(2018) What a lovely wine from the estate of the legendary Steven Spurrier and his wife in Dorset. 80% Pinot Noir with 20% Chardonnay, it’s a deeply coloured pink fizz that overflows with creamy strawberry aromas, a nice touch of something gravelly and more serious in the background, but all about open and invitingly deep red fruits really. In the mouth a lovely rolling mousse, and that full fruit expression of summer berries and peaches is briskly moved along with finely-etched acidity and more of that minerals and gravel-stone firmness. Delightful. On offer at £27.95 at time of review.
(2018) The Chardonnay was very special in this year, and this 100% Chardonnay cuvée is utterly convincing proof that the best English sparkling wines can stand confidently in line with the best. It has a lovely golden hue, with toffee and nutty notes over bruised pear and apple fruit and some leafy, herbal tones giving real complexity and richness. The palate pushes through with immense precision, the cool, zesty and pithy lemon rind quality and seashell mineral richness gives this lovely balance and focused length. That minerality is so pronounced from these chalky soils of the South Downs.
(2018) This is another winning wine from Matt and Sophie Parker-Thomson. Large French oak barrels, new and used, where employed to vinify this wine, but it wears any hint of oak very lightly indeed, focusing instead on vibrant, essential-oil fruitiness and crispness. Orange, lemon rind and pepper dominate the nose, and yes, a subtle sheen of creamy oak, but the palate is bright and ram-jam packed with flavour, the lime and mandarin orange clarity of the acidity in the finish is just lovely. On offer at £14.95 at time of review, it really is a top-notch expression of Grüner.
(2018) Matt Thomson is one of New Zealand’s most respected consultant winemakers, behind numerous top labels, and now he and his wife Sophie Parker-Thomson have established Blank Canvas, a premium label sourcing fruit from top vineyards, like this single-vineyard Chardonnay, fermented with wild yeast and aged in large French oak barrels, around 40% of which were new. It’s so appealing, with a flinty mineral edge to cool orchard and lime fruit, given creamy intensity from the barrels. In the mouth there’s an unabashed ripeness of fruit, edging from succulent ripe pear and apple into more tropical nectarine notes, buttery Brazil nut creaminess beneath, and zipping-fresh lemon and salts acidity. A serious, top-end example of Kiwi Chardonnay. On offer at time of review for £22.90.
(2018) In Côte-Rôtie, one of the most famous appellations of the Rhône Valley, it is very common for winemaker to blend just a touch of the fragrant white wine grape, Viognier, with Syrah, and Matt Thomson has performed the same trick here with Grüner-Veltliner, to add a little aromatic lift. The result is another firm, really rather European-style from Blank Canvas, pepper, liquorice and black cherry aromatics with a touch of cedarwood too. On the palate this has plenty of grip and edge – it’s a brisk, fairly lean and muscular style, the fruit is very good in a dry, savoury, pepper-edged style that cries out for some winter venison, roasts or slow-braised beef dishes. On offer at time of review at £21.95.
(2018) What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious. On offer at £23.95 at time of review.
(2018) A robust and chunky Shiraz from the vineyards of Willunga winery in McLaren Vale, just outside Adelaide. A proportion was aged in French oak and that gives a nice touch of cedar and smokiness on the nose, but it's more about bold, confident black fruit and a wisp of freshly-cracked pepper. In the mouth there's a big, rumbling layer of tannin on which sits some of that pleasing oak-toast quality and good fruit, sweet and ripe but with a savoury edge. It's the sort of straightforward, big-hearted red that makes a good burger or barbecue go down rather nicely.
(2018) The previous vintage of this wine from Kathy and Gary Jordan made Wine of the Week, but this 2017 is irresistable and possibly even better. A pitch-perfect wine, not shy about its creamy, nutty and vanillin-licked barrel fermentation, and rippling with ripe, tropical-edged fruit, but such elegance and balance, touched by flinty, complex sulphide notes then shimmering with lively acidity and a long, intense lime-like finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) One of the less expensive wines in my premium Prosecco taste-off, and one of my favourites - that was for its sheer zing and zip, with all the Prosecco hallmarks of delicate floral notes and lemon-sherbet freshness and clarity, but with such a surge of flavour and intensity of fruit on the mid-palate, sweetly ripe, yet this is distinctly Brut with 8g/l of residual sugar and a dry, really tangy finish. This is labelled as coming from the slopes of the San Pietro di Barbozza area, and the winery producers various cuvées, like this, from specific terroirs of Prosecco.
(2018) From the traditional rosé stronghold of Tavel, very close to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is a deeply-coloured and quite serious pink made from Grenache and Syrah that’s so unlike the in-vogue pale Provençal style, yet is quite marvellous: crammed with cherry and ripe red berries, there’s a creaminess to the flavour and texture and the little nip of tannin and focused acidity give it structure and length too. Excellent with an Italian fennel sausage casserole perhaps? On offer at time of review for £11.75.