January 2009 – Cazes, Marques de Riscal, Sol-Payre, Perrier Jouet

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 six pounds

Domaine Cazes (France) Hospice de Catalans Côtes de Roussillon Villages 2006
Wine of the week 18/01/09. This screams of the hot, rocky soils and garrigue of the south, with notes of crisp, bright, juicy cherry and berry fruit and black peppery nuances, and that schisty, stony minerality persisting. On the palate it balances exuberant, bold fruitiness with a certain darkness and tension from a gamy, sauvage undertone and grippy, intense tannins. A striking style this, with an edgy character through that mineral racininess to the fruit, tannins and acidity. It packs a lot into the bottle for its ‘3-4-2’ price of just £5.99, Thresher.

under a tenner

Marques de Riscal (Spain) Rueda 2007
A famous name of Rioja, though making this wine in the Spanish white-wine hotspot of Rueda. Though there’s a lot of Sauvignon Blanc in the region, Verdejo is the main indigenous variety and indeed, makes up 100% of this wine. Verdejo shares many Sauvignon characteristics however, and the opening volley from this wine is a punch of grassy, nettly aroma and a big core of gooseberry and elderflower. There’s a refined lime zestiness behind. On the palate that grassy, green fig and herbal character fills the mouth, but this has some weight and smoky minerality, and a the long, fresh, citrus finish makes it sharp as a tack and fish and shellfish-friendly. £6.99, Majestic, Sainsbury’s.

under twenty

Domaine Sol-Payré, Cuvée Ivresse de Sens 2006
Wine of the week 09/02/09. Soaring nose of cassis and kirsch. There’s a promise of richness and depth here, with a luxurious gloss and lifted, almost violety aromatic. The palate does not disappoint, with a striking, sweet core of black berry fruits, the mid-palate flooded with a creamy weight of fruit and supple, chocolaty tannins adding more texture. But this is fresh too, with good acidity and a balanced, long finish. Lovely stuff this in a plush and pleasurable, yet ultimately savoury style. £10.50, Leon Stolarski Fine Wines.

sky’s the limit

Champagne Perrier Jouët La Belle Époque Rosé 2002
What an absolute treat to taste this deluxe cuvée for the first time, and in such a great vintage. Belle-époque’s iconic, hand-painted bottle looks even finer adorning the rosé version, which is composed of all three main Champagne grapes, with the addition of 8% red wines from Ambonnay and Aÿ. There’s a strong familial resemblance to the regular Belle époque, with its freshness and slightly lean beginning, with subtle, delicate zesty aromas joined by cherry and soft redcurrant fruit. On the palate this has great finesse and a sense of precision, but there is structure here and a subtle layering of flavour and texture. It would be a sinful act to drink this now, but what an exceptional Valentine’s gift to cellar for 10 years or more, perhaps for a future anniversary? 92/100. £80 – £120, Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Vintage House.