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
Capel Vale (Australia) Mountain Duck Chenin Blanc Chardonnay 2005
Capel Vale’s ‘Mountain Duck’ range is made to be expressively fruity, with little or no oak influence. This humdinger Chenin/Chardonnay blend, in a screwcapped bottle, has vivid lychee, pineapple and tropical fruit brightness, but also a big honeyed core that is luscious and alluring. There’s a little leafy aspect too, with a hint of gooseberry and elderflower. On the palate this is bold, fruity and delicious, and it is brimming with the same luscious but bright and exotic fruit cocktail of flavours. The acidity is really nice here, with a soft edge to lemon and lime, but it stays nicely focused and crisp with its modest 13.5% alcohol. A lovely summery wine, and Thresher’s ‘three for two’ policy means the bottle price falls to £5.32 if you buy a trio. £7.99, Thresher.
under a tenner
Mil Piedras (Argentina) Merlot 2004Mil Piedras employs the services of Michel Rolland, probably the world’s top winemaking consultant. Merlot is Rolland’s tour de force grape, and there were only 2,000 cases made of this example from vineyards in the foothills of the Andes. The first impression on the nose is quite a sumptuous one, with loads of chocolaty berry fruit, an aromatic edge of cedar and Sandalwood and plenty of creamy richness. On the palate this has lovely balance and quality. Sweet bramble and red plum fruit fills the mouth, with a creamy consistency and bittersweet cocoa and liquorice darkness and richness. A little edge of something kirsch-like, with a cherry tang of acidity and quiet complex little Parma violet and blueberry flavours adds a layer of complexity. What a seriously good little wine this is, with both strucure, depth and fruit. £6.95, Sussex Wine Company, but currently on offer at £6.25.£6.25
Berry’s Extra Ordinary Red Burgundy (France) 2005
Made by Nicolas Potel, one of Burgundy’s hottest young winemakers. From an extremely good vintage, this has a vibrant but delicate garnet colour, and a very expressive Pinot Noir nose of sweet, damp earth, sous-bois and gentle cherry fruit. There is spice and a lick of sweet vanillin in the background. On the palate this wine has lovely poise and precision: there’s a freshness about the crisp raspberry and red cherry fruit, and just a gentle support of truffly, leafy character and background oak. This wine is long and focused, and the role played by the wood – adding gentle spice and toast – is always secondary to the refined fruit and crisp tannin and acid structure. £11.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, or £10.75 by the case.
sky’s the limit
Krug (Fance) Vintage Champagne 1996
The brand new release from Krug is a lovely, delicate, but really quite deep lemony yellow colour. On the nose, it is very open and expressive already, with lots of sour lemons, a touch of nettle, and a gentle, buttery toastiness. This seems more open at this stage than the 1995 (tasted in April), with a fairly vivacious personality, but complex hints of white flowers and toffee. On the palate it has a terrifically zesty, razor sharp core of lemon fruit, with excellent acidity, but also a sense of fat and richness on the mid-palate. The fruit broadens slightly, taking on a little more plumpness, but the focus and precision pulls it powerfully through to the finish. There is a tiny hint of creamy richness right in the finish that helps make this a very approachable and delicious young Krug, but the it undoubtedly has the balance and central spine to age very gracefully too if you choose to cellar it. Without question an outstanding wine, and one that will drink earlier than 1995. Around £150.