March 2010 – Hilltop, La Cote Flamenc, Langmeil, Tapanappa

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared on my TV slot, 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

Hilltop, Cserszegi Fuszeres 2008, Hungary
The name may be close to unpronounceable, but Hungary’s Cserszegi Fuszeres grape (a cross between Irsai Oliver and Gewürztraminer) has made a beautifully fresh and aromatic white that is worth seeking out. The nose is filled with clear, floral-tinged fruit that has hints of exotic lychee, but is crisp and appetising. On the palate the wine has a bit of texture and weight, and a palate flooded with fruit reminiscent of passionfruit and really ripe, juicy pears. With fine acidity and just a hint of spice, this will make for delightful spring and summer drinking at a very modest price. £3.89, Morrisons.

under a tenner

La Cote Flamenc, Picpoul de Pinet 2008, France
This wine was tasted as part of a wine and food matching dinner I attended, but represents what is great about this appellation: the freshness and minerality of the wines providing a real counterpoint to more obviously fruity grape varieties. With a course of warm oysters with a shallot and sherry foam, this was one of my personal star wines of the night. It has wonderfully delicate nose of fresh, crisp apples and a tiny glimpse of walnut and honey. The palate has some weight and texture, but it is dazzlingly fresh, the clean line of the acidity running precisely through to a long finish, and dealing nicely with the meaty, plump flesh of the lukewarn oysters. The sherry in the foam was not a strong flavour, but the tiny hint of nuttiness in the wine matched nicely. £7.67, Bibendum

under twenty

Langmeil, Valley Floor Shiraz 2008, Australia
There’s no doubt Australia’s wines have been changing over the past five or six years, and the stereotypical style of big, overripe wines laden with oak is largely now a thing of the past. But this example from ther Barossa Valley harks back to the traditional style of Barossa Shiraz with all the fruit, oak, power and energy you could wish for – and unashamedly so. It has a veneer of spice, vanilla and American oak, but a lovely lift of cherry and blueberry fruit. On the palate it delivers a huge, mouth-filling plum pie flavour with sweet fruit, pastry vanilla notes and lots of chocolaty depth. It is big but balanced, in a beautifully confident – and delicious – style. £12.00 or so

sky’s the limit

Tapanappa, Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2008, Australia
The Tiers vineyard was planted in Piccadilly by Brian Croser in 1979. This 2008 vintage was was a particularly hot one, but perhaps because the wine was picked early, it has retained a really vibrant edge. The earliest releases where also very heavily – and for me overly – oaked, but despite being one of the world’s most experienced winemakers, Croser is clearly able to adapt and the oak on this sits beautifully, restrained and gently cashew-like, allowing the pristine fruit quality to shine. The wine is immensely concentrated and intense, but shimmers with life. Clearly the best Tiers Chardonnay yet, with wonderful balance and a long, long finish. 94/100. £35.00