July 2004 – Kendermanns, Caronne St Gemme, Veuve-Clicquot

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
Snake Creek (Australia) Chardonnay/Semillon 2003
I chose this cheap and cheerful Australian wine because it restored my faith in £4 bottles being able to offer something really interesting. From South East Australia, about 90% of what is in the bottle is a Chardonnay/Semillon blend, in almost equal proportions, along with around 10% Colombard. The latter is key on the nose however, as the wine has an edge of real gooseberry and nettle pungency, before quite a vivid core of waxy lemon and gently toasty fruit. On the palate it is very vibrant, with a lick of grapefruit and lime against ripe, sweet tropical fruit all fleshed out with a little cashew and oatmeal from a short time in oak. With a nice mouthfeel and quite a long finish, this is exemplary summer stuff and highly recommended. £3.99, Oddbins.

under a tenner
Kendermanns (Pfalz) Dry Riesling “Kalkstein” 2002
I really hope Safeway, now Morrisons, is still listing this wine. They certainly were as of the last wine list I had from the old regime. I’ve had this cellared for nine months, and whilst it was always good, now it is just glorious. It comes from the southerly Pfalz region, which often produces a fuller style of Rielsing. It has quite a delicate, blossom and orchard fruit nose, but a much juicier nectarine quality has filled-in, and just a hint of tea leaf. The palate is full, with a searing core of lemony acidity, but also a really tropical ripeness with lychee and mango to the fore, with a powerhouse of sumptuous fruit and plenty of zest and zing. With very good length, and its very vivacious personality, this is gorgeous stuff. £6.99, Safeway

under twenty
Ch. Caronne St Gemme (Bordeaux) 2000
I am absolutely thrilled that this wine from the great 2000 vintage, and one of my favourite Crus Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc, is in the case currently on offer through wine-pages-shop.com. For Bordeaux’s left bank, 2000 really is a great year (one of the top half dozen of the past 100 years), and the class of the vintage shows in this fantastic little wine. I say “little” given the extravagant prices of Bordeaux, but this will drink well for 15 years if you have the patience to cellar it. It has a solid, vibrant ruby colour, and a truly lovely nose of blackcurrant, minerals, cedarwood and a little perfume of violets and ripe plums. On the palate it is authoritative with its crisp, elegant tannic structure and lovely cherry acidity, but a great sweep of ripe, burstingly sweet black fruit powers through the mid palate. The wine is elegant and poised, with a long, pure finish that shows terrific class. Currently £9.99 when you buy two bottles. Majestic

sky’s the limit

Veuve-Clicquot Vintage Reserve 1988 in magnum
This wine was disgorged September 1998. Plenty of minute bubbles. Quite a sweet, floral edge on the nose, with lots of sweet toastiness too, and an emerging espresso note. The palate has terrific breadth; a sumptuous mélange of orangy fruit, sweetness and rich, rolling mousse. There’s a precise cut of mineral and lemon acidity and though it stays toasty and broad, a scintillating edge. Harmonious and outstanding. Champagnes like this are one of the great joys, and though I cannot see a stockist of magnums on wine-searcher, there are sources of bottles: