(2020) A particularly pungent Bacchus this, from Hush Heath's Kent vineyards, a piercing, high-toned herbaceous character dominating the aroma. Vivid, grassy and zinging with citrus and elderflower, the palate has a sour lemony bite, a featherweight texture (with only 11% alcohol) and it is dry with green herbs and citrus streaking through the finish. It's not a wine I could drink a lot of perhaps, almost like a fairly extreme Marlborough Sauvignon in its vivacious character, but character it is has. Watch the video for more information.
(2020) From a cold, wet year before the drought started, but long hang time allowed full ripening. Grapes are de-stemmed but not crushed, so around 20% whole berries. Long cool ferment. There's a fine Cabernet expression here, with a touch of olive and background herbaceous character, but much more minty black fruit and a touch of violet perfume comes through. The palate is medium-bodied and super juicy, lots of zip and freshness, plus there's a gamy, ripe nuance to the black berries. There's a smoothing, chocolaty quality to the oak and to the tannin profile, giving this creamy and supple qualities too. A lovely style. £15.99 as part of a mixed six.
(2020) This spends eight months in Louis Latour barrels, partly from Meursault, mostly two and three years old. Gorgeous crushed oatmeal and flint nose, a touch of vanilla toast and honey, and very fresh pear and apple fruit. The palate has limpid, pure and quite plush fruit and juiciness, but that fine stony, flinty character adds a lovely edge, the acid lemony and fresh, but with that saline touch that is so mouth-watering and fresh. There is density to the fruit, and concentration, but great finesses and freshness. £15.99 as part of a mixed six.
(2020) I was lucky enough to visit this new operation just before lockdown, led by the hugely experienced Steve Smith MW, ex-Craggy Range and Villa Maria, along with his US business partner. A very premium Sauvignon Blanc from 25-year-old vines in the Wairau sub-region of Marlborough, it's a wonderfully expressive, aromatic and decidedly opulent take on the NZ Sauvignon formula. The nose is flooded with ripe, juicy peach as well as the distinctive but subtle top notes of grass and elderflower, not too green, but vivacious. On the palate there is lovely texture here, real concentration sometimes missing in lesser examples, and that all-encompassing ripeness of peach, mango and exotic lychee, but all the time balanced by its sheer acidity into a long finish. A terrific Sauvignon Blanc. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) From a small, biodynamically-run family vineyard in Marlborough, this is a blend of fruit from two vineyards that was destemmed and sorted, then fermented in small, open tanks. The wine was in barrel for 11 months, all French oak and 30% new. Beautiful colour, pale-ish garnet with a hint of violet. Fragrant, bright nose, though there is some chocolate and coffee, it's mostly floral and red-fruited a little bracken note too. There's a keen, decisive edge of acidity on the palate, a lemony grip that slices through the raspberries and cream. Quite crisp in the finish, lingering on fruit and accurate acidity. Made from Able and Clone 5 clones. Importer: Les Caves de Pyrene.
(2020) From the prime Bannockburn region of Central Otago, Valli again uses a variety of Pinot clones in its mix, this wine having loads of tobacco and spices on the nose, something like charcuterie, but a fine dark fruit edged with bay leaf, curry leaf and olive, helped by being whole-bunch fermented. Imported by New Generation Wines.
(2020) Viognier wines made outside of its Rhône homeland often used to disappoint me, but more and more examples are capturing the vivid fruit character of the grape and its full texture, but with excellent freshness and elegance, including this excellent example. From close to Carcassonne, this is aged for a few months on its lees which adds to the texture and hint of yeasty complexity on the nose, but really it is all about surging peach and very ripe pear fruit, just a little floral nuance too. In the mouth it has weight and a limpid, creamy texture, that intense fruit concentration with a little hint of spice, but then fine and lightly saline acidity streaks through to freshn and balance this 13.5% abv wine. A fine expression and only £7.99 as part of a mixed six from Majestic. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) Margaret River in Western Australia is synonymous with high quality Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends for its white wines, and it is rare to see one for less than £12 or so from this premium, ocean-influenced region. This is a 2020 vintage, harvested just a few months ago, so obviously not a wine that has seen extended and expensive barrel ageing, but in fact I thought it was lovely, the cut and vivacious, zesty punch of the Sauvignon showing a touch of oily green bean weight on the palate, with very good fruit and a fine, slicing citrus core of acidity. Really rather delicious summer drinking with just 12.5% alcohol, and dry in the finish.
(2020) Central Otago has emerged as New Zealand's premier Pinot Noir region, with high quality producers and suitably premium pricing. Having toured there just before lockdown I still can't give clues to the actual producer of this wine (Outlook Bay is a Lidl brand, not a specific producer) but at £9.99 it's as cheap as Otago Pinot gets. Nicely pale and transluscent in colour, there's a huge perfume of truffle and beetroot, all those vegetal Pinot aromatics, smokiness and a hint of something floral or like wild herbs. In the mouth sweet and juicy fruit, with a nicely rustic nip of tannin and plenty of spiciness, sweet mid-palate fruit giving way to a peppery, spicy clove finish. The 14.5% alcohol adds a touch of heat, but it's a nice and authentic Otago Pinot.
(2020) Mourvèdre labelled as coming from the coastal region of South African viticulture, which covers many well-known wine regions, though the Lidl website says Stellenbosch specifically. At £5.99 what do you expect? Well in this case a delicious gluggable spicy and fruity red, dark bramble and pepper aromas leading on to a smooth palate with plum and ripe blackberry fruit, not a lot of tannin to speak of, but enough grip to give it some savoury and barbecue-friendly appeal for sure.