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18 August 2016

White grape varieties 'of the moment'

Updated 03.09.16 - see two wines added at the bottom (Oz Viognier and Chile Chardy)...

Workhorse Chenin Blanc 2015 Stellenbosch South Africa (13.5% abv): Made by Chenin maestro Ken Forrester for Marks & Spencer, this dry white shows a bit of class and character with honeyed melon vs yeasty tones, fairly rich yet has fresh finish too. £8.50

Mineralstein Riesling 2014 Gerd Stepp, Pfalz Germany (12% abv): Delicious and complex dry Riesling from a former M&S winemaker blended by them, this delivers very good quality for the money balancing elegance and quince/lime fruit. £10

Fiano 2015 Cantine Settesoli, Sicily (13.5%): Bargain zesty yet full-bodied Mediterranean white with double the flavour of most Pinot Grigio at £5. Tesco 'Finest'

From vignobles-lesgourgues.com
Château Loumelat Bordeaux 2015 Sauvignon blanc (12.5% abv): This estate, found in the Côtes de Blaye zone on the right side of the Gironde estuary directly north of Bordeaux city, apparently dates back to before the Revolution (cut off their heads then). Attractive example of good French Sauvignon with herbal grapefruit aromas and flavours, yeasty lively and refreshing but not too acidic; actually gets a little rounder and more interesting after being open for a day (in the fridge naturally). Very nice with king prawn, leek and Gruyère risotto. €16 Mitchell and Son Dublin; Castelnau Wine Agencies London.

Le Soleil Nantais 2015 Guilbaud Frères, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 'sur lie' France (12% abv): It's been almost a year to the day (go for it) that I tried the 2014 of Guilbaud's standard-bearing Muscadet, as well as a couple of amazing older vintages (the brothers obviously really care about this once very popular although all too often lacklustre dry white). The 2015 is perhaps a little softer and less racy, although still with characteristic 'chalky' / 'salty' tang coupled with gala melon and subtle yeasty tones. €6.52 cellar door. UK: Portal, Dingwall & Norris aka Ivy Wines £10.56.

Pazo Torrequintans Albariño 2015 Rías Baixas Spain (12.5% abv): Aromatic honeysuckle and quince fruit with nice yeasty bite, dry crisp and 'chalky' texture with a smidge of enticing oily character too. Tesco £7

Zilzie Viognier 2016 Australia (14.5% abv) - Attractive mix of zesty and lively vs exotic and full-on; unusual to find a Viognier at this price that actually has some character and flavour! £4.85 Asda.

Santa Rita '120' Chardonnay 2015 Chile (13.5% abv) - Very nice unoaked Chardy style considering this must be made in vast quantities: ripe and peachy with a bit of oomph yet zesty too. Widely available e.g. €8 Tesco Ireland.

07 August 2016

Australia: 2005 vintage Semillon vs Shiraz

According to well-known Aus wine writer and critic James Halliday's site winecompanion.com.au, 2005 was a very good vintage for both white wines in the Hunter Valley and red wines in McLaren. Rare too to find 10+ year-old Australian wines beyond the winery's own museum stock, so it's good to see that it's possible for us to get a taste of what 'proper' Aus wine can be like over here as well.

McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2005 Hunter Valley (12% abv) - I've bought this wine for tastings a few times now and it certainly always gets a strong reaction, good or bad! Distinctly quirky, unoaked bottled-aged Aus classic style dry white, with strangely toasty oily notes (considering there's no wood involved in the winemaking) and rich nutty flavours, underlined by surprisingly fresh acidity / elegant 'greener' fruit tones. Winemark £10.29; Tesco used to list it too so you might still find the odd bottle lurking around. You can't buy good ten year-old white Burgundy for a tenner!

Songlines Shiraz 2005 McLaren Vale (14.5% abv) - Sourced from 'selected 40 to 110 year-old vines with low yields, hand pruned and picked.' Dense purple/black/brown colour shading, seductive old Northern Rhone style nose mixing white pepper and wild mint with sweet dark fruit and liquorice with savoury leather notes; still punchy on the palate with concentrated lush mouth-feel, meat gravy vs chocolate truffle and sweet plum flavours (!), a little tannin still and overall luscious texture. Delicious mature red although at its peak I'd say; not very 'Aus', in the popular perception, but that was probably the idea. Exel Wines: £22 on offer.