Wines from Lay & Wheeler’s January sale

Colchester based fine wine merchant Lay and Wheeler have an annual sale that is a little bit different, in that it happens in “real-time”. When the sale commences at 8.00 am on Monday 2nd January, 500 different wines will be put up for grabs at savings of up to 25% on their usual price. Lay and Wheeler sent me a half case of samples from the sale, which I have reviewed below.

Albert Mann (Alsace) Pinot Auxerrois Vieilles Vignes 1998
I recommended this in Oddbins at £6.95, so a very good buy here. Fairly neutral straw and light apple nose. Better fruit on the palate, with a herbaceous quality and then a good quality of sweet nectarine and tropical fruit, with hints of pineapple and lush guava sweetness, lychee and a dry, grapefruity finish. Very good. £5.95 (£7.45)

Lawson’s Dry Hills (New Zealand) Riesling 2000
Quintessential mineral and lime Riesling from Marlborough in New Zealand. Lawson’s Dry Hills is a fine producer, and this crisp, juicy, tantalisingly fresh wine has good quality on the nose, with clean, pure fruit and flower aromas. The palate is dry and well-balanced, with good length and ageing potential. Very good indeed. £5.95 (£7.50)

Alta Vista (Argentina) Chardonnay 2001
This Chardonnay is made in Argentina by a French winemaker, and in some ways does strike a middle ground between New- and Old-world styles. It has a light, pale straw colour and a very appealing nose of honeysuckle and butterscotch. On the palate there’s a little buttery roundness to the medium-bodied character, and finely-wrought apple and pear fruit. A little bit of creaminess adds weight to the finish, but this is a fairly restrained, elegant, food-friendly style of wine. Very good. £6.25 (£6.95)

Howard Park (Australia) “Mad Fish” Shiraz 1999
Deep, dense purple/black colour. Inviting nose suffused with vanilla, cherry and a deep, mulberry, plum and clove spiciness. On the palate it is quite brightly-styled, with plenty of zippy cherry and spice flavours, a note of Chinese dried-plums and a little hot kick of alcohol (14.5%). The wine is medium-bodied and approachable, with crisp tannins and a savoury, long finish. I found it a little volatile as in many fruit-driven Aussie Shiraz, but it will please fans of this punchy style. Good/very good. £5.95 (£7.95)

Dom. La Roquette (Rhône) Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1997
1997 was an average year for the southern Rhône, and totally over-shadowed by the excellent vintages which followed. But this is very much an up and coming estate, now under the same ownership as the famous domaine of Vieux-Télégraphe. They have produced an attractive wine, with a bright ruby colour, just lightening at the rim. The nose is redolent of cherries, with a silky background of vanilla and hints of herbs and spice. On the plate there is a dry, light, elegant fruitiness with kirsch cherry notes and plenty of cleansing acidity. For drinking now and over the next few years. Very good. £10.95 (£13.75)

Marchand-Grillot (Burgundy) Gevrey-Chambertin 1998
Lovely clear, bright, light cherry red colour. Attractive nose with lots of fresh raspberry and fragrant, floral character; just a little background of subtle oak. On the palate there is good balance with plenty of lively raspberry and cherry fruit, a sweetness of vanillin underpinning, and good balance of tannins and acids. Drinking nicely now and over the next few years, this is very well made and characterful village Gevrey at a modest price. Very good/very good indeed. £13.95 (£16.95)