(2019) A Manzanilla, made from the Palomino grape grown in Jerez, and aged in a solera system in the humid conditions around Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Tasted from a white wine glass, this pale yellow, 15% alcohol Sherry does have the distinctive iodine tang of briny sea air, as well as dry nut husk and apple notes. On the palate it is intense and oh so dry, but it is rich, again it is nuttiness that floods the palate here, with that fresh and vital salty acidity giving great length. Pound for pound in terms of world wine quality, these Sherries remain such a bargain. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas. Price and stockists below for half bottles. Full bottles in Waitrose and others, at around £11.00.
(2018) This large nêgociant and estate owner makes some very good Burgundy wines, including Chablis under the Albert Bichot and Long-Depaquit labels. Cool, clean, clear and restrained, the aromas here are of lightly creamy apple and citrus, not a lot of Chablis flint in evidence. On the palate it is elegant and understated stuff, a fine, intelligent Chardonnay, but not singing of Chablis terroir.
(2017) The island of Pantelleria lies in the southern Med, between Sicily and the Tunisian coast, and lightly-fortified sweet wines like this are a speciality. Made from Zibibbo (Muscat), part dried on mats before fermentation, it has a golden hue and attractive nose that is both floral and lightly honeyed, with tea and tobacco notes. In the mouth it is much lighter than the Port wines tasted alongside, and the burnished orange and apricot character of the fruit is offset by very good acidity and only a gentle hint of the spirit adding a little warmth.
(2017) The words 'Viñedo Centenario' on the label tell you that this blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Malbec comes from vineyards planted over 100 years ago in Chile's Colchagua Valley. There's a beautifully light touch to this wine, both in colour and aroma, which along with the modest alcohol indicates a gently and carefully made wine that respects these ancient vines. There is black fruit - cherry and blackcurrant - but also a little herbal and briar note, spice and pepper, and some of Malbec's floral lift. In the mouth there's a lovely balance of savoury and sweet, with a sour cherry tang to the acidity, gentle but very tannins and the finish showing fruit and savoury spices. Watch the video for more details.
(2017) Vinedos Emiliana is one of South America's most passionate advocates of organic and biodynamic viticulture, and this certified organic Carmenere is an excellent introduction to their range. Only 20% of the blend was aged in French oak barrels for six months, allowing the lifted, violet and white pepper character of this aromatic red to shine, the palate smooth and glossy, with black fruits touched by chocolate and a gentle, cherry juice acidity, the softening creaminess of the barrels filling out the low tannin, quaffable finish. Eminently juicy and approachable, but with savoury credentials as a food wine too. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas. Note too that supplier Oddbins will be pouring their wines at my London and Edinburgh Festivals of Wine.
(2017) From granite soils rich in large crystals, vines are 50 years old on average, and this was vinified traditionally (not using carbonic maceration). Beautiful ripeness is evident, and a liquorice intensity, though it begins to reveal a tiny floral lift on the nose. Weight and delicious persistence on the palate, with a sweet black cherry fruit and tartness of cherry skins, and that firm youthful finish. Price and stockist at time of review are for the 2014 vintage.
(2017) Morgon, a village where all of the appellation's vines are situated, has slate soils that are rich in maganese. Once again the vines are quoted as being 50 years old, and the wine is vinified traditionally. Delicious aromas, lots going on and with an intense slick blackness and in the mouth, firm at the core, with plum and cherry skins. Taut stuff, glossy and ripe with such glossy character to the finish and again feeling as if it will age. Price and stockist quoted at time of review are for the 2014 vintage.
(2017) The New World's makers of Viognier have got it right, after early renditions of this Rhône grape variety were almost inevitably too alcohol and so ripe as to be blowsy and lacking in acid. This is a fine example of when Chile gets the variety right, grown organically and fresh with scents of wild flowers, juicy peach and lemon peel. In the mouth there is abundant fruit sweetness, a free-slowing peach juice clarity, but there's fine acidity to balance, a lick of salt and squeeze of lemon, giving a crisp, moreish finish.
(2017) Crémant, France's other sparkling wines, are gaining in popularity and it is not hard to see why with an example like this all-Chardonnay, traditional method wine from Burgundy. The nose has delicate apple pie notes of pastry and creamy ripe pear and apple, a touch of citrus but real richness. The mousse is soft and rolling, adding to the expansive and easy-drinking quality of the sweet, ripe fruit, but the acidity is there giving this elegance and really good balance into a long, poised finish. For the price of entry-level own-brand supermarket Champagnes this delivers most impressively on quality.