August 2002 – Goiya, Cassegrain, Doisy Daene, Charles Melton

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my newspaper 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
Goiya Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc 2002
One of South Africa’s big brands, this is simply a fantastic wine for under £4. The nose is beautifully balanced between ripe tropical fruitiness, a hint of gooseberry punch and lime-sharp verve. On the palate delicious ripe green fig flavours, a touch of honey, and plenty of crisp, yet rich fruit. Sensational stuff at the price. (Asda; Safeway; Sainsbury’s; Tesco, £3.99)

under a tenner
Cassegrain (Australia) Chambourcin 1999
Chambourcin is a hybrid grape from the Loire valley – a hybrid because at least one of its “parents” is not Vitis vinifera, but its exact parentage is unknown. Chambourcin is gaining ground in Australia for making characterful quality wines. I’d previously tasted an example from Pendarves estate which was one of the stars of their portfolio, but this wine from Cassegrain is the best I’ve tasted. The colour is intense, vibrant purple, and the nose immediately exudes spicy, deep, concentrated class. There’s an element of pleasant, animal rusticity, and some herbal notes, but plenty of deep cherry fruit. On the palate this medium-bodied wine is savoury rather than sweet, with layers of cherry and crisp berry fruit and edgy tannins. It is refined though, with good length and balance, and certainly offers distinctive drinking. Imported by New World Wines, from their shop in Wandsworth, or from Wimbledon Wine Cellars (Tel: 020 8540 9979), £9.99.

under twenty
Château Doisy Daëne (Bordeaux) Sec 1998
This is an absolutely astonishing dry white Bordeaux from a fine Sauternes producer, made from the same grapes; Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. It has a gorgeous, riveting nose of fragrant, downy peach skins, little floral notes, satsuma, candied fruit and a delicious vanillia sweetness. On the palate that flood of peachy fruit continues, with bright, elegant character and plenty of balanced citrussy acidity. There’s a tropical ripeness, but also restraint, into an endless, lightly toasty finish. The bad news is that I scopped the lot of this (11 cases) from its Scottish agent on behalf of an institution for whom I recommend wine purchases, but I have found a supplier of the 1999: Mayor Sworder, £12.76.

sky’s the limit
Charles Melton (Australia) Nine Popes 1994
Charles Melton’s take on Châteauneuf du Pape has an absolutely gorgeous nose of refined raspberry fruit, earth, a gentle pepperiness and a softening background of sweet oak. This manages to be both svelte and juicily ripe; sophisticated yet deliciously easy to drink. It has medium-bodied elegance and fine, ripe tannins balanced against nimble acidity. Tasted blind against many top Australian Shirazes it came across as much more savoury, complex, and food friendly too. The reputedly excellent 1998 vintage sneaks in below the budget, at £18.95 from WineRaks, also by the case from Everywine.