My favourite wines tasted during the month, in four price brackets.
Finca Mirador, Shiraz 2010, Argentina
It’s not so long ago that this category was ‘under a fiver’, then ‘under six pounds’, and now we are creeping towards a permanent change towards ‘under seven pounds’ – ever escalating taxes and duty, poor exchange rates and rising costs mean that finding anything out of the ordinary at a fiver is now close to impossible. Around 40% of this Mendoza Shiraz was aged for 10 months in American oak barrels. It has a creamy, bright, beautifully judged nose with a touch of pepper and spice to the solid black fruit. The palate has delightful juicy richness, flooded with blackberry and plum, but creamy and retaining a lovely chocolaty richness. Big, crowd-pleasing stuff, but very well done. 87/100. £6.49, The Co-operative
under a tenner
Rustenberg, Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay 2011, South Africa
Tasted when I visited the winery in mid-May, I was delighted to then re-taste this at Tesco’s summer press tasting just a few days later. The Sauvignon and Chardonnay are joined by little bits of Roussanne, Marsanne, Semillon and Viognier,” according to winemaker Randolph Christians. Lovely aromatic nose, lots of juicy, bright passionfruit, apple and a bit juicy, tropical mango. Fresh and vital on the palate, Randolph says he has “notched a little extra sugar in this for the commercial market,” but have no fear: it tastes dry, zingy fresh and totally appealing. 87/100. £9.99, Tesco.
Thierry Rodriguez, Schistes Stratagème 2009, France
This Languedoc red from Thierry Rodriguez is part of his Stratagème series of avowedly “terroir wines.” He will not reveal the grape varieties in the bottle or discuss the winemaking as it is specifically meant to be about expressing the schistes (slate) soils of this particular terroir. It has a bright and powerful nose, with raspberry pulp, black berries and a hint of cracked black pepper. The palate has no shortage of sleek black fruit with plenty of mid-palate sweetness, but that earthy dryness, edges of salty minerals and tightly-defined, juicy finish make this lean and savoury too. An interesting wine, but more than that, a delicious and well-balanced one too. 89/100. £12.95, Jeroboams.
sky’s the limit
Graham’s, Tawny Port 1952, Portugal
The top wine of the month has to be this 60-year-old Port bottled for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The colour is an almost mahogany brown at the core, with tawny on the broad rim. It is visibly thick and quite viscous in the glass. On the nose, aromas of deep, dark fruit cake and walnut are joined by an inherent red fruit ripeness at the core, but lovely glimpses of old polished wood, roasting chestnuts and toffee add layers of interest. On the palate it is glycerine rich, and still abundantly sweet. Those dark, mature, roasted and caramel flavours dominate, but there’s a figgy pudding richness to this still, and terrific acidity as Seville orange and lemon zest slice through, and the wine still displays real structure. On the finish it is the sweetness that dominates, the smoothness and intensity all beguiling and impressive as it goes on and on in the mouth. A fabulous old wine, but one that is wearing extraordinarily well. 95/100. £275, Berry Bros & Rudd.