. Nice with curry. €5.70 87

2005 Latour de France Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Domaine Bousquet (Syrah Carignan, 13.5%) - youthful purple with fresh floral black cherry fruit, up-front and attractive; juicy fruit & soft mouth-feel v light tannin texture, drinking well already but worth keeping for a year. Great value at €3.75: 87

2005 Caramany Côtes du Roussillon Villages, les Vignerons Catalans (Syrah Carignan Grenache, 13%) - deep purple ("smoke on the water...") black colour, very fruity with white pepper and earthy notes, very light oak backdrop; fairly rich and ripe black & red fruits, firm tight & elegant finish. 87+

2003 Cuvée des Presbytes, Caramany Côtes du Roussillon Villages; Vignerons de Cassagnes-Bélesta - lovely peppery pure blackberry/cherry fruit, quite rich and rounded with tobacco edges and dry grip; well-balanced attractive wine. €10 for half bottle in a restaurant: 87-89

2006 Primeur Catalan Syrah-Merlot, vin de pays d'Oc (13%) - pleasant enough, Beaujolais nouveau type - but with more oomph - fruity quaffer; not really my taste, I prefer the white below. 75-80

2006 Primeur Catalan Muscat-Viognier, vin de pays d'Oc (13%) - the latest funkily packaged release from those cunning Vignerons Catalans is very floral and zingy with nice grapey apricot notes, crisp and refreshing; drink it cold "juste comme ça," as the French might say... 83-85

2005 Chardonnay, Mas Sauvy, Vin de Pays d'Oc (13%) - expressive tasty Chardy with plenty of peach and pear fruit, lightly buttery then fresh and crisp. €5.50 87+

July-August 06

2005 Vin Gris du Maroc, Domaine de Sahari, Guerrouane AOC (13.5%) - attractive elegant juicy fruit, generous palate v crisp and dry, ripe & full v restrained style. 85-87

2005 Côtes de Saint-Mont blanc, Vignoble de Gascogne (Gros Manseng Petit Manseng Arrufiac Petit Courbu 13%) - refreshingly different dry white offering kiwis and gooseberries filled out by fatter creamy flavours, quite weighty then fresh mineral finish. €3 85-87

2005 Le Pot rosé, Dom Brial/Vignerons de Baixas, Vin de Pays d'Oc (Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon 12.5%) - the 05 is up to the usual standard: lots of raspberry and redcurrant fruit, quite weighty and concentrated finishing zesty and dry. €3.50 87

2005 Côtes du Rhône rosé, Château Plau (13%) - attractive creamy red fruits and spice style, fair mouthful with full dry food-demanding finish. 85-87

2005 Côtes du Rhône rosé, Château Joanny (Cinsault Grenache Mourvèdre 13%) - similar to above but a little finer and more intense. 87

2004 Saumur blanc, Les Besseries - very appealing style worth seeking out if you're bored of Chardy etc. Subtle mouth-coating honeyed fruit gives way to aromatic celery and white pepper minerality with dry-ish bite. 87

2001 Côtes du Roussillon rouge, Domaine du Mas Alart (13%) - complex maturing meaty tones layered on liquorice and red pepper fruit, soft and ready to drink with a little dry tannin left to finish. Approx €4.50 89

Fruité Salvat - bright funky easy-drinking range from Domaine Salvat in the Fenouillèdes region, Roussillon: 2005 red, white and rosé Vins de Pays, well made straightforward enjoyment wines. €2.70 80-85

2004 Chablis les Manants, Brocard (Chardonnay 12.5%) - exemplary style showing elegant ripeness and creaminess v restrained green fruit and mineral edges. €7 89

2005 Rosé de la Chevalière, Laroche, Vin de Pays d'Oc (12.5%) - sunny and fruity v fresher zingy tones, easy-drinking and good with simple food. 85

May-June 06

2005 Le Rosé de Terrassous, Cave de Terrats, Côtes du Roussillon (French Catalonia) - fresh aromatic roses and red fruits, tight elegant palate, zesty and dry. €3.82 Auchan 87+

