My favourite wines tasted during the month, in four price brackets.
under six pounds
Paparuda, Pinot Noir 2011, Romania
Make no mistake, this might just be the UK’s best value Pinot. From Carmele Recas, a Romanian winery I visited a couple of year ago, it has such a lovely, authentically smoky aromatic nose with cherry and a touch of red liquoice, and woodland notes too that are so very Pinot. Gorgeous fruit, edged with smoky oak tones, lovely acid. What a cracking Pinot Noir at the price. 87/100. £5.99, Wine Rack.
under ten pounds
Réserve Combes, Saint-Chinian 2011, France
This might not be the most earth-shattering of southern French reds, but when I tasted it I was just in the mood for a wine like this: fruity, modern and approachable, yet with a savoury edge and real energy in the mouth that comes only with natural concentration and carefully balanced winemaking. A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache from high altitude vineyards and 25- to 40-year-old vines, it has a touch of earthiness, spice and bloody quality to pepper and red fruit on the nose. On the palate it is concentrated without being heavy, fruity without being jammy, and spicy without being oaky. A food wine with easy-drinking appeal. 87/100. £7.49,
under twenty pounds
Graham’s, Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007, Portugal
Vintage Ports spend only a short time in cask before being bottled as youthful, vibrantly purple wines that can go on to mature in bottle for decades. Late Bottled Vintages also come from a single year, but are aged in casks for up to six years and are ready to drink as soon as they are bottled. A blend of traditional varieties, this has abundant, kirsch-like fruit, nutmeg, prunes and a touch of liquorice in the quite complex nose. In the mouth it is a wine to sip and savour (with 20% ABV), its sweetness nicely offset by juicy acidity and that heat of alcohol. Small sips as an after dinner drink or with Christmassy desserts or hard cheeses will reward with quite a chocolaty richness developing and those subtle nutty and spice notes in the finish. 88/100. £13.22, Asda, Booths, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose.
sky’s the limit
Domaine François Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet 2010, France
What a brilliant white Burgundy this is from the exceptional 2010 vintage and a winemaker on top form – several cuvées at the C&B tasting showed well. It has fabulous aromatics with a soaring, nutty nose, floral notes flitting in and out and with an apple-peel scented richness. Lovely palate too, so precise, so firm and auoritative yet with juicy and succulent fruit and a shimmering, long finish. Superb and what a Christmas treat this would be. 93/100. £34.75, Corney & Barrow.