November 2002 – Terra Vitis, Max Ferdinand Richter, Pol Roger

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
Terra Vitis (France) Corbières 2001
Surprise, surprise, on twirling this wine round to read the back label I discover it is yet another product of Europe’s hottest current co-operative, the producers of Mont Tauch in the South of France. Their seemingly infallible state of the art winery makes wines under a variety of labels, and this “Wine of the Month” award is not only for this excellent Corbières, but for their acheivements over the past few years. If you see Mont Tauch in the small-print of a £5 supermarket red from the Languedoc, it is almost certainly worth buying. This one comes from vineyards which follow the practise of “Lutte Raisonée”, a form or agriculture which respects the environment. It is a blend of the Mediterrannean grapes, Carignan, Syrah and Grenache. The nose is creamy, warm and gently spicy, with copious berries and a little hint of old roses. On the palate there’s a raft of broad, soft, drying tannin that supports beautifully sweet, ripe cherry and berry fruit. Balanced and long, this is a lovely little red with savoury, food-friendly appeal. Majestic, £4.99.

under a tenner
Max Ferdinand Richter (Germany, M-S-R) Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese 1999
I’ve been tasting and drinking quite a lot of 1999 Mosel Rieslings recently, and whilst the quality of the 2001 vintage is currently causing plenty of ripples, I have to say the 1999s are easy to come by and seem to be of terrific quality. Peachy, figgy and rich, with pear and hints of cinnamon and toast. Quite explosive this. Lovely waxy quality on the palate, with immense sweetness and that core of rich, oily fruit tugged along by crunchy acidity. Lovely balance and length, and really excellent – possibly deserves an outstanding rating at this price. Berry Brothers & Rudd, £8.75

under twenty
St Andrews (Australia) Chardonnay 1998
This is the premium label of Wakefield winery from the Clare Valley, South Australia. Amongst an impressive portfolio tasted recently with their winemaker and Director, Mitchell Taylor, this Chardonnay really appealed to me with its honeyed, rich, quite lush nose of orange amd melon fruit, with floral nuances. There is a toasty layer of French oak, and a soft, ground almond nuttiness. On the palate it is rich and textured, with a sweet mid-palate of broad, but fresh peach and tropical fruit. Cox’s orange pippin and herbal elements add intrigue, all sharpened by good acidity. Again, that layering of honey and toast adds a seductive note on the finish.
Raeburn Fine Wines (0131 343 1159), Everywine, £16.99.

sky’s the limit
Pol Roger Champagne cuvée Winston Churchill 1990
Savoury, lightly-oxidised, bruised pear and apple nose. Lovely downy, peach-skin notes and a definite nutty undertone. Soft, rolling, persistent mousse. Palate is gripped by gorgeous, quite fat, grapefruit and citrus fruit. Really scintillating on the tongue, with mineral and complex citrus acidity tautly-balanced against all sorts of nutty and peach kernel qualities. Fantastically long, where notes of ginger and toast emerge. Breathtaking and surely destined for legendary status. Absolutely outstanding.  Berry Brothers & Rudd, £75.00