November 2005 – Capcanes, Foillard, Clos de L’Obac

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
Terrazze della Luna (Italy) Novello di Teroldego 2005
Just as we hit Beaujolais Nouveau season, here’s joyous little red wine from Trentino in the far north of Italy made in the Beaujolais style, but delivering a welterweight of sweet fruit and concentration that most Nouveau simply fails to muster. Made from the indigenous Teroldego, grape this wine comes from the quality CAVIT co-op (see my in-depth profile of CAVIT), and pours a paintbox crimson colour. The nose is wonderful kirsch-like and cherry fruited, with bubblegummy sweetness and little carbonic maceration notes of banana and rose-hip. On the palate it has lovely fruit; blackcurrant cough sweets mixed with fresh Morello cherries, with enough acid and tannic bite to sharpen the picture as it persists to a juicy, balanced finish. Delightful and different. £5.00 – £5.50,,, Amps, Corkscrew Wines, D. Byrne, John Stephenson, Wine Dept, Winebuffs.

under a tenner
Cellers de Capçanes (Spain) Mas Collet 2003
I’ve just returned from a few days in the northeast of Spain, where the hugely expensive DO Priorato are surrounded by more modestly priced appellations, including Monsant. One of the leading lights of Monsant is the super-Co-op of Capçanes, where a fantastic range of good value wines is Produced. Mas Collet is 35% Garnacha, 25% Carinena, 25% Cabernet and 15% Tempranillo, aged for nine months in American and French barrels. It has a lovely rounded, plump, rich fruit on the nose with a strawberry and rasberry brightness, but plenty of depth too. The palate has very good quality of firm, fresh fruit, with savoury tannins and plenty of cherry acidity. Lovely richness on the mid-palate here, though it does stay fresh and crisp on the finish. Excellent beginner’s Priorat if you like, at a fraction of the price. £6.79, Waitrose.

under twenty
Foillard (France) Morgon Côte de Py 2004
Foillard is a quality obsessed producer from the Beaujolais Cru of Morgon who has been very widley and highly praised for producing some of the best wines of this region, from an ancient vineyard, using totally natural methods. The bottle is striking, with a thick wax covering over the cork (I pulled the cork straight through it after two minutes trying to chip it away with a knife!), but the wine is even more so. It has a beautifully refined perfume of cherry and pomegranite fruit, with herbal, coriander and spice notes, a nervous streak of minerality and some graphite and schist. On the palate it is elegant and very grown-up, with bittersweet qualities of fruit, tannin and earthy minerality, and a brilliantly focused, linear appeal that is the antithises of bigger, blowsier wines. Oustanding stuff. £12.75.

sky’s the limit
Costiers de Siurana (Spain) Clos de L’Obac 2001
Amongst 25 or so wines I tasted from the Priorat DO I found several outstanding examples, but also a few that seemed unbalanced to me, with too much alcohol (typically 14.5 – 15.5% is the norm here). Amongst the undoubtedly great wines was this blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Carineña at a relatively modest 14% ABV. From a single vineyard, this has a big, soft, approachable nose, with coffee and meaty, savoury notes, a touch of dried blood and plenty of sweet bramble and blackberry fruit. On the palate there is a really dry tannic backgroiund, that adds a deep, dark edge to the soft, sweet, mouthfilling black fruit. Lovely texture here, and the coffee and savoury oak and spice melds beautifully with the acidity in the silky finish.