April 2008 – Warwick Estate, Quartz Reef, Haut-Bailly

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my magazine column, or they may be wines from a recent tasting that hasn’t yet been written-up in a full-length report. There is a growing archive of these four of the best choices each month.

under a fiver

Marks & Spencer Bergerac Semillon (France) 2007
A blend of 85% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle, this is a lovely, fresh, unoaked wine made from vines aged 20-30 years, grown on well-drained slopes of calcareous-clay. It is brimming with bright, crisp, green apple fruit and is racy and vital on the palate, with delicious. mouth-watering crispness. It becomes richer, almost quite luscious and tropical on the mid-palate, but then that racy, vibrant, very fruity and fresh personality leaves it nimble and tangy in the finish. £4.99, in 300 Marks & Spencer stores.

under a tenner

Warwick Estate (South Africa) Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc 2007
At a recent tasting of South African wines put on by the generic body, Wines of South Africa, I tasted through 20 Sauvignons Blanc, as I have a hunch this is one of the key grape varieties for South Africa at the moment. For me, this was the best of the bunch, with a lovely delicate nose of fresh pea shoots and a touch of tropical, nectarine fruit. It has a delicious palate too, with the mango and guava lusciousness of the fruit checked by a hint of grapefruit and very good acidity. A winning wine, that’s available from Waitrose and everywine at £9.99.

under twenty

Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2006
From one of the most conscienscious estates in Pinot-obsessed Central Otago, this is not only a very fine wine, but there will be £2 off from May 6th when you buy two in Majestic’s upcoming special offers. It has a lovely nose, with berry and sweeet cherry fruit, a dark mocha background and a sense of harmony. The palate has a real juiciness and plenty of refined, racy black fruit. There’s a refined, classy structure and real sense of energy here. 14.5%, bottled in screwcap. £15.99, Majestic, but buy two bottles at £13.99 each from May 6th 2008.

sky’s the limit

Château Haut-Bailly (France, Bordeaux) 2002
I spent the first week of April in Bordeaux, attending the ‘en primeur’ tastings of Bordeaux’s latest vintage, 2007. Whilst there were some great wines there, the 2007 vintage won’t be on merchants’ shelves for 18 months or so, so instead I am awarding Wine of the Month to a smaller-scaled 2002 wine that I also tasted at Château Haut-Bailly when I visited. 2002 is not a vintage people get excited about, so this wine is not expensive by Bordeaux standards, yet for me it was drinking beautifully with a lovely nose, showing plenty of game and truffle, and a perfumed richness. There is really nice black fruit, and the palate has a delicious intensity and richness. 91/100. Around £25.00.