April 2013 – Chasseur, Crusher, Sophenia, Meinklang

My favourite wines tasted in March, in four price brackets.

under a fiver

Cuvée Chasseur, Rouge 2012, France
Finding wines costing under five pounds is still relatively easy. The big problem is finding decent examples at that price. A recent study by a big UK wine distributor called Hatch Mansfield showed that after taxes, costs and profit margins, only 4% – that’s 20p – from a £5.00 bottle of wine is made up by the stuff inside the bottle. I won’t be focusing under £5 very often, but I know many people seek a cheap and cheerful party wine or mid-week pasta basher, so here’s one that is an acceptable quaffer. It’s a ‘Vin de France’, so fruit can be mixed from different French regions, and in this case that results in a berry and bramble-scented and flavoured, easy-drinking mouthful that has nothing to offer by way of structure or complexity, but is as good as any I’ve tasted recently. It does the job. £4.99, Waitrose, Ocado.

under a tenner

The Crusher, Pinot Noir 2011, California
OK, technically speaking not under £10, but as far as Pinot Noir from California goes, this is a very well-priced example and a really good one. Coming from vineyards in Clarksburg, it has 13.5% alcohol, and is fermented with wild yeast before agein in French oak. It has a nice lightness to its colour and lovely aromatics. There is coffee and woodsmoke, a touch of exotic incense too and a fresh raspberry and more plummy fruit. In the mouth there is plenty of vanilla and coffeeish toast, but there is authentic, gently earthy and fresh Pinot Noir fruit too with a certain agility and good length. Watch the video for more information and food matching suggestions. 90/100. £10.00, Villeneuve Wines, and see all stockists on wine-searcher.

under twenty

Finca Sophenia, Reserve Malbec 2011, Argentina
Finca Sophenia has been a name to watch out for in recent years, with Michel Rolland consulting and some very interesting vineyards in prime spots of Tupangato in Mendoza. The handsome and heavy bottle indicates the ambitions, and the deep black/purple colour indicates the youth and concentration of the wine. It has the elegant violet and cracked pepper lift that is always welcome in Malbec, as well as spicy, chocolate, Agen prune and fig notes. On the palate there is a delicious surge of ripe, plummy and full black fruit, very sweet and full, but with the tart edge of plum and cherry skin acidity and tight tannins adding some tension. A lovely wine, intense and powerful at 14.5% ABV, but long and balanced too. A big mouthful of wine this, and a bottle that should cellar. 90-91/100. £12.95See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.

sky’s the limit

Meinklang, ‘Konkret’ Sankt Laurent 2009, Austria
From Burgenland in Austria this dry red wine is pretty much out there: fully biodynamic and vinified using wild yeasts in concrete ‘eggs’. It has such an involving and inviting spice and meatiness on the nose, with an exotic, incense note and very nice black fruit at its core. On the palate it has sweet, silky fruit, but it is cloaked in tannin and dark, espresso-like concentration with a long, bone dry and gently spicy finish. Intriguing and delicious too, and with those tannins probably one to cellar for a few years. 92/100. £27.00, Vintage Roots. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.