2005 Chasse du Pape Syrah rosé, Gabriel Meffre, Vin de Pays d'Oc (12.5%) - attractive red-leaning style, medium weight v zingy very dry finish. £4.99 Asda & Sainsbury's (on offer at £3.99 from 21st June to 18th July at JS) 85+

2005 Côtes de Saint-Mont rosé, Vignoble de Gascogne (12.5%) - deliciously lively rosé from the southwest: fresh raspberry and redcurrant tanginess v lightly creamy rounded mouthfeel, then crisp and dry finish. €3 85-87

2005 Fronton rosé, Comte de Négret (Négrette, 12%) - also from the southwest (Négrette is rare local variety by the way), similar style to the above with deeper colour and fresher bite v nice fruit. €3-3.50 87

2005 Rasiguères rosé, Vignerons de Planèzes-Rasiguères, Côtes du Roussillon (13.5%) - serious and chunky, aromatic rich fruit with fresh acidity and touch of dry tannin, weighty and long; food rosé. €4.50 89

2005 Alsace Pinot Noir, Jean Biecher - perfumed raspberry fruit with a more savoury tangy palate, zesty and refreshing with light tannins. €3 Lidl 85+

2005 Coteaux Varois en Provence rosé, Château de l'Escarelle (12.5%) - just pink salmon colour, refreshing elegant style with zingy juicy fruit and nice intensity. 87

April 06

2003 Latour de France, Vignerons Catalans, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache & Syrah, 13%) - nice example of rich smoky liquorice Grenache with a bit of Syrah perfume and dry grip, quite powerful yet fairly soft too. €4.60 85-87

1991 Cuvée Fernand Vaquer red, Frédérique et Bernard Vaquer, Vin de Pays Catalan (Carignan Grenache 13%) - mature smoky nose with seductive fig and savoury notes, soft ripe fruit and tannins, still showing elegant concentration and signs of life; drinking nicely now but won't do it any harm by keeping for another 1-2 years even. €10-12 90+

2005 Minervois blanc, Jean d'Alibert, Languedoc (Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc & Roussanne, 12.5%) - attractive perfumed citrus and white peach aromas and flavours, zesty floral and crisp with lively finish. Screw capped (still rare in France), very good value. €2.50 85-87

February 06

2004 Fronton rosé , Château Marguerite, the southwest (Négrette & Syrah, 12.5%) - bags of sumptuous red fruits on nose and palate, good concentration and tighter crisper finish than you might first expect. €3 87

2004 Trémoine de Rasiguères rosé, Vignerons de Planèzes-Rasiguères, Côtes du Roussillon (13%) - redder than rosé with full bodied spiced strawberry fruit, shows a tad of dry grip too; a food rosé rather than a quaffer, try with sardines or anchovies. €5 85

2004 Muscat d'Alexandrie sec, Domaine Rossignol, Vin de Pays d'Oc (Muscat, 13%) - yet another exciting example (see below) of a dry, crisp and mineral Muscat; this one is quite concentrated too with good length, try with Thai food. €4 89

December 05 - January 06

2005 Blanc de Blancs de Terrassous, Vignerons de Terrats (Grenache Blanc Vermentino Macabeo 13%) - tight and steely at this stage, subtle zesty intensity v attractive oily nutty tones, crisp and dry. 88

2005 Muscat Sec, René Sahonet, Vin de Pays Côtes Catalanes (Muscat, 12.5%) - sound example of this crisp dry style that Roussillon growers are proving very good at; lots of fresh aromatic grapey Muscat fruit, also shows a bit of bite and bitter orange characters on the finish. €3.75 87

2005 Le Primeur Dry Muscat Sec, Dom Brial/Vignerons de Baixas, Vin de Pays d'Oc (Muscat, 13%) - located up the road up bit from the above, shows similar approach and intensity, perhaps a little more concentrated and classy. €4 88

