(2018) It's been several years since I tasted this 'Sec' Champagne from Taittinger, meaning it has more residual sugar that Brut wine, probably around double at 17.5g/l. That's rarely my favourite style of Champagne to be honest, but this wine proves what a good house Taittinger is, the hint of sweetness adding no more than a carressing, creamy softness on the finish. Such is the striking limey acid balance of the wine, its structural integrity due to that and a firm, firm core of fruit, that along with long ageing to add a savoury, bready body, it feels light and fresh until the last drop of the long finish. A lovely post-dinner pick-me-up or perhaps a match with the lightest desserts. On offer until 31st December 2018 in Tesco at just £25, that's a helluva bargain. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) How to judge a wine like this is an interesting conundrum: little is revealed about grape varieties or the exact provenance of the wine, except that it is made in Germany and goes through a post-fermentation process to remove the alcohol. How do the bubbles get there? Again there is no information but I could only guess by adding CO2 before bottling. It is lightly effervescent, and has a pleasant pear and citrus aroma, before a palate that clearly lacks complexity and texture, but which has a lightly grassy herbal character, some mid-palate peachy sweetness and a dry finish, a little sherbetty, and clean. I try to score wines on an absolute scale, not relative to price or style, and this is a good effort and a pleasant drink, and could be appealing to the Prosecco drinker looking to avoid alcohol, or as summer in the garden grown-up soft drink. Look out for deals - £3.30 in Asda at time of review.
(2017) Named after the 5600 guilders the original Dutch settler paid for the Nederburg estate, a purchase of this wine generates a small donation to the #DoYourPart charity providing bicycles to some of South Africa's most underprivileged citizens. It opens with good generic pear and apple fruit, a little touch of exotic lychee and passion fruit, in bright style. In the mouth it has a touch of sweetness, but it is vivacious and flavourful, nodding towards the tropical, with enough acidity to balance and make it slip down very easily. Watch the video for more information on this wine and the charity.
(2017) Getting a Pinot Noir on the shelves at under £6 is a rare thing these days, and Nederburg have done not a bad job with this cherry cola-like, light and easy-drinking version. Cherry pits and briar on the nose, a touch of twiggy character, then the palate of modest red fruits - raspberry edged - light earthiness and a sour lemon acidity. It's no great Pinot by world standards, and a bit abrupt, but it is quaffable.
(2017) Pinot Noir remains something of a holy grail for both wine lovers, and winemakers, the grape requiring specific growing conditions and a delicate hand from the winemaker to give of its best. While the top red wines of Burgundy represent the pinnacle of Pinot perfection, it's always nice to find a good example at a modest price that is widely available. From Marlborough, this wears cooler climate credentials with a birary, truffle and twig character on the nose, small, dry red berries like redcurrant and cherry, and a wisp of smoke. In the mouth it is delicate and light, those truffly characters matched by more of that pert cherry fruit, a line of tannin and more of that smokiness to balance nicely. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2017) From the long-established négociant house of Chanson, this is an impressive Chablis, showing much more of the flint and minerality one might hope for on the nose compared to some Chablis at this price, and with an intensity to the palate, the fruit showing even a hint of tropical ripeness, but all constrained and restrained by its acidity, sharp lemony focus and sweeping acidity. Rather a good wine this from head winemaker Jean-Pierre Confuron, and the purchase of Chanson by the Bollinger family seems to be stepping up quality impressively.
(2017) The label doesn't list the varieties for this distinctly off-dry to medium-sweet Loire pink, but it's 60% Cabernet Franc with 20% each of Gamay and Grolleau. Quite pale in colour, it has a sweetie, cherry lips and red liquorice nose, some floral aspects, and a plenty of sweetness on the palate. Fruity and simple, there is decent acidity, but it is verging on a dessert wine for my palate and perhaps best matched to strawberry shortcake or similar desserts.
(2016) This is only the second Tempranillo Blanco I have tasted (in this case blended with Viura). Tempranillo is a red wine grape, and this is not a blanc de noirs, a white wine made from a red wine grape, but a recently discovered white mutation of the red Tempranillo that has now been propagated to commercial qualities. It shares 97% of its DNA with its red sibling. Campo Viejo's rendition offers summery, fresh, crisp apple and pear aromas with a twist of lemon, before a palate filled with gentle citrus and modest acid structure, but enough to give it fresh if fruity and simple appeal. It's hardly the most profound of white Riojas, but it's fun to introduce this new variety.
(2016) From a single vineyard in Chile's Maipo Valley, this Syrah from Concha y Toro was aged in barrels for 14 months, a combination of small 'barriques' and large 5,000-litre casks. It has an expressive nose with a hint of meaty, sizzling bacon fat against dark, plummy fruit. On the palate it is full-bodied and dense with its 14.5% alcohol, but that meatiness and the dark bittersweet fruit and acidity is well-matched by the structure in a food-friendly wine that will also cellar for a couple of years. Watch the video for food-matching advice and more information. Note: on sale at £9 in Tesco from 24/05 - 13/06, 2016.
(2015) A screwcapped dry white this could be useful over the festive season give its moderate 10.5% alcohol and crisp, but easy-going palate. The leafy Sauvignon dominates this aromatically, though it is in fact a 50/50 blend. Nicely crunchy on the palate it has a delightful core of nectarine juiciness and whilst it is not too dry in its crowd-pleasing style, it does have really good fruit and a well-pitched acid punchiness. In 162 stores and online.