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
Famille Grassa (France) Tariquet Blanc 2004
I just love little wines like this blend of Colombard and three “Blancs”, Ugni, Sauvignon and Chenin, from the Vin de Pays de Côtes de Gascogne in south-west France. Made by Yves Grassa in the family’s state of the art winery (which has the largest pressing facility in Europe) it is the essence of crisp, fruity, loveable sipping wine that still has the acidity and balance to match with many foods, especially seafood and grilled fish dishes. The nose is filled with peach, blossom and zippy citrus notes, whilst the palate is awash with lemony fruit and a sweetening suggestion of ripe, juicy pear and peach, all swept along by crisp acidity. Not complex or difficult, just delightful. Somerfield £4.99
under a tenner
Valle Pradinhos (Portugal) Branco 2004
This highly unusual wine comes from Trás-os-Montes in the north of Portugal, following the Douro river, and is a blend of Gewürztraminer and Riesling. Whilst theat may sound like a weird, modern attempt at planting alien grapes in Portuguese soil, this family estate vineyards were established in 1913. It has a powerfully aromatic nose, with all sorts of floral, herby, and vividly exotic fruit notes, and a core of lime. On the palate it is crisp, yet full-bodied, with hints of an oily, luchee and mango juicy texture and ripeness, but all tempered by citrus and stony, mineral dryness. An intriguing wine as it develops in the mouth, finishing with orange pith, a touch of spice, but plenty of fruit. £7.99 Luvians Bottleshops.
Henri Badoux (Switzerland) AOC Aigle les Murailles 2004
This wine from the Chablais region comes from one of the most respected Swiss producers, Henri Badoux. It is from a vineyard on some of the steepest valley slopes, where a micro-climate ensures a long ripening season. Composed of 100% of the white grape Chasselas, it has a pale straw/gold colour and a subtle, mineral and gunflint nose, though hints of apricot and richer, peachy fruit peek through. On the palate this is concentrated and rich, with lots of grippy fruit skin qualities: like orange peel and pear skins, and a lovely hint of honey before taut mineral acidity powers through. Excellent. £16.50 Nick Dobson
sky’s the limit
Cave Spring Cellar (Canada) Riesling Icewine 2002
I spent six days touring the wineries of The Niagara Peninsula in September, a beautiful region on the south shore of Lake Ontario, where ice wine has become a huge success. This is a region where mid-winter temperatures of -25C are not uncommon, so achieving the -10 or so needed to harvest ice wine presents no difficulty. Many icewines are made from the Vidal cross, which gives huge, impossibly luscious sweet wines, but for me the Rieslings, which are more expensive and more difficult to make, have a much more thrilling acidity and edge. This has a superb nose of lemon meringue-pie, honey and lots of juicy melon and quince. The palate is scintillating, and shot through with wonderful verve and glacial, lemony fruit coated with honey. The balance is superb and the finish endless. The 2003 is just as good. £28.95 per 37.5cl. Berry Bros.