2004 Le Pot rosé, Dom Brial/Vignerons de Baixas, Vin de Pays d'Oc (Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon) - attractive compote of raspberry and redcurrant fruit, quite weighty mouthfeel, finishing crisper and dry. €3.50 87

2003 Riesling cuvée prestige, Rebmann, Alsace (Riesling, 12%) - perfumed white peach and lime blossom, fairly soft palate with subtle mineral depth and off-dry finish. €5.40 87

2003 Chablis La Paulière, Jean Durup et Fils (Chardonnay, 12.5%) - classic style and class, offering elegantly rounded, buttery and creamy fruit tempered by fresh mineral bite and length. €8.50 90

2003 Chablis, Domaine Dauvissat (Chardonnay, 12.5%) - a touch leaner and less weighty than the above; however, still a nice example of what you'd expect from Chablis at a very good price. €4.99 85

2003 Vacqueyras 'Vicomte de Lignac', Caves du Fournalet, southern Rhône (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvèdre, 13.5%) - attractive warm, ripe and spicy black fruits and liquorice with background leathery, rustic touches; big yet restrained mouthful, dry rounded tannins. €5.25 87

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Domaine de Vézian, Vin de Pays Côtes Catalanes (Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5%) - pretty chunky and earthy blackcurrant/cherry fruit wrapped in quite firm tannins, perhaps a touch unripe in the end but still has some charm. €3-4 85

2004 'Les Vieilles Vignes' Côtes du Rhône, Cave de Sablet (Grenache & Syrah, 14%) - well made modern cooperative CdR i.e. pure, floral and spicy black cherry fruit, juicy palate with nice tannins and warmth to finish. 87

2004 Minervois blanc, Château d'Agel, Languedoc (Macabeu & Muscat, 13%) - a pleasant surprise, given that Minervois isn't famous for whites: fairly rich oily textured palate balanced by lively aromatic fruit. €3-4 88

2004 Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Mas Jaume (Carignan, Grenache & Syrah, 14%) - upfront chunky black cherry, raisin and wild herbs; quite big in the mouth yet ends up softer and rounded. €3-4 87

2004 'Fenouill' rosé, Domaine Salvat, Vin de Pays Côtes Catalanes (Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5%) - jammy ripe raspberry and strawberry fruit; juicy, rounded and dry finish. €3.50 85

Bordes rosé, Olivier & Roland Gessier, Vin de Pays Gascogne (12%) - easy drinking style with floral 'sweet' raspberry fruit then crisp tangy length. 80-85

SPAIN

Summer 2010

2009 Storks' Tower Tempranillo/Shiraz rosé vino de la tierra de Castilla y Léon (12.5%) - spirited tasty dryish rosé with lots of nice juicy raspberry and other red fruits, spicy and tangy with crisp vs creamy finish. £5 Tesco (UK). 83-85

Winter 2010

2009 Viña Extrísima rosado Bach Catalunya (Cabernet sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot 12.5%) - lively deep red colour and fruit profile, nicely combining that youthful "boiled sweets" thing (that's rosé winemaking for you) with creamier ripe raspberry flavours, fair bit of body too then crisp dry finish. Bargain at under €3! 85+

Castellblanch Brut Zero - Brut Nature Cava NV (11.5%) - intricate enticing nose showing subtle bready/oat-cakey and lightly roasted almond aromas; similar flavours on the palate with attractive oily nutty texture and very dry, crisp appley finish. Quite classy fizz for the money: €5! 87-89

Autumn 2009

Cava Brut Nature Mont Bató Castell de Vilarnau (11.5%) - ridiculously good for the price, this delicate and quite stylish sparkler has plenty of fine bubbles with enticing baked apple and yeasty biscuit aromas / flavours; nice toasty oaty coating and almost rounded texture vs crisp refreshing appley finish. Apparently it was disgorged on 29/6/09, although not very useful without knowing the date it started its second fermentation... Value! €3.99 Bon Preu own-label (Catalan supermarket). 87+

