(2021) This lightly fortified sweet Muscat, much in the style of a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise for example, comes from the Torres family of Spain. It's a delightful wine, overflowing with aroma and flavour, the colour a burnished gold. On the nose, honeycomb, saffron and sweet confit fruit, florals and lemon all in the mix. Thick and unctuous on the palate, there is masses of honeyed flavour and intense golden sultana sweetness, but the alcohol and the acidity give a bit of backbone and welcome freshness. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2021) A pale peachy-pink, the main advantage Torres wine has over some of the other Spanish attempts at this style are the grapes used: Carignan and Grenache, two of the mainstays of Provence wines too. Very light, very commercially appealing raspberry and rose-hip aromas, a little bit watercolour paintbox, then a palate that has some sweetness and possibly a touch of residual sugar, but plenty of lemony acidity keeps that in check. It is light-bodied and arguably a touch dilute even for a rosé, but flavours and balance are good.
(2021) A Crémant, so made by the traditional method with second fermentation in individual bottles, this is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc and is made by the cooperative at Saumur on the Loire. Eighteen months on the lees has given a creaminess and almond sheen to the aromas, then the palate delivers plenty of bright apple and pear fruit, a fair bit of perceived sweetness but balanced by a lemon juice squeeze of acidity. Finish with a nice touch of biscuity richness, though the finish is modest. Inexpensive for a Crémant, and decent value for money.
(2021) From the excellent 2019 vintage, and again from the Gravels, 18% of this was whole-bunch fermented with indigenous yeasts, and it spent 14 months in barriques of French oak, 25% new. Very vibrant in colour, there's a cool, schist and gravel aspect to the nose, over taut red fruit, a sheen of oak. On the palate the wine opens, still with that taut, gravel and graphite cool, but the cherry and red plum fruit is both bright and deep, supported by some understated oak, into a long, poised finish. Impressive young wine. Price and stockist is for the 2018 vintage at time of review.
(2021) This Brut sparkling wine from Graham Beck is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 80% from their home vineyards in Robertson, the rest from coastal vineyards of the Western Cape. There are few more experienced producers of MCC that Graham Beck, and this is lean, linear and lovely. There's a suggestion of bread and biscuit after 18 months on the lees and with around 10% of reserve wines in the blend, but pin-sharp lemon and rosy red apple aromas. On the palate, this has a great zesty length of lemony-fresh fruit, a salty and nutty aspect adding some layering into the finish. Dosage is 9g/l, but with no malolactic it is one of crispest, most refreshing wines in this line-up. Watch the video for more information. On offer at £10 in Waitrose until April 6th 2021, and in Majestic and other retailers too.
(2020) A fine example of the 'new' Australian Chardonnay, though in truth there's nothing new about the story of the country's Chardonnays having changed style from the golden 'oak bombs' of the 1990s. From the Eden Valley, home to so much excellent Riesling, this is barrel fermented with wild yeasts, and spent six months in fine-grained French oak. A pale green-straw in colour, the nose is pretty and cool, with just a little almond sheen of richness, hinting at creaminess, before a palate of zippy pear and apple, much more citrus driving through the core of this, the finish clean and well-tempered, with a clarity to the balanced acid and fruit finish.
(2020) Calvet is one brand of a group called 'Les Grands Chais de France', whom I visited a few years ago, discovering what a true giant of the French wine industry it is, owning numerous estates and brands from across the country. I also discovered that quality is excellent overall, including this Sauvignon from Menetou-Salon, a fine appellation that adjoins Sancerre. Lemon and lightly nettley aromas lead on to firm stone fruit and some delicate white flower touches. In the mouth it is tectured and quite weighty, with plenty of citrus and slightly fatter/riper yellow plum and peach, the acidity sheer and well-balanced into a long, fresh finish.
(2020) The 17 trees brand has partnered with not-for-profit organisation, Trillion Trees, to help rebuild the Australian bushland lost during the 2019-2020 bushfire season. Evert six bottles of 17 TREES sold will go towards planting one tree in Australia. Unfortunately I wasn't really taken by this wine, the nose rather stalky and green, the palate nicely fruited, but with a slightly harsh and astringent finish. I hope I am not being too harsh on this, but de Bortoli normally produces such highly drinkable wines from its Yarra Valley base, but this just didn't float my boat.
(2020) The new category of pink Prosecco launched a month ago and is already a smash hit. Wines must be vintage dated, and must use Pinot Noir alongside Glera in the blend. This is a very nice example, the mousse frothy and light, the fruit strawberryish and with a certain creamy bob-bon quality, then the palate is basically dry, but there's a strawberry sherbet tang, icing sugar and lemons running into the finish. Note it's down to £8.99 until 3rd January 2021 in Waitrose, and £9.99 on a 'mixed six' in Majestic.
(2020) From one of the 'Crus' of the Languedoc region and limestone soils, this is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape-like blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah, aged 12 months in barrel. There's real depth and spice-touched glossy black fruit on the nose, meaty yet at the same time touched with floral and garrigue perfume. Sweet, svelte black fruit coats the palate too, with chocolate-rich tannins and black cherry acidity, some smokiness and peppery spice, in a really lovely wine.