(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.
(2016) From quality-conscious négociant Albert Bichot, this is aged in oak, 20% of which is new. It does have toast and a rich oatmeal and almond creaminess, and a ripe, sweet apple fruit that's very appealing. Then a hint of minerals, of slightly flinty character adds lots of interest. On the palate, very racy, the taut acidity driving the wine, layered with creamy nuttiness and bright citrus and crisp apple fruit. Fine white Burgundy.
(2016) Huge perfume here, lots of smoky bacon and floral lift comnbining to give aromatic fireworks. Lovely palate with black fruits and some sweet smoky oak, but it is the gaminess and earthiness that comes through in a very northern Rhone style. Price quoted is for the 2012 vintage
(2016) Around 10% oak fermented, from the 1er Cru of Vaillons, with a broader hint of toast and butter on the nose, nutty and more open. There’s still a hint of that flinty mineral reduction, but layered into the wine. The palate has a touch more spangle-bright fruitiness than the les Lys, seems like a touch more extract or lees, but the lemons and salt acidity keeps it very fresh again.
(2015) From one of the Douro Valley's great estates and a fine producer of the LBV style, where the wines are given long aging in barrel so they are approachable immediately on release. This is infused with chocolate and dark fudge-like aromas, but on top sit all sorts of lifted, kirsch and floral nuances, lovely ethereal glimpses of all sorts of exoticism. In the mouth it is sweet, solid and chocolate-rich, with excellent acidity and tannin balance for drinking now or cellaring. Around £20 - £24, Ocado, Oddbins and see all stockists on wine-searcher.com. Note that Berry Bros sell a similar 2009 LBV made for them by Noval at £16.99
(2013) Made by Apostolos Thymiopoulos in the central Greek mainland, this is a blend of the native Malagouzia (70%) and Roditis (30%) that weighs in with a featherweight 12% alcohol. It seems to me that it could well be Greece's white wines that are its aces in the pack - especially those from the islands, but also wines like this. It is a powerfully aromatic, floral and ripe pear-scented wine that has some delicately herbal and exotic aspects that remind me of Torrontés and Gewürztraminer. It bursts with fruit and flavour on the palate, a piercing note of green-streaked acidity bracing the wine, and leading to a crisp, clean and elegant finish with a hint of sweetness in the background.
(2013) Made for Oddbins by Chablis ace winemaker Samuel Billaud, and bottled under then name of his eldest son, Jules. The colour is a youthful green, and the wine has a modest 12.5% alcohol. Aromas are ultra pure and fresh, with a crisp, sappy green edge to crunchy apple fruit and a burgeoning sense of more tropical, more exotic sweet fruit aroma. On the palate it is ultra fresh too, though there is a certain textural roundness to this, that sweetness of the fruit quite full, but it is the core of steely acidity that drives on, leaving the finish lip-smacking, dry and moreish. Crying out for fish and shellfish.
(2013) Greece's Agiorgitiko (or St George) grape is one of its hero red varieties, and this wine from Nemea in the Peloponnese peninsula is fresh and relatively light with only 12.5% alcohol. It has a bold cherry/purple colour and attractive aromas that are at once cherry-bright and fruity, and gently earthy and sappy, not a million miles from a quality Beaujolais. A little cedar and spice suggests some ageing in older barrels perhaps. On the palate it does seem a touch lean, a touch underpowered, but that spicy cherry fruit and that green-tinged, olive character gives some real pleasure.
(2013) I've recently awarded the little brother of this wine, The Joven, my Wine of the Week with a full video review. Made from Tempranillo and aged 13 months in French oak, this dramatically dark, saturated wine has such a glossy pool of deep black fruit that you could dive right in. There's a sheen of oak, a touch of roasted chestnut and a little hint of chocolate too. In the mouth it is a big, substantial wine, with 14% alcohol and a broad texture, it fills the mouth with savoury black fruits that are juicy and tangy, blueberry and damson as well as cassis. The spice and suppleness of the tannins is a joy, the acidity fresh and appetising, in a long, structured wine that must surely have significant cellaring potential too.