Winter 2008

Gran Familia Rioja, Rioja Alta, Guy Anderson Wines / Bodegas Castillo de Fuenmayor (Tempranillo Graciano 12.5%) - pretty oaky nose to start but it does have that silky mulled fruit Rioja style, with smoky cassis and raspberry notes; dry coating of tannins v spicy 'sweetness', quite attractive balance and style in the end (despite that initial, somewhat unsubtle oaky texture and flavour). £5.49 Tesco, Sainsbury's, Thresher, Co-op, Asda, Wine Cellar. 87

Autumn 2008

2007 Pampano Inspiración Verdejo, Agricola Castellana, Rueda (12.5%) - nice depth of aromatic citrus fruit bolstered by intricate yeast-lees undertones, oily honeyed texture v still quite fresh and lively finish. Value: €3. 87

Spring - Summer 2008

2007 Marfil rosat, Alella Vinicola (Garnacha Merlot Syrah Cabernet 13%) - attractively full and red-fruity style rosé with juicy oily texture and dry finish. €5 85+

2007 Cune 'Monopole' Rioja blanco (mostly Viura 12.5%) - aromatic floral and lightly peachy with subtle yeast-lees notes, quite full and rounded v very dry crisp finish; shows nice depth and style. On offer €4.55. 87+

2007 René Barbier Tradición Penedès rosado (Garnacha Tempranillo Carinena 12.5%) - the new vintage isn't a disappointment, in fact it's fuller and fruitier than before even with plenty of ripe red fruits then finishing with dry, lightly bitter twist. Under €3. 85

Winter collection 2007/2008

2003 Hacienda López de Haro, Rioja Crianza (Tempranillo Garnacha Graciano 13%) - aged in 50-50 American & French oak for 18 months. Pretty classic style creatively mixing light smoky-sweet oak with aromatic ripe red fruits, silky tannins on a fairly mature framework. Bargain at €3.60. 87-89

2002 Faustino Selección de Familia, Rioja Crianza – seductive perfumed vanilla tones with maturing fruit smokiness v good weight of raspberry fruit; concentrated and well-balanced between fruit/age/oak, quite chunky tannins and still lively acidity on the finish. €5.25 89-91

2006 Bach Viña Extrísima rosado, Catalunya (13%) - bags of delicious raspberry and strawberry fruit; rounded and creamy palate with fresh, dry and quite long finish. 87-89

2003 Jaume Serra Crianza, Penedés (Cabernet Merlot Tempranillo) – rustic and smoky nose leads on to quite rich depth of pruney cassis fruit; chunky tannins v maturing leather-tinged palate, powerful finish with a bitter twist. About €3 87

2006 Albert i Noya Clàssic rosat, Penedés (Pinot Noir Merlot 13%, organic) – pretty serious pink wine with chunky yet maturing red fruit and oily texture v a touch of dry tannin and still quite fresh acidity; definitely a food rosé. About €5 87

2007 Torres DeCasta rosado, Catalunya (Garnacha Carinena 13%) - established favourite shows no sign of slacking: delicious raspberry and strawberry fruit, creamy and quite full v intense and fresh. €3.75 87

Summer 2007

2003 Fontal Tempranillo Crianza, Bodegas Fontana, La Mancha (+ a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Merlot 13.5%) - attractive 'modern' style, showing rich vibrant black cherry/currant and raspberry fruit v chunky dry tannins, and the oak is more subtle than anticipated adding light coconut edges; extracted fruit and tannins on the finish v rounded maturing backdrop. €4.50 87

2006 Cuatro Rayas Verdejo, Agricola Castellana, Rueda (13%) - very lively nose and palate with fresh green fruit/veg v ripe oily citrus tones, crisp zesty and refreshing length. 87

La Guita Manzanilla, Rainera Perez Marin (15%) - delicious Fino style but crisper and lighter perhaps, yeasty almond aromas lead to a dry tangy complex palate. Lovely aperitif and with gazpacho or fish soup. 87+

