Alsace, Burgundy, Provence and more


Boland (South Africa) Altus Chardonnay 1997 £5.97
Pale gold colour. Sweet, butterscotchy nose, quite a lot of smoky oak, but packed with tropical fruit and a little lift of lemon zest. On the palate juicy and uncomplicated fruit, quite creamy with a buttering of leesy, nutty roundness and vanillin oak and a pleasant, lightly spicy finish. Aged in French barriques, but not too oaky this drinks really well.

Ch. Fon de Sergay Cuvée Bois Bordeaux 1998 £7.57
This pale to medium gold wine is the white partner to the special cuvée red from this producer, recommended last week. Aged in new oak barrels, the colour is pale gold and the nose is suffused with creamy, vannilin oak which is toasty and coffee-bean rich, with ripe peachy fruit beneath. The palate is powerful, with the oak dominant at present, but a very nice quality of peach and tangerine fruit: very tropical in style and ripe, with good acidity and medium body. This has extremely classy components and I imagine it would age very successfully over five to eight years as a mini Graves.

Trimbach Alsace Riesling 1998 £8.98
This has really attractive apple fruit on the nose, though also quite perfumed and flowery. Beautifully crisp lemony palate; really juicy and mouthwatering with lots of grapefruit acidity and terrific length and balance. Very good, and a candidate for 10 years cellaring.

Domaines Ott Blanc de Côte Clos Mireille1996 £11.15
Pale straw/gold colour. Subdued, complex nose with notes of straw, herbs and meadow-flowers, nuts and gentle apricot fruit with a subtle oak background. On the palate this wine has power and an intriguing set of flavours, with a waxiness and herbal quality, ripe pear fruit and lots of spice. Richly-textured and long, this is classy and cool, nicely mature and is a lovely, unusual wine (a blend of Sémillon and Ugni Blanc).

Saint-Peray Les Bialières Vins de Vienne 1999 £11.97
Saint-Peray is a Rhône appellation making full, weighty, powerful Marsanne and Roussanne-based white wines. This comes from the ‘Vins de Vienne’, which is actually a little co-op formed by three top producers in the area, Yves Cuilleron, François Villard and Pierre Gaillard. This deep golden-coloured wine is loaded with peachy fruit on nose and palate, quite toasty and buttery, it is full-bodied and rich, with good length and a cool, classy finish showing moderate acidity. A modest 12.5% gives this balance, though maybe it could do with a little more oomph. Good though.


Imperial (Greece) Mavrodaphne of Patras £5.80
Crazy low price for a full bottle of this powerful, sweet, rich Port-like wine. There’s plenty of black, dark chocolaty sweetness, full body and some nice violet-scented aromatics. Quite long, extended barrel-aging has mellowed the finish and at 15%, not too alcoholic. This is good stuff at the price.

Iroulèguy Dom Les Terrasses de L’Arradoy 1998 £6.63
Nice medium ruby colour, quite bright. The nose has a lovely quality of fruit; plenty of dense, concentrated red berries and blackcurrant, quite creamy and sweet. On the palate there is lovely cherry and redcurrant fruit, and a really firm edge like bitter plum or cherry skins (from the Tannat grapes which are part of the blend). There are some tannins and fresh acidity. A very nice and distinctive wine from the Basque country, that would cellar for a few years.

Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Clos Pressoir 1999 £6.82
Very nice Pinot Noir from one of my favourite appellations, due west of Sancerre. This is quite steely and reserved in style, with solid, fine, black fruit aromas and flavours, a moderately tannic palate and crisp acidity. Far removed from the really jammy style of much New World Pinot Noir, it is savoury and quite serious.

Château Fon de Sergay ‘Cuvée RG’ 1998 £7.57
Classy, fruit-packed Bordeaux Supérieur with an expensive oak aged character. It must have significant Merlot in the blend, as once past coffee-ground, charry oak on the nose the aromas are deep and plummy, though still with vibrant blackcurrant too. Big, dry tannins on the palate almost overpower the moderate fruit, but it’s a delicious, characterful claret for drinking now. Very good.

Hugel Alsace Pinot Noir 1997 £8.41
Lots of nice, earthy, briary soft undergrowyh quality and strawberry fruit. Beautifully soft and silky palate, very mellow and fruity.

Mount Benson Shiraz Chapoutier 1998 £14.11
A wine I’ve wanted to try for some time, made by Rhône superstar Michel Chapoutier in southwest Australia. Solid, deep, but not not dense ruby colour. Beautifully aromatic nose, redolent of sweet summer berries, pepper, a little firm streak of liquorice or blueberry, and a sheen of creamy oak. On the palate lots of smoky, earthy berry fruit, a deeper seam of tight, focused raspberry and some oaky spice showing into the finish. Tannins are tight and ripe, and this has fine length. Excellent, with lots of Old World finesse. It’s a nice touch that Chapoutier put two labels on the bottle; one says ‘Shiraz’ the other says ‘Syrah’.

NSG 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges Faiveley 1996 £47.41
Very complex, concentrated and fine nose with lots of pure berry and blackcurrant fruit, and complex nuances of tar, roses and leafy undergrowth. Some background toasty, charry creaminess from oak. Crammed with clean, sweet, ripe fruit on the palate; very expressive and classy, but gripped solidly by tannins. Structured and terrifically pure and complex, this should really be cellared until the end of the decade, but is a quite superb wine.