January 2015’s Wines of the Month

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Tom Cannavan picks four of the best wines tasted last month, in four different price bands.

under a fiver

picpoul Asda, Picpoul de Pinet 2013, France
Well. I never thought for one minute that I would still be able to find a genuinely recommendable wine at under five pounds in 2015. But here we have a perfectly sound – indeed good – example of a Picpoul de Pinet, one of the hottest white wines of the last few years. A little like a Muscadet in character only with more juicy fruit, there is that ozoney, sea-spray touch to this that is pleasing against the ripe, rounded orchard fruits. The palate is full-flavoured but fresh as a daisy in a balanced and very useful white house-wine contender. 86/100. £4.98, Asda.

under a tenner

La La Land, Malbec 2013, Australia
La La Malbec has proved such a success for Argentina that it is no wonder other countries are cashing in on the success. This, from Murray Darling in Victoria is certainly worth its £8.99 offer price (£3 off). I thought it was a graceful and elegant expression of the variety. Matured in French oak for 10 months and with only 13.5% alcohol it captures the fragrance and floral, violet tones of the Malbec beautifully, along with the plush black and blue fruit core. Blanced on the palate, but ripe and full, it has masses of crowd-pleasing fruit and chocolate density, finishing with smooth and supple tannins. A flattering commercial style compared to a great Cahors, but delicious and enjoyable. 88/100. £8.99 of offer, Majestic.

under twenty

Domäne Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 2013, Austria
Wachau At a recent tasting I really enjoyed Domaine Wachau’s cheaper Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2013, but this from the top ‘Smaragd’ level of alcohol and ripeness was much more intense, limey and I found it very Riesling-like in a way. It displayed more ripeness quite obviously, though it was arguably less vivacious and herbaceous than the Federspiel, but the palate confirmed that serious intensity with massive concentration of flavour, substance and a long, mineral-taut finish. 93/100. £14.95 is the cheapest price I can see at time of writing, from Edinburgh merchant Fine Wine Co. who do have online ordering. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

sky’s the limit

Tenuta di Biserno, Biserno 2010, Italy
biserno The top wine from Lodovico Antinori’s estate in the Maremma coastal region of Tuscany, Biserno is a big, bold and beautiful Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It has 14.5% alcohol and around 50% of the final blend is aged in French oak barriques. Deeply creamy, it has such a lovely blood and game, tar and leather character amongst the deep-set black fruit. Superbly long, full and structured on the palate there is a core of ripe but gripping tannin, but also an elegant cherry lift of acidity as well as its enveloping weight of fruit. 94/100. £138.40, Hedonism Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher