August 2010 – Chryseia, Tomas Cusine, Anakena, Hilltop Estate

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.

under a fiver

Hilltop Estates Cserszegi Fuszeres 2009, Hungary
For me one of the most characterful whites it is possible to buy for under four quid. Yummilicious stuff, made from the near-unpronouncable Cseszegi Fuszeres grape, a cross between Gewürztramier and Irsai Oliver, which explains its heady, floral and exotic aromatics. On the palate there’s some texture and a flood of passionfruit and ripe, juicy pear flavour. With fine acidity and just a hint of spice, this is great drinking at a very modest price. £3.99, Morrisons.

under a tenner

Anakena, Single Vineyard Viognier 2009, Chile
This is the most perfumed and intense of Viogniers, and delivers the goods vintage after vintage. From Anakena in the Rapel Valley, something of a Viognier specialist, it has a glorious nose offering a heady melange of powdered ginger, flowers and the downy skins of ripe peaches. On the palate a massive burst of flavour, with apricot and tangy orange flooding across the palate. Delicious aperitif wine, but match it to Thai or Chinese food, creamy risottos or pastas. Note too that this is the same wine sold by Marks & Spencer online wine store as the ‘DOMA’ Viognier from Chile at £8.99. £7.99,

under twenty

Tomàs Cusiné, Geol 2007, Spain
From the Costers del Segre region, high in northeast Spain close to the French border, this is an unusual blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Carignan and Marselan (the latter a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, now quite common in the Languedoc). It is aged in new French oak barrels. The nose has a swirling, enticing, Sandalwood and cassis density with a little lift of kirsch and very ripe blueberry fruit. On the palate this is a big, fruit-packed wine with a creamy, balsamic richness, the smooth, fragrant and spicy oak adding layered depth and the tannins overtly chocolaty and dense. It is big and bold, but there is good balance in a showy but successful style. At the mixed case price it has considerable appeal. £19.99 (£15.99 as part of a mixed case), Oddbins.

sky’s the limit

Prats-Symington, Chryseia 2008, Portugal
The 2009 version of this wine, made by Bruno Prats of Bordeaux and the Symingtons of the Douro, might be even better (tasted from barrel at the quinta) but this 2008 blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca wil do for now. Twelve months in new French oak adds to the beautifully fragrant nose, with deep, cedar and Sandalwood scents, but sll in the background with ripe, fresh red and black fruits to the fore. A glint of the Douro’s schisty, stony minerality too. The palate has lovely fruit and great finesse: there’s no meatiness or earthiness to this wine, no sense of the more baked quality some Douro reds can exhibit. The fruit is creamy and slicked with vanilla, but has lovely clarity and purity, pushing through with very refined tannins. Extremely long and fine, with such a delightfully poised finish. Plush but absolutely beautifully pitched. 94/100. Now the bad news! This wine is in short supply and the most recent vintage that seems to be on sale at the moment is the 2006.