October 2007 – Artazuri, Ferrer-Ribiere, Heidsieck, Artadi

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 six pounds
Artazuri (Spain) Garnacha 2006
Our ‘Sky’s The Limit’ choice for Wine of the Month is from the top Rioja estate of Artadi. I couldn’t resist also including one of Artadi’s wines in this cheapest category too, only this one comes from Artadi’s other estate in Navarra, just east of Rioja. Six months in older French oak barrels. Tank sample, to be bottled in April 2007. Very bold red colour, with a distinct pink rim. Bold, crunchy, very haunting Garnacha fragrance, with plenty of bright, schisty raspberry fruit and tiny notes of liquorice and cherries and mint. Lovely finesse on the palate, and the fruit profile follows through, with lovely structure, and plenty of bold, crunchy fruit and terrific acidity. Real tang, vibrancy and length here. Most impressive. 88/100. Around £6.00

under a tenner
Ferrer-Ribière (France) Empreinte du Temps 2005
Domaine Ferrer-Ribière is a strictly biodynamic estate in the Roussillon, run by Denis Ferrer and Bruno Ribière, that makes a whole bunch of fascinating and often quirky wines. This comes from a parcel of 128-year-old Carignan vines, and is made by carbonic maceration. I loved the 2004 vintage of this wine, and this 2005 has a similar, perhaps slightly more dense, dark, concentrated blackcurrant and berry fruit. But there’s a lovely blue/black glossiness with hints of Parma violet and white pepper. The palate has a firm, juicy structure, with a massive, dry concentration of fruit. There’s a liquoricy grip of tannins too, and along with a taut acid structure, this is a serious, complex wine with layered complexity that unravels slowly. £9.15, Yapp Brothers.

under twenty
Heidsieck & Co Monopole Green Top Demi-Sec Champagne
Demi-Sec, or ‘half-dry’ Champagnes are relatively rare beasts, but it is a style I really enjoy on the right occasion or with the right food – bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese for brunch is one example, though this wine has the sweetness to pair up successfully with anything from lighter, fruitier desserts, to foie gras. A steady stream of very small bubbles rises through this light, gold-coloured wine. The nose has warming scents of toast and a touch of toffee, as well as forward, ripe fruit. On the palate the mousse is rolling and mouth-filling, and the immediately sweet rush of peach and strawberry fruit is expansive and generous, with an orangy adding some bite, before that toffeed, tobacco and toast reappears on the finish. Hardly a subtle or complex Champagne, but delicious, joyous and excellent in its way. £19.99, Morrisons.

sky’s the limit
Artadi (Spain) v2004
Trodden by foot, the grapes for this wine come from 15 plots of vineyard in Rioja, all over 50-years-old. Very vibrant crimson/black. Cedar, truffle and a nice suggestion of gamy, bloody character are immediately appealing. A rich bramble and Autumnal berry fruitiness comes through, with complex background notes of violet, mocha and hazelnut. On the palate there’s a vanillin and rich cedary character, but the intense, concentrated and glossy black fruit powers through. This has a background sheen of that cedary oak, but spice, liquorice and woodsmoke is alluring and mouth-filling. Beautiful wine. 95/100. Around £45.00