Champagne, Germany, Italy and Bordeaux – modestly priced wines


Champagne Elizabeth Avril – £12.99
From the extremely high quality small house of Goutorbe, this has a nice golden colour and fresh, yet yeasty nose with lots of crisp, mouthwatering fruit. On the palate the mousse is quite rich and very persistent, and a biscuity breadth counteract citrussy, fresh fruit and a little nettly bite. Decent length. This is a very nice, aperitif style Champagne.

Champagne Pol Roger ‘White Foil’ – £18.39
This is a terribly easy recommendation as Pol Roger’s ‘white foil’ non-vintage Champagne is, along with Veuve-Clicquot’s ‘yellow label’, benchmark stuff for me. The fact that ChateauOnline have it for £18 is a bonus, as it’s around £23 on the high street, but with the £10 voucher you can pick up a bottle for silly money! Beautifully clean but yeasty nose of baked apple pie. Pillowy, soft, rolling mousse. Fine acidity sharpens a set of toasty, warm flavours of baked apples and lighter, citrus and subtle tropical fruit.


Feudo die Fiori VDT Blanco 1998 – £5.49 down to £4.94
The price is reduced as this is a bin-end. This is a new wave Vino da Tavola from Sicily that’s an interesting blend of Grecanico and Chardonnay. Pale gold in colour, with hints of green, it has an aromatically intense nose with notes of straw, almond, pear and citrus, with a little vanillin background, presumably from some time in barrel. On the palate it is freshly styled, with good citrussy fruit and ripe peach undertones, then rounded-out by spice and creaminess in the finish.

I Portali Greco ‘Basilium’ 2000 – £4.49
xFrom Basilicata in southern Italy, this is 100% Greco, one of my favourite white wine grapes of the deep south. The colour is pale gold, and the nose is lovely, with bags of citrus fruit and little sweet floral and spice notes, some confectionery and waxiness. On the palate filled with fat, almost oily lemon fruit that is chewy and dense, yet wonderfully fresh. Balanced, it is elegant and fine into a long finish, whilst staying driven by fruit.

Robert Weil (Germany, Rheingau) Riesling Halbtrocken 1998 – £7.89
Weil is widely regarded as the finest producer of the Rheingau and is something of a specialist in dry (trocken) and off-dry (halbtrocken) Rieslings. This has a very mineral nose, with fine sherbety scents and a spritzy, almost effervescent quality. The palate has crisp lemon fruit and more succulent peachy flavours, medium body and a long, clean and classy finish. With only 11% alcohol, this would be perfect for summer drinking but has the class to improve over 5 to 8 years. Good price too.

Giovanni Dri Colli Orientali del Friuli Ramandolo 1999 – £8.49
This highly unusual wine is made from the Verduzzo grape, and though ChateauOnline describe it as ‘Medium’, I would definitely classify it as a dessert wine. The maker is Giovanni Dri, and he is clearly and experimental and skilful winemaker. The Colli Orientali is the top region of Friuli for this grape, and Ramandolo the home of sweet styles, made from late harvest and/or raisined grapes. This has a delightfully honeyed nose, quite intense, with lemon cream aromas and a figgy richness. On the palate it is full and sweet, with raisin-flavoured fruit, melon, luscious apricot and good acidity. Quite long, this would be delightful with fresh fruit desserts and should also cellar well for a few years.


Chateau Serigeau Bordeaux 1999 – £3.99
Leafy, earthy, soft red fruits on the nose with a little sweet, minty ripeness suggesting cassis. The palate is pleasing, with cherry and redcurrant fruit, a nice tobacco-tinged softness, little tannin but good acidity. So much cheap Bordeaux is, frankly, rubbish, that it’s fantastic to find a really solid, honest, decent example of a good wine at this price. Only 12% alcohol too. CrownCap Red 1998 – £4.29
This is the strikingly packaged red wine that was my ‘Wine of the Week’ recently. A classic blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes from Puglia in Italy’s deep south, it has an expressive nose of juicy unoaked summer berry fruit, dusted with spice and enlivened on the palate by a juicy edge of acidity. There’s a little rum-soaked raisin darkness, but this is fruity, warming, lip-smacking wine for sipping on its own or with chargrilled vegetables, pasta or braised lamb. Vigna Alta ‘Basilium’ Merlot/Cabernet 1999 – £4.99
This is lovely stuff, with a rich, dark ruby colour and spice-box nose with dark, chocolaty plum and tobacco notes. On the palate it is ripe and jammily fruited, but not lightweight, with lots of deep, sweet fruit and a cedar and tobacco savouriness. Very good.

Monregard la Croix (Pomerol) 1998 – £15.49
xThis is the second wine of the fine Pomerol estate of Clos du Clocher. 1998 is a truly great ‘right bank’ year, and the concentration in this wine is immediately obvious. Dense, bright ruby colour and a nose suffused with spicy, charry notes, but a mellow depth of berry and dark, plummy fruit, earthiness and a fragrant, almost floral nuance. The palate is gripped by tight tannins and a slightly stalky bitterness, but a coffee-bean richness and sweet mid-palate of ripe blackcurrant is fleshy and quite classy. The finish is dominated by tough tannins at present. Needs food now, but should be better in five years.