June 2006 – Canti, Anakena, L’Avenir, Domaine Dujac

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
Canti (Italy) Catarrato Chardonnay 2005
Blending Chardonnay with the native Catarrato grape, Canti of Sicily has produced this ‘IGT’ wine in a fresh, summery style that is an absolute delight to drink – especially bottled in a screwcap as it is. The nose has a certain creamy plushness, but really it is all about fruit, balanced between a bright citrus freshness with a certain leafy note, and plenty of ripe, tropical fruit. On the palate it is medium-bodied, and the banana and pineapple richness of well-ripened Chardonnay fruit is cut and tempered by the fresh, juicy acidity of the Catarrato, leaving this clean, dry and moreish. £3.99, Tesco.

under a tenner
Anakena (Chile) ‘Ona’ Syrah 2004
I caught up with Anakena’s winemaker Gonzalo Perez recently, and tasted through his range of wines including some really unusual and interesting blends like a Riesling/Viognier/Chardonnay and, believe it or not, a Pinot Noir/Merlot/Syrah/Viognier that will be in this country soon. Already here, and already delicious, this Syrah has very refined black fruit on the nose, with a lovely depth of blackcurrant, and a judicious rounding out with gently coffeeish oak (10 months in a mix of French and American barriques). On the palate it is mouth-filling, with a rich seam of plum, blackcurrant and chocolate flavours, with a certain meatiness and plenty of pepper and spice into the finish. It retains a lovely edge of acidity, and the tight, plush tannins add depth without detracting from the generous nature of this wine. £9.09 Oddbins.

under twenty
L’Avenir (South Africa) Pinotage Grand Vin 2004
Michel Laroche of Chablis now owns the L’Avenir estate in Stellenbosch. This is L’Avenir’s top expression of the Pinotage grape, and it is deeper, darker, with a more cedary and leathery sense of structure and depth than their basic bottling. The palate has a layering of French oak that is somewhat impenetrable at present, but the depth and richness of fruit is certainly there, and this is packed with a taut, quite muscular presence, supple tannic framework and lots of plushness and spice. Very promising, but already outstanding. Around £19.99, UK distribution has recently been taken over by Bibendumns Wines

sky’s the limit
Domaine Dujac (France) Morey-St-Denis 2000
Dujac remains one of the absolute benchmark Burgundy estates in my opinion, whose wines never disappoint, and are always beautifully expressive of their terroir. This 2000 Morey is undoubtedly still young, but it is already drinking quite beautifully with a nose that is quite solidly fruity, yet reveals all sorts of earthy, damp, vegetal undertones and a very seductive, floral perfume. On the palate it has a stripe of tannins adding some real structure, but around that hangs copious, soft berry fruit, spice and more of that intriguing earthiness. This has lovely balance and a long, harmonious finish. Masterful.
Around £32 – £38