November 2007 – Clos de Caillou, Hecula, Pesquera, Long-Depaquit

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my magazine columns, 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 seven pounds
Bodegas Castaño (Spain) Hécula 2004
I haven’t done the analysis, but at £6.49 this wine, from Bodegas Castaño in Yecla, south-east Spain, is probably the world’s cheapest wine to regularly achieve scores in the 90s from super-critic Robert Parker. This 2004 vintage (91-points) is another tremendous wine. Made from 100% Monastrell, otherwise known as Mourvèdre, it is aged half in tank and half in French oak barriques. There’s a wonderful purity of silky black fruits on the nose: the sweet, essence of damson plum and black cherry, with a wrapping of delicate vanilla and all sorts of subtle nuances of violets, spices, game and earth. On the palate it is filled with fruit, yet there is an immediate sense of structure and concentration too, with ripe, smooth and spicy tannins and a tang of cherry acidity. This wine is layered, with spices and creamy oak building on the mid-palate, and represents astonishing value for money. £6.49, Averys.

under a tenner
Domaine Long-Depaquit (France) Chablis 2005
There’s a little touch of mealiness on the nose of this wine from the much-improved negociant Albert Bichot, but this is a classic Chablis, with aromas of fresh, crisp apple and plenty of stony minerality soon dominating. There’s a little touch of orange too, and a certain lemon zest quality. On the palate this is beautifully cool and poised, with really expressive apple fruit and a certain pithy dryness to the acidity. Lees-ageing gives some richness to the texture, but the crisp, precise white fruit, citrus pith and mineral edge keeps the whole picture sharply focused. Lovely generic Chablis. £9.50, Four Vintners, Soho Wine Supplies, see all stockists on

under twenty
Alejandro Fernández (Spain) Pesquera Tinto 1994
Cellared by me for 10 years, this 1994 Pesquera was an absolute joy. Still plenty of ruby colour at the core of the wine, with just a little bricking at the rim. The nose is just beautiful, with little gamy, animal notes but mostly just a deep, velvety layering of cedar and plush, dark berry fruit. Spice and tobacco is there too, in a complex aromatic profile. On the palate the wine is perfect: the fruit is rich and sweet, flowing over the tongue with real intensity, whilst the tobacco and coffee richness of tannins and oak add a weight and breadth, without this medium-bodied wine becoming heavy. The tannins are very refined and supple, and the cherryish acidity is polished and beautifully integrated with the fruit. With length and terrific poise, this is a brilliant little wine that will still only cost £15 or so in the current vintage.

sky’s the limit
Le Clos de Caillou (France) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1999
This super-expensive and collectable Reserve cuvée of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Clos de Caillou is but a baby, and tasting it in November alongside a mature 1985 CmdP from Châateau de Beaucastel emphasised that drinking this nowreally is infanticdie. This wine needs five or six more years in the cellar before it will start to loosen up. Right now it is tight, with nutty, black liquorice and plenty of game and earth on the nose. A touch of brett that I do not object to in the least, and it is overflowing with lovely silky black fruit. The palate is tight and sinewy, still tightly wound with masses of spice and tight berry fruit. Lovely structure, with racy acidity and tight mineral and cherry acidity. A gorgeous baby this. £50+