April 2016’s Wines of the Month


Under £10

(2016) The Wine Rack chain is owned by Conviviality retail, the UK's biggest off-licence operator (who also took over Bibendum wines last week).  What an excellent Petit Chablis this is, with hints of proper Chablis character so rarely found in these wines which don't usually come from Chablis' famous Kimmeridgean soils, with some flint and gunsmoke, bold and fresh apple and load of juicy personality. Lovely lime and lemon freshness and a touch of mineral saltiness in the finish.

Under £15

(2016) Michel Chapoutier is one of the best producers of the Rhône Valley in France, but he has also produced wines here in the deep south close to the Spanish border for almost two decades. This terrific blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan is aged only in big, old barrels. Its name - Occultum Lapidem - is Latin for 'secret stones' or 'hidden stones', because this wine is all about terroir - expressing the slate and granite soils as well as the garrigue - the wild flowers and herbs - of the Roussillon soil. It is plummy and rich in fruit, but there's a wonderful spice and earthiness too, a real bittersweet grip and authority, ending with freshness and backbone. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas. Normally £15.95 but currently on offer at £13.50 - not bad for a wine graced with 93-95 points by eRobertParker.

Under £20

(2016) A wine that falls into the 'natural wine' category given that the grapes are grown without chemicals, only natural yeasts are used and a minimal of sulphur. It is also aged only in large, very lightly toasted barrels. It's a blend of Grenache and Macabeau, and has a haunting floral, straw and sweet earth nose, a light touch of almond or honey. In the mouth it has texture, body and richness - serve it not too cold because it has the layered complexity and some of the meaty character of a red wine. With excellent acidity and the fruit playing against those complex terroir flavours of the Roussillon and very old vines. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.

Sky’s the Limit

(2016) What a triumph this is for Marimar Torres, who experimented with different appellations to grow Albariño before settling on the Russian River. Grown organically and planted at high density, the wine is made in steel and does not go through malolactic fermentation. It has an expressive, authentic and beguiling nose where the most delicate fresh pear and peach marries with gentle floral hints, and a touch of Chablis-like flint. On the palate the 14% alcohol is unbotrusive, but instead gives fat and texture to the ripe pear fruit of the palate before a streak of ripe, lime-like acidity. A terrific Albariño by any standards. Only the 2012/13 are in stock in the UK at time of review.

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