March 2013 – i Duecento, Millton, Littorai

My favourite wines tasted in March, in four price brackets.

under a fiver

i Duecento, Nero d’Avola/Shiraz 2011, Italy
The north of England’s quality-led supermarket chain Booths has just introduced a trio of very nice little wines, white, rosé and red, at a very low £4.99 per bottle. The wines come from a cooperative cellar in Piedmont in the north of Italy and I have chosen this fresh and crunchy red as my Wine of the Week. The wine is Sicilian, so I am not sure if it made there by the Co-op or if grapes are shipped north, but the result is a very pleasing and typical island blend of inky Nero d’Avola and sweet-fruited Shiraz, that has that dry, precise fruit on the palate and lovely edge of crisp tannin and acidity that makes it both delightfully easy to drink and a terrific mid-week pasta- and pizza-basher. Watch my video review for full details and more food matching suggestions. £4.99, Booths supermakets.

under a tenner

Parcel Series, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Australia
Majestic are very good at special ‘parcels’ – high quality wines from excellent producers, which they buy or have bottled exclusively for them, and sometimes offer without the producer’s name being stated (at a lower price than that producer would ideally like to have associated with their wines). This latest in the Parcel Series is an excellent buy at £5.99, which is very cheap indeed for a wine from the pricey and classy Margaret River region of Western Australia. It is an example of their best known white wine style, an ‘SSB’ or Semillon/Sauvingnon Blanc blend. The grassy, soft and leafy herb lift of the Sauvignon is there, but so too a fresh-pared lemon rind character. In the mouth it is basically dry, weighty and citrussy, with vigor and punch but a rich texture and more lemony focus that most straight Sauvignons. Watch my video review for more details and food matching ideas. £5.99 until 29th April 2013, Majestic (then £7.49).

under twenty

Millton Vineyards, Opou Chardonnay 2010, New Zealand
For me, arguably the star of the mid-priced range from biodynamic superstar estate Millton Vineyards from Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island. Fermented in oak barrels with natural yeasts, but only around 12% of the barrels are new. It has a lovely Brazil nut aroma and fine creamy character and plenty of vibrant, punchy orange and lime. Delicious wine, such gorgeous vibrancy punching through the oak, pristine, singing and vivacious and model stuff. 92/100. £12.99, Vintage Roots.

sky’s the limit

Littorai, Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010, USA
From the Sonoma Coast, this leaps in price but is a superb Pinot by any measure. From Ted Lemon’s biodynamic estate in the north of California’s vineyard country, on the true coast of Sonoma, this single vineyard wine is more subtle than the straight Sonoma Coast cuvée which is also excellent and cheaper, but misses some of the complexity and beguiling fragrance of this wine. It has a briary, brackeny, even cool green character, with more beetroot vegatility too. The freshness and layered depth on the palate is outstanding, lots of juiciness matched by creamy texture and tannins, but subtly layered, spicy and beguiling. 94/100. £49.42 at Exel Wines