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23 July 2016

Italy: Sicily, Puglia, Veneto, Trentino

Here's an easy-to-find pick of Italian 'wines of the moment', including a red and white pair each from the far south and far north...

Grillo 2015 Terre Siciliane IGP - Sicily (13% abv): Grillo is a fab and fairly rare white grape variety; well-made tasty examples like this one are quite rich and rounded with aromatic peach and apricot fruit, lightly spicy and zesty on the finish too. £7.50 Marks & Spencer.
'Vigna la cupa' 2013 Salice Salentino DOC Riserva - Puglia (13.5% abv): Made from the local Negroamaro variety, meaning 'bitter black', this sunny red has a wild mix of very ripe cherries, dark chocolate, liquorice and more savoury, earthy, rustic and tobacco notes; quite full-on and firm palate vs nice sweet/savoury finish. £6.99 Lidl.

Pinot Grigio 2015 Trentino DOC, CaVit - Trentino-Alto Adige (12.5% abv) - This juicy fragrant and nutty white shows there's more to PG if you look beyond the big brand offers. Asda £6.
Amarone della Valpolicella 2012 DOCG, Monteforte d'Alpone - Veneto (14.5% abv): Special occasion red - or why not push the boat out with posh BBQ food - crafted from dried grapes (a classic local blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara) giving plenty of body and rich flavours. Asda £16 (sometimes on offer for a few quid less though).

10 July 2016

Chile: Syrah, Pinot Noir and other 'wines of the moment'

Misty Valle de Limarí from www.winesofchile.org

WHITE WINES

Casa Marín Lo Abarca Riesling 2015, San Antonio Valley (12.5% abv) - Delicate floral style with 'mineral' notes and subtle crisp white peach fruit. £10 Marks & Spencer.
Cono Sur Riesling Reserva Especial 2015, Bio Bio Valley (13.5% abv) - Oilier fuller style with more ripe lime vs zesty 'chalky' undertones, fair depth and class too. £9-£10 Tesco.
Caliterra Chardonnay Reserva 2015, Casablanca Valley (13.5% abv) - Tasty example of how to make a nice balanced style of Chardy, mixing juicy citrus fruit, yeasty/creamy notes and unobtrusive oak touches £7.29 WineMark.

PINOT NOIR

Secano Estate Rosé 2015, Leyda Valley (13% abv) - I had the previous vintage of this flavoursome rosé many times; and the new-in 2015, while not as full-on as its predecessor, is just as tasty in a more elegant way. £9.50 Marks & Spencer.
Secano Estate Maiten Vineyard Block 1 2014, Leyda Valley (14% abv) - Pretty classy Pinot with understated 'sweet/savoury' fruit, silky texture and well-integrated hints of oak. £13 Marks & Spencer, although I got it on offer making it much better value of course!
Morandé Reserva 2015, Casablanca Valley - Aromatic and silky with elegant cherry fruit, nice and fresh on the finish; good. Morandé is considered one of a small band of pioneers of Casablanca Pinot, hence the name of this second wine:
Morandé Pionero 2014 - More perfumed with lovely 'sweet/savoury' Pinot characters, elegant and fresh vs maturing and savoury to finish. Good too.

Darwin Vineyards 'Curis Valley' 2015, Curicó Valley - Nice and silky and soft with light cherry fruit, tasty elegant style Pinot.
Montgras Reserva 2015, Leyda Valley - More structured and fresher style with subtle oak hints, very nice silky Pinot Noir fruit on the palate though.
Errazuríz Estate Series 2014 - Tight and fresh mouth-feel to start, then revealing vibrant aromatic 'sweet/savoury' fruit, attractive style.
Errazuríz Aconcagua Costa 2014 - More structured and closed up, silky vs fresh palate, needs a bit more time to express itself?
Errazuríz Wild Ferment 2014, Casablanca Valley - Yeastier edges, aromatic cherry fruit as well with spicier and gutsier palate, although again still very Pinot in character with long intense finish.