2006 Sumarroca rosat, Penedés (Pinot Noir Tempranillo Syrah Merlot 12%) - tasty raspberry and cream aromas and flavours, quite full and silky with fresh finish. 87

2006 Miquel de March rosado, Mas Oliver SA, Navarra (12.5%) - similar to above, a little less refined and creamy. 85

2002 Ramón Roqueta Reserva, Catalunya (Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 13%) - attractive mix of smoky maturing savoury notes, background vanilla oak and 'sweet' berry/currant fruit; rounded and quite full with lightly dry tannins. €5 87+

Cresta Rosa, Vino de Aguja, Cadelamsa (a pseudonym for Castillo Perelada I think, 12%) - revitalizing quirky Catalan rosé, semi-sparkling thanks to a brief second fermentation; baked red fruit cocktail with fizzy off-dry finish. €3-€3.50 87

Blanc Pescador, Vino de Aguja (11.5%) - this easy-drinking dry-ish white is made in the same way as the Cresta Rosa above: a bit like less fizzy Cava (probably from the same varieties) with lightly yeasty apple and almond notes, sunny and refreshing. Nice with cod roe pâté. €3.20 85

2006 Gran Feudo rosado, Chivite, Navarra (Garnacha 13%) - perennial favourite rosado style, juicy and fat fruit v crisp and dry finish. €3-€3.50 87+

May 2007

Cava Rosado Brut Reserva, Jaume Serra, Catalonia (Pinot Noir Trepat 11.5%) - earthy meaty even with peppery undertones combine with roast almonds and squashed strawberries; rounded and ripe fruity with tangy rhubarb flavours too, fairly dry fresh finish. A bit strange but nice with it. €5 87

April 2007

2006 Castillo de Perelada blanc de blancs, Empordà (Macabeu Garnaxta blanca Chardonnay 13%) - the latest vintage from Perelada doesn't disappoint with its customary flair for freshness and crisp mineral intensity, yet subtle weight and concentration too. 87

Sept-Nov 2006

2005 Viña Extrísima rosado, Bach, Catalunya (13%) - yummy raspberry and strawberry fruit, ripe and creamy mouth-feel followed by fresh dry finish. 87+

2003 Rioja Gran Familia, Castillo de Fuenmayor/Guy Anderson Wines (Tempranillo Graciano, 12.5%) - nice enough Rioja style showing vanilla oak & raspberry fruit, lightly rustic notes with chunky tannins. UK: £4.99 Sainsbury's, £5.99 or 3 for 2 = £3.99 at Threshers. 85+

2005 Montesierra rosado, Bodegas Pirineos, Somontano (Tempranillo Garnacha, 13.5%) - big creamy rounded palate v complex light red pepper notes, rich red fruit cocktail v freshness, power and dry finish. 87-89

July-August 2006

2005 Riubal Blanc de Blancs, Penedés (Xarello Parellada Muscat 11.5%) - delicate lifted and light with zesty floral fruit, plenty of character and oily roundness despite relatively low alcohol. €2.50 85+

2005 Riubal Rosat, Penedés (Pinot Noir Tempranillo Syrah Merlot 12.5%) - delicious strawberry and raspberry flavours, vibrant yet gently creamy, fresh and dry finish. €2.50 85+

2005 René Barbier rosado, Penedés (Garnacha Tempranillo Cariñena 12%) - similar style to above, perhaps a little more of the ripe strawberry and a little less zingy, appealing nevertheless. €2.50 83-85

2005 Conde de Caralt rosado, Catalunya/Catalonia (Tempranillo Garnacha Cariñena 12%) - and ditto really, again very nice quaffer without the intensity of the Riubal. Less than €2.50 83-85

2005 Marqués de Alella white, Catalonia (Pansa Blanca 11.5%) - lovely white from this little region just down the road from Barcelona: fragrant yet quite concentrated with white peach and honeysuckle, zesty crisp bite on the finish. €5 87

