July 2005 – St Hallet, Rocca di Montegrossi, Pietri-Geraud

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 pound
St Hallet (Australia) Poacher’s Blend 2004
Screwcapped for freshness, this Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling blend is St Hallet’s introductory label, but is an impeccably-made white wine. It has a vividly fruity nose with aromas of glacé fruits, lemon and hints of a more tropical character. The palate is vivacious and bright, with a flood of sweet-edged fruit that is peachy and ripe, with notes of juicy apple and hints of nectarine and guava. It is an easy-drinking and summery wine, with a decisive core of citrus acidity that sweeps through to the finish. £5.99 – £6.49 Bibendum, Oddbins.

under a tenner
Rocca di Montegrossi (Italy) Chianti Classico 2003
The wet 2002 demanded some cabernet and merlot in the blend and some barrique ageing to give thier Chianti Classico some body (and it is a terrific wine – buy it if the 2003 is not yet available), but for 2003 they returned to 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo aged only in large oak vats. There is a fragrant minerality about the nose, with crisp cherry and redcurrant fruit and a crushed, dry fruit and cedar quality. On the palate it is silky and smooth, but extremely fresh with leafy, cherryish fruit and a juicy, mouthwatering quality of tannin and acidity. Around £9.99 Philglas & Swiggot, Uncorked, La Reserve, Imbibros, Veritas, Bacchanalia, Ten Acres, Webbers.

under twenty
Domaine Piétri-Géraud Banyuls ‘Cuvée Joseph-Géraud’ 1997
Grenache with 10% Carignan, this delightful Banyuls, a fortified sweet wine from the south of France, is aged in large oak vats, with 10% aged in barriques in the open air. Basically this is a solera, with some wine always deliberately left behind. It has a browning colour and nicely oxidised nose of sherried, slightly raisiny fruit, prunes and mocha coffee. The palate is lush and creamy, with a beautiful sweetness of Muscovado sugar, rich wild berry compote and delicate nuances of tea and tobacco. The pure, long finish fills in with a bittersweet dark chocolate and a nice edge of tannins and acidity. Around £15.00, Ballantynes of Cowbridge, everywine.co.uk

sky’s the limit

Nicolis (Italy) Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000
Deep, dark, and quite animal on the nose, with rounded, creamy fruit and a dark damson plum character. On the palate there is an intense sweet edge to the fruit that is really ripe and decisive, with cherry and keen, crisp, raspberry fruit playing against a chocolate and dark raisin and kirsch-soaked plum quality. Dark and dramatic, the acids and spicy tannins fill in the finish in a lovely, lovely wine. £25.99