SYRAH

I wrote this not-overly-complimentary piece about Syrah/Shiraz from Chile nearly five years ago; but things seem to have moved on in bucket-loads since then, proving the potential was definitely there, as there are now many very tasty examples lining the shelves. Interesting to note perhaps, for wine geeks at least, that all of the wines tipped below were labelled as Syrah not Shiraz, meaning winemakers in Chile have now defined their own style(s) of the world's most popular grape variety? Discuss in 200 words or less...

Tabalí Los Molles Reserva 2013 Limarí (14% abv) - Lush black cherry fruit, peppery and powerful yet has a fresher side too with sweet/savoury finish; and if there's any oak, it's not very obvious. £10 Marks & Spencer: on offer at £8 at the moment.
Raiz Gran Reserva 2013 Maule - Quite a lot of dark choc / spicy oak, but this has plenty of tasty black cherry fruit, nice rounded tannins with oomph and grip to finish, fairly concentrated too. Good Syrah style.
Indomita Gran Reserva 2015 Maipo - Oaky structured and concentrated although again has quite rich dark berry / cherry fruit; a little youthful and closed up but should be good.
Tirazis 2012 Casablanca - Herby peppery style with crunchy black cherry, pretty intense and firm still vs layers of tasty fruit; very different.
Cremaschi Furlotti Single Vineyard Maule 2014 - Again herby spicy black cherry fruit vs firm and dry, pretty intense finish, needs a few more months to round out.
Errazuríz Aconcagua Costa 2014 - Delicious white pepper and black cherry nose, concentrated yet elegant balanced palate; highly recommended Syrah.

OTHER REDS

Santa Rita Estates 'Lot 8' Carmenère 2012, Colchagua Valley (14% abv) - Chunky and concentrated, touches of vanilla/coconut oak layered with tasty sweet/sour fruit flavours. €13.99 Lidl Ireland / £60 case of 6 UK.
Errázuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Aconcagua Valley (14% abv) - 2011 was the last vintage I tried of this pretty serious Cabernet - click here to read about it - and this Erráz 2013 amply keeps up their standards for structured age-worthy yet also drinking well enough now Cab. £12.99 WineMark.

03 July 2016

Posh Chardonnay: California, South Africa, Australia

Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2014, California (13.5% abv) - This classy wholesome Chardy is "a winemaker’s blend of mountain, ridge, hillside and benchland (a long narrow valley without a river apparently) hand select grapes grown along California’s cool coastal appellations." (The Banke-Jackson family owns vineyards in Santa Barbara, Monterey, Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties in fact). Each 'lot' is then fermented separately and barrel-aged. Enticing mix of buttery oatmeal aromas and flavours, and not too toasty with it, and sunny citrus/peach fruit, nice full mouth-feel yet reasonably subtle and fresh. Quite dear, although on a level with good white Burgundy especially if you're splashing out for you-know-what day tomorrow: £15.95 Slurp.co.uk.

Grier Family Villiera Brut Natural Chardonnay 2010 'Methode Cap Classique'; Stellenbosch, South Africa (12% abv) - This stylish Champagne-esque fizz was treated to no less than 34 months yeast-lees ageing in the bottle and unusually has no added sugar (unlike typical so-called 'Brut' styles) or sulphur dioxide. Still surprisingly youthful at first with frothy, fresh and structured palate; then revealing delicate 'brioche', oatcake and roast hazelnut flavours vs crisp and dry finish. Marks & Spencer £12.

Robert Oatley Vineyards '6285' Chardonnay 2014; Margaret River, Western Australia (13% abv) - Tasty example of that little extra touch of style you can find in Western Oz, this showed a deft mix of ripe juicy fruit, creamy texture and subtle oak spice in the background. Marks & Spencer: again fairly dear at £13 (I bought it on offer though) but you should be reasonably impressed.