June 2005 – Inycon, Yering Station, Mont Gras, Guigal

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
Inycon (Italy) Aglianico 2003
A native grape of southern Italy, and like so many from this region probably of Greek origin, Aglianico thrives on the volcanic soils of Basilicata and the slopes of Mount Vulture. Inycon, a progressive wine estate on the island of Sicily, is doing great things with such traditional varieties, which offer one point of difference on the increasingly restricted wine shelves of our supermarkets. The nose on this has a lovely boldness and confidence, with a surge of straightforward, juicy black fruits, hinting at a liquorice, clove and damson-skin darkness. On the palate that spicy black fruit holds centre stage, with a nice edge of drying tannin and keen, food-friendly acidity. Unoaked and with plenty of chewy depth of fruit, this is a very nice candidate for summertime barbecues. £4.99 Somerfield.

under a tenner
Yering Station (Australia) Pinot Noir Rosé ‘Extra Dry’ 2004
Yering Station is one of the oldest wineries in Australia, with vineyards planted in 1838, and their first wine production in 1845. Today they seem to go from strength to strength under young winemaker Tom Carson, last year’s Winemaker of the Year in the International Wine and Spirit Competition. The Pinot Noir Rosé really is a beauty, and much more akin to a lighter style fully-fledged Pinot Noir from Alsace or the Loire Valley than most rosé styles. It has a deep, cherry red colour and fabulous, berry-laden nose. Ageing in French oak barriques adds a delicate smokiness and spicy warmth, but this is a vividly fruity wine. On the palate it has real Pinot character: a fine truffle and damp earth nuance to sweet strawberry fruit, all wrapped in that sheen of well-judged oak and with a fine core of acidity that shimmers and lengthens the finish. An absolutely terrific and totally individual wine. Majestic £9.99, or currently on offer of two @ £8.49

under twenty
Mont Gras (Chile) Ninquen Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
The Ninquen project is Mont Gras’ attempt to raise the bar into super-premium fine wine territory, based around a stunning vineyard planted on a 500 metre hilltop, and made in a dedicated micro-winery. With 5% Malbec also in the blend, this has a lovely bright, plush and focused pure fruit nose of blackcurrant and plum, with mint and dark chocolate notes, and a toasty in-fill of French oak. The palate continues that concentrated, sweet and minty intensity with sinuous, powerful dark fruit supported by deep coffee and chocolate tannins, and a lovely subtle edge of blackcurrantty acidity and grip. Around £18.99.

sky’s the limit
Guigal (France) Côte-Rôtie La Mouline 2000
This is made from 100% Côte Blonde fruit. It sees almost four years in new oak before release. Guigal has the longest experience of using new oak in all of Rhône, and has experimented with all sorts of oaks, all sorts of toasting and all sorts of tonneliers. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, but goes through malolactic and ageing in barrel – a Burgundian technique. Philippe will de-stem according to vintage conditions; all stems come off in less ripe, “green” years, but he prefers partial de-stemming where possible. The colour is a dense, even dark crimson. It has a deep, sonorous, cherry and herb-scented nose, with gentle toast and a chocolaty depth, and a real sense of plushness. There are little notes of blueberry and floral highlights too, in a pure but complex fragrance. Lovely fruit on the palate here; really fine, rich, ripe cassis and black cherry fruit, with a medium-bodied, silky mouthfeel and very smooth texture. The finish has a great suppleness and a bittersweet chocolate and espresso depth, but it stays fresh, cherry-lifted and harmonious in the finish. Very good length too, with spicy, rich and toasty notes playing against fine acidity and a tight tannic structure. Outstanding. Around £140