(2019) The vineyards for Petit Chablis are scattered around the periphery of the main Chablis appellation, mostly close to the treeline at the top of the famous slopes, and rarely on the Kimmeridgian soils that are synonymous with the flinty, oyster shell quality of 1er and Grand Cru wines. But do not look down your nose at the best examples, still made with care from 100% Chardonnay and usually, as in this case, unoaked. It's a very smart wine made by M&S winemaker Sue Daniels, marrying very fresh, lightly grassy and boldly lemony aromas with a fuller, riper fruit character on the palate, a creamy texture and hints of mango and exotic fruit soon licked into shape by the citrus and, yes, slightly salty, acidity. Watch the video for more information and food matching suggestions.
(2019) Though I strenuously avoid 'tall poppy syndrom' - taking a swipe at a best-selling wine, just because it is best-selling - there is still a tendency to overlook big selling brands and wines that appear to be consistent vintage after vintage, in favour of always seeking something new. Villa Maria are synoymous with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and produce a number of different cuvées, so they do tend to the ubiquitous: it's rare to visit a major retailer and not see at least one of their wines on the shelves - and often at a promotional price. So how to honestly assess this vintage of the Cellar Selection SB? It's really very good: more in the tropical and ripe spectrum than out-and-out herbaceous, yet there is enough elderflower and pea-shoot character to pin-point its roots precisely. In the mouth the sweet, ripe fruit sits atop grapefruity acidity that is tangy and juicy, the wine has a bit of texture and mouthfeel too giving a sense of richness, and it is intense and vibrant. A model Marlborough Sauvignon, with style. £10.99 as part of a mixed six at Majestic. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) An aptly named blend of mostly Syrah with Mourvèdre, Grenache and – surprise surprise – Tannat, the great grape of Madiran that’s rarely seen in a ‘GSM’ blend. Very appealing on the nose, with white pepper indeed, spice and a soulful depth of berry fruit. In the mouth a generous, rich and smooth wine, overflowing with dark fruits, sweet and ripe tannins, a discreet acidity and plenty of creamy and ripe flavours to make it wildly crowd-friendly – and a banker for this summer’s barbies. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2019) The latest vintage of Seven Springs Pinot, which until the 2012 vintage was labelled as 'young vines', but now with more years under their belts that epithet is dropped. It pours a lovely pale- to medium garnet colour, and has a soft, briary character on the nose, a little curl of woodsmole and small red berry fruit. In the mouth there's plenty of edge to this, with firm tannins and a keen raspberry acidity, the medium-weight fruit and touch of background oak giving some mid-palate flesh. A fine, food-friendly Pinot from Seven Springs.
(2019) Always one of my favourites in the Seven Springs portfolio, 2014 has given an extra oomph of ripeness and chocolatey berry ripeness to this wine, lots of clove spice and menthol, an almost Porty-ripe character, and a lovely depth of black fruits. In the mouth it is powerful and mouth-filling, very firm and quite steely in terms of the acidity and tannin axis, the barrel ageing adding some smokiness and spice, and the fleshiness of the fruit nicely licked into shape by the structure. Another very good Syrah in a run of good Syrahs.
(2019) A perennial favourite of mine in the Seven Springs range, this feather-light 12.5% alcohol Chardonnay is both delicate and intense, the acidity drives this in a Chablis-like way, stripped down and fresh and yet not without a hint of creaminess, a hint of more tropical mango fruit in there somewhere. A brisk, yet gentle and aromatic Chardonnay.
(2019) The 2015 edition of Seveb Springs lightly-oaked Chardonnay is a really good one I must say, nutty and gently toasty notes atop generous tropical fruit, but there's a hint of a steelier character of cooler orchard fruits too. In the mouth it is expansive and ripe, but far from over-blown, the juiciness of the acidity and a salty lick of minerality off-setting the creamy depth of fruit.
(2019) Its fame on the island of Santorini has perhaps spurred on many modern Greek producers to grow Assyrtiko, undoubtedly a - if not the - star white wine grape of Greece. From vineyards at an altitude of 700 meters and poor, sandy soils, this is typically crisp and zesty and is unoaked. It doesn't have the ozoney seaside freshness of some of the Santorini wines, but instead a yellow plum and lime freshness, lees ageing adding to the texture to give it quite a full and grippy presence, the finish bone-dry and hinting at river stones and saltiness.
(2019) A white wine, blended from 80% Roditis and 20% Malagousia, this is a highly aromatic wine, a subtle spritz on openining seeming to release a waft of jasmine and honeysuckle, over mango and more crisp, apple and citrus fruit notes. Unoaked, the palate zings with that delicate but substantial flavour profile, very zesty, a touch of Mandarin orange to the acidity keeps it dry and fresh, but very approachable. An aperitif style for sure, but could be lovely with thai or spicy szechuan dishes.
(2019) Blending 50% Merlot with equal parts Xinomavro and Syrah, this is a robust and characterful red, very deep in colour and mixing a cherry and briar, herbal quality with rounded berry fruit. That sweet fruit of the nose translates to the palate too, backed by a little chocolate bittersweetness, perhaps a touch of olive, and a grippy rusticity to the tannins that, along with nicely pert acidity, freshness the finish nicely.