May-June 06

2000 Navarra crianza, Señorio de Sarria - very appealing mature smooth style showing dried fruits, leather and light vanilla oak background. 87+

2005 Navarra rosado, Señorio de Sarria - classic elegant Navarra rosé offering creamy red fruits and refreshing dry finish. 85-87

2005 Gran Feudo rosado, Chivite, Navarra (Garnacha) - up to its usual classy standard, attractive subtle creamy raspberry fruit then crisp length. 87

April 06

2005 DeCasta rosado, Torres, Catalunya/Catalonia (Garnacha & Cariñena, 13.5%) - the latest vintage of this benchmark rosé is even better than usual; serious and weighty, bags of creamy red fruit charm yet fine, dry and fresh finish. €3.50 87-89

2000 Rioja crianza, Viña Berceo (12.5%) - appealing nearly mature style, less vanilla oaky than some Rioja with richer prune fruit, lightly gamey too with dry grip yet rounded finish. €5-6 87+

2005 rosado, Masia Perelada, Catalunya/Catalonia (Garnacha & Tempranillo, 12.5%) - baby sister or brother of below, showing similar attractive raspberry and redcurrant fruit but with less depth and intensity; light, stylish and refreshing. €2.50-3 85+

March 06

2005 rosado, Castillo de Perelada, Empordà-Costa Brava (Catalonia) (Garnacha, Cariñena & Tempranillo, 13%) - very youthful and a bit closed up at the moment, scented lightly creamy red fruits and roses lead to elegant zingy palate, crisp and long. €3-3.50 87-89

2004 Cune rosado, Rioja (Garnacha, 13%) - stylish rosé with soft creamy summer fruits and fresh delicate finish. €3.39 87

Castellblanch Cava Brut Zero Reserva (11.5%) - subtle quality fizz showing apple and biscuit characters, hazelnut oily texture and refreshing finish. 89

February 06

Cava Brut Nature, Cases Ribalta, Catalonia (Macabeu, Xarello & Parellada, 11.5%) - elegant fizz with quite intense almond biscuit flavours, lightly oily texture then fresher finish. €3.50 87

2000 Reserva, Viña Albali, Valdepeñas (Tempranillo, 13%) - the Albali gang are very good at these consistently smooth, smoky and dried-fruity reds with light tannins and a touch of sweet oak. €3 85-87

December 05 - January 06

Thalassa Vi d'Agulla rosat, Bach, Catalonia (Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.5%) - lovely creamy summer fruit pudding, vibrant and elegant, quite dry finish. 87

2004 Gran Feudo rosado, Chivite, Navarra (Garnacha, 12.5%) - shows off its usual elegant style, nice light creamy raspberry fruit leading to crisp subtle length. 87

Fino Quinta, Osborne, Jerez/Sherry (Palomino, 15%) - classic fino with yeasty, roast almond intensity; tangy, crisp and very dry with long, oily nut finish. €5-6 88

2001 Carta de Oro reserva, Berberana, Rioja (Tempranillo & Garnacha) - not the best Rioja in the world, but this smooth, maturing and sweet-textured red hits the spot at the price. €5 85

2004 Blanc de Blancs Seleccio, Riubal, Penedés (Macabeu, Xarello, Parellada & Muscat, 11.5%) - dry white that's a bit different and quite fine too, floral and grapey nose follows through to lightly oily texture then crisp and fresh bite. €3.50 87

2003 Mayor de Castilla roble, Viña Arnaiz, Ribera del Duero (13.5%) - Roble means oak by the way, and this attractively spicy red saw 3 months worth; nice ripe raspberry and blackberry fruit with sufficient grip and well handled layer of vanilla oak. €3.50 85

Extrisimo Brut Natural Cava, Bach, Catalonia - light and elegant with underlying oily, nutty and appley characters; fresh, fairly long and crisp finish. €3 85+

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