(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.
(2020) Terret Blanc is a traditional variety of the Languedoc in the south of France, though largely forgotten throughout the 20th century and seeing a small renaissance currently. With its modest 12% alcohol this is a useful festive season wine, good with smoked salmon and other fish, or perhaps with soft rind cheeses. Delicate, lightly floral aromas sit atop peach and juicy ripe pear, then the palate has more easy drinking, stone fruit flavours, but edged with a fine line of grapefruity citrus to give definition. Deliciously drinkable.
(2020) Bottled exclusively for Waitrose in a very attractive 50cl format, Disznókő is a master of ensuring elegance and freshness, even in its sweetest wines - this is 5 Puttonyos, so will have at least 120g/l of residual sugar. A light gold in colour, the aromas are of apricot, honey and juicy mango or nectarine, vivacious and bright with a streak of lime, the more subtle creamy and barley sugar notes sit beneath. Apricot and a marmalade orange brightness and yet burnished depth on the palate, the acidity is exemplary in a delightful dessert wine for fruity tarts rather than Christmas pud, or for blue cheeses or indeed, to sip on its own at the end of a meal.
(2020) Part of a new range from de Bortoli, the name refers to the fact that part of the proceeds of sales of this 17 Trees range help fund a tree-planting programme aimed at rebuilding Australian bushland. I enjoyed this rather more than the Shiraz in the range, a nicely floral and peachy-fruit scented Pinot Grigio, with a juicy bite of crisp lemon and ripe, tropical melon on the palate. It's balanced and enjoyable, and a little bird tells me on sale with 25% off at the end of January 2021 if you want to take a note.
(2020) A really lovely, elegant Chardonnay from the Oak Knoll District of Napa California, part barrel-fermented and aged nine months in barrels, but only 13% new oak. Malolactic fermentation was more or less blocked (4% only went through malo) adding to the crispness of the wine. Lovely aromas of lightly buttery lemon and confit lime, a subtle biscuity warmth but all about zippy fruit and an overall quite steely presence. In the mouth the undoubted ripness of the fruit comes through, juicy pear and ripe Ogen melon, but that fine citrus core of acidity unwavering through the finish to give this poise and freshness. Stylish, reminiscent of a lightly-oaked Chablis style perhaps, and very good.