(2023) A new wine from the respected house of Cartuxa, this is an unoaked blend of typical Alentejo varieties Aragonez (Tempranillo), Trincadeira and the red-fleshed Alicante Bouschet, along with Syrah. The wine is a medium to dark and quite vivid crimson. The nose is really attractive: vinous, so fresh and grapey but plummy too, more of a red fruit character than black, with a nice floral lift. Super sweet and ripe, creamy and mouth-coating as it hits the palate, the tannins are very fine and soft so this is a real pizza or barbecue glugger, but the pert acidity and touch of peppery spice does enough to also keep it fresh. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Extra Brut, so less than 6g/l of residual sugar, this bone dry and very elegant Prosecco has delicate jasmine and confit lemon aromas, a certain hint of saline character too. The palate is crisp and light, a little crunchy Redcastle and plenty more citrus, into a very nicely balanced, dry finish.
(2021) Pedro Ximénez, or 'PX' grapes are used to make this style: the darkest, stickiest, sweetest and richest of Sherries. The fully-ripe grapes are dried to increase their concentration, which results in a wine that pours mahogany brown, with raisin, chocolate and dried Chinese plum spiciness on the nose, and an engine-oil thick texture in the mouth. Flooded with sweet, plump dried fruits, a lovely edge of coffee and walnut, and just the right zesty orange and lemon acidity, balances the finish. At £12.95 for a full 75cl bottle this is a bargain, for sipping after dinner or matching to rich chocolate or Christmassy-style puddings. Watch the video for more infortmation and food-matching ideas.
(2020) This is a Manzanilla 'Pasada', so a slightly darker, older style of wine and a little nuttier than a typical Manzanilla. This is also 'en Rama', so bottled unfiltered, basically straight from the cask. It has a light- to medium gold colour and arresting nose of chamomile, shellac, walnut and bruised apple fruit. There's a liniment-like pungency. On the palate it is dry, but richly-textured, with walnut and nutty Cox's pippin fruit, a hint of orange too, and a delicious saline and citrus finish. This would be a terrific festive aperitif with olives or nuts perhaps.
(2020) The Chilean outpost of Spain's Miguel Torres began life over 40 years ago, making a range of affordable, quality wines. This Sauvignon Blanc hits that spot: dry, with only around 1g/l of residual sugar, it is ripe and bursting with herbaceous, elderflower and gooseberry aroma, a pungent style beloved by many. On the palate plenty of texture and tropical fruit, passion fruit and lychee, a bit of Ogen melon character too, and a balanced finish with decent acidity.
(2019) On a visit to Vergelegen earlier this year I was really impressed by their wines, so it's nice to feature this moderately-priced red from their range. One hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it spent 17 months in barrels from top French coopers, 40% new. Bottled in October 2014, even with an additional half decade of ageing it retains a tightly-wound, serious structure, the deep black fruit bound by firm, gripping tannins and decisive acidity. It's a savoury wine, to be enjoyed now and best decanted for a couple of hours, or indeed cellared for a decade more, but it delivers a rich, concentrated mouthful of bold plummy fruit, with cedar, liquorice and spice adding to the chewy density and gastronomic appeal. Watch the video for more information and note the price is a special offer - other retailers are around £17 - £20 for this wine.
(2019) The always-reliable Torres produces this fragrant and fruity, dry rosé that's always an easy-quaffing delight. Made from Grenache, it is pale and fresh with a floral, blossom touch to confectionery and citrus fruitiness. In the mouth there is a hint of sweetness, but it is otherwise dry in the finish, balanced, with good zipping acidity against that lightly peachy and orchard fruit. What's not to like here?
(2019) This has 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot in the blend, matured 17 months in Nevers oak, 65% new. Cool on the nose, but coffee and roasted herbs, a meatiness too, not fruit-led, but there is good black fruit in the mix. The palate has a firm, structured palate, savoury and a bit reserved, but that gives energy and a bit of tannic bite and firmness.
(2019) From two vineyards, the wine on which they made their reputation before the Rubicon cuvée came along. Cedar and sandalwood fragrance, a touch of herbal, olive and leafy herb note, but the clean, firm blackcurrant fruit is lovely. Savoury and juicy, there’s a bit of tart plum skins and liquorice. Dark and dramatic, but the fruit does become quite plush before the acid and taut, polished but grippy tannins push through. Drinking really nicely, and has good light and shade.
(2019) Ripe, but cut by a lanolin and touch of green that slices through the creaminess. Big powerful wine, immense concentration, such orange and lemon juiciness and layered texture, but the buttery weight and texture is a delight. Price and stockist at time of review is for the previous vintage.