October 2004 – Vina Real, Windy Peak, Rudera, FX Pichler

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
CVNE (Spain) Rioja Blanco Viña Real 2001
A bit of a cheat as this wine’s normal retail price is £6.99, but it is on offer at £4.99 when you buy two until January 31st. A lovely wine made from the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) it uses traditional white Rioja varieties in a thoroughly modern wine. It has masses going on on the nose, with vivid aromas of Jack Daniels whisky barrels, buttered toast, juicy nectarine and honey. On the palate it is honeyed again, with lots of richness and swetness, a palate of buttered popcorn and masses of unctuous, ripe stone fruit flavours. There is a pure lemony acidity that crackles through the finish. A terific value wine at its reduced price. Excellent. £4.99 Majestic

under a tenner
Windy Peak (Australia) Sangiovese 2003
This is a second label from well-known house of de Bortoli, produced from Sangiovese grown in the King Valley, Victoria. One of several Italianate wines beginning to emerge from Australia, it is also one of the best I have tasted so far. It has a tangy, vibrant nose with masses of cherry and kirsch, an underpinning blackcurrant richness and plenty of spice and cigar-box aromas. On the palate it has a raft of black fruits that coat the tongue in a thick carpet of flavour, with a fleshy texture and silky fruit quality. Richer than many Italian Sangioveses, it is extremely ripe and luscious, with sweet, fine tannins and powerful background acidity. Good structure here, though the overall impression is of full-on ripeness and fruit. Excellent. £6.99 Oddbins

under twenty
Rudera (South Africa) Chenin Blanc 2002
£12 is a lot to ask for a South African Chenin Blanc, but one sip of this wine will show why the premium is well deserved. I also tasted a Noble Late-Harvest sweet Chenin from this same estate that was mind-blowingly good (available from Domaine Direct) but this dry wine was a real eye opener. The nose is complex and intense, with waxy, honeyed, herbal notes and copious pear and apple fruit. It is intriguingly dense and powerful. On the palate it is full-bodied and really quite fat and chewy, like a dry Sauternes in some ways, though with masses of crunchy green apple fruit and a shimmering density of lime acidity. Glorious stuff that will age. Excellent. £11.99 Luvians, Domaine Direct

sky’s the limit
FX Pichler (Austria) Riesling Steinertal Smaragd 1999
I was delighted when Elisabeth Pichler attended superBOWL, my wine weekend in Glasgow in late October, to present a tasting of the wines made by her father and brother in their Wachau estate. The tasting was full of superb wines, but I have chosen this one as one of the very best on the day. It has a fantastically steely, mineral nose with a wild, herbal, anise and nettle character and an underlying hint of ripe stone fruits. On the palate there is a terrific density of greengage and yellow plum fruit that is crunchy and vivid, though a smoky, figgy richness lurks just beneath the surface. A lime-streaked, slaty edge and raft of crisp acidity punctuates the fruit and adds a savoury depth. This has lovely balance and precision as well as real brilliance of fruit, and should age beautifully. Excellent. About £27.50 Raeburn Fine Wines, Seckford Wines.