October 2009 – Royal Tokaji, Argento, Fontana Candida, l’Arlot

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my magazine columns or TV show, or they may be wines from a recent tasting that hasn’t yet been written-up.

under six quid
Argento, Cool Climate Pinot Grigio 2009, Argentina
Argento is an interesting brand, created as a joint venture between UK wine agency Bibendum Wines and the top Argentinean house of Catena Zapata. Today, I believe Bibendum are sole – or very much the majority – owners, though the wines are still made by the Catena team, through at a separate facility in Mendoa. When I first tasted this wine on a visit to Argentina in 2004 I thought it was one of the best in Argento’s very quaffable basic range (there are Reservas too), and this 2009 edition is on song: the nose is beautifully expressive, like a big bowl of ripe, juicy pears, with light floral and herbal touches. Nicely punchy fruit too, with more life and vivacity than many an Italian example of the ubiquitous PG. £5.99, in Majestic.

under a tenner
Fontana Candida, Frascati Superiore ‘Vigneto Santa Teresa’ 2008, Italy
This wine, a blend of 30% Malvasia del Lazio, 30% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Trebbiano and 10% Greco, was tasted at the winery and has been chosen here not only because it is a very fine wine from a selected vineyard parcel in the locality of Santa Teresa, but because I also tasted the 1997 and was stunned by how beuatifully this wine had aged over a decade. This doesn’t have the immediate freshness and floral zing of the some Frascati wines, but has more herbal and mineral quality. The palate has a hint of sweeter, riper and more peachy fruit, with plenty of apple and citrus cut and acidity, and a gently bitter almond finish. Persistent and concentrated, and makes up in intensity what it loses in aromatics. Fascinating stuff. Around £7 – £8.

under twenty
The Royal Tokaji Áts Cuvée Late Harvest 2007, Hungary
This 50cl bottle of late-harvested Furmint, with a modest 9.5% alcohol, and an equally modest price tag for a wine of this quality. Lighter and racier than the fully Botrytised Tokajis, it has a lovely nose, laden with honey and an unctuous, figgy quality. The palate has delightfully crisp, punchy orange fruit and acidity, with deliciously sweet fruit punch and tropical overtones. This would be fantastic with some good vanilla ice cream too. £10.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, or £9.85 by the case.

sky’s the limit
Domain de l’Arlot Romanée St Vivant Grand Cru 2004, France
Tasted in a line-up of 2004 Burgundies, this wine stood out head and shoulders above some other big names and appellations. 2004 was a difficult year in red Burgundy, with many wines showing some under-ripe character. But not this, which is totally harmonious and together on the nose, with nice integration of oak with the ripe, dusty cherry fruit. The most fruit-forward of the wines, but very classy. Lovely oak. The palate has really beautiful fruit too. There’s a seam of tight black fruit, fine gravelly tannins and lovely finesse. My wine of the flight quite easily, which I score 95/100.