August 2009 – Torres, Achaval Ferrer, Flagstone, Fox Gordon

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my magazine column or TV show, 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
Flagstone Free Run Sauvignon Blanc 2008, South Africa
Part of the new promotion in Majestic for this month and next, the price of this wine from talented winemaker Bruce Jack is slashed to just £3.97, making it an out-and-out no brainer. It has a big, grassy, punchy nose with hints of exotic fruit, with lychee and a certain mineral, flinty quality. The palate has lots of sweet-fruited richness, and that hint of flamboyance continues. Perhaps this is a touch more dilute and shorter than it might be, but at the offer price? Dive in big time! £3.97 in September, Majestic.

under a tenner
Fox Gordon, Princess Fiano 2008, Australia
Though still far from common, there’s more of another southern Italian grape, Fiano, around in South Australia than you might imagine. This example has a seductively pretty nose where wild flower and quite exotic guava and lychee notes meld with a touch of honey and some nectarine fruit. On the palate it is a real beauty: that burstingly sweet, juicy nectarine and mandarin orange fruit fills the mouth, with a little trace of something smoky and mineral, and plenty of zesty acidity just giving a cutting edge and shimmering boost to the pitch-perfect fruit. £9.99, Oddbins

under twenty
Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2007, Argentina
Achaval Ferrer is arguably Argentina’s most coveted wine name and talented winemaker, and this, just about the cheapest wine in his portfolio, is an absolute beauty. It has a leafy, floral character, with lovely black cherry and silky black plum fruit spreading sumptuously across the nose. The palate has terrific, fine, very precise and juicy black fruit, with a tight, sinewy palate that stayes focused into a shimmering, crisp finish. A really terrific bargain this for a wine of such quality. £12.49 at Corney & Barrow, but see all stockists on

sky’s the limit
Torres Mas La Plana 2003, Spain
The Mas La Plana vineyard lies in Penedès, not far from the Torres family home. Planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, it produces this single-vineyard wine that caused a sensation on its first release in 1970. This is one of the finest European wines I have tasted from 2003, an unusually hot vintage in which many wines suffered from awkward tannins, low acidity and over-ripe grapes. But this seemed perfectly pitched, with it blackcurrant, peppercorn and spice nose infused with coffeeish French oak. The palate is just perfectly poised and balanced, with pristine, ripe blackcurrant fruit and layers of nuance, with smokiness, spice and a sinewy core. Long, slightly austere and intellectual, but delicious, I am happy to award this the ‘sky’s the limit’ trophy in a month when I drank some extraordinary wines including a 1955 Burgundy that was fabulous but unobtainable, as this can be had for around £20.00.