September 2007- Cono Sur, Pewsey Vale, Ilarria, Laroche

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 six quid
Cono Sur (Chile) Pinot Noir 2006
Chile is quietly but surely improving its Pinot Noir, finding new spots to the north and south of the main vine growing regions, often close to the Pacific coast, where the grape is producing increasingly convincing wines. Cono Sur’s inexpensive Pinot Noir has long heralded this potential, being an example of a fuller, riper, more alcoholic style of Pinot than is found in Burgundy, but one which has real fruit quality and delivers a hell of a lot for a very modest price. This 2006 continues in that tradition. Even with 14% alcohol it is far from a bruiser, the gamy, truffly scents of dried blood, mushrooms and damp vegetation fused with sweet vanilla and a rich berry fruit. On the palate a robust, chewy and dense fruitiness comes to the fore, with masses of spice and a huge dollop of smoky, charry oak flavour. But there is acidity here too, and beneath the rather obvious smoky fatness, there are enough nuances of game and leather, tobacco and soft strawberry pulp to keep this interesting. At its price, a star example of Pinot Noir. £5.99, Sussex Wine Co, Tesco, Waitrose, Majestic and widely available.

under a tenner
Pewsey Vale (Australia) Riesling 2006
Consistently a favourite of mine, winemaker Louisa Rose crafts this fine Riesling from selected parcels of grapes grown on the Pewsey Vale estate in the Eden Valley. The colour is a pale green/gold, and the nose is immediately alluring, marrying aromas of blossom, wax and minerals, with stony, schisty notes, to a fruitiness reminiscent of passionfruit and mango, but streaked with a vivid lime intensity. On the palate it is a very similar story, with that core of mineral, delicately salty and stony flavour cutting through expressive fruit, which is concentrated and intense on the mid-palate, with limpid suggestions of clear honey and nectarine juice but always given life and zest by mouth-watering citrus acidity. This is just delicious, beautifully made wine that can be drunk with total enjoyment now, or cellared for several years. £8.99, Oddbins Fine Wine, Free Run, Selfridges, Le Pont de la Tour, Reserve Wines, Berkmann, Everywine.

under twenty
Domaine Ilarria (France) Irouléguy Rouge 2004
This wine, a blend of 70% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, comes from Irouléguy in south-west France, not far from the Spanish border. This estate has very low yields (25 hl/ha) of hand-harvested, organically grown grapes, and the domaine is confident it will cellar for 10 years. It has a vivid crimson colour, and a beautiful nose, with soaring aromas of kirsch and violets, with a touch of chocolate and refined raspberry coming through. On the palate there is real concentration, with plenty of dry extract giving weight and grip on the palate. The dark, brooding fruit quality is married to decisive tannins and a fine, pure acid structure, and juicier, more forgiving black cherry and plum fruit starts to emerge on the finish. An impressive wine packed with character, that will certainly cellar well. £10.95, Yapp Brothers.

sky’s the limit
Domaine Laroche (France) Chablis Grand Cru Blanchots 2004
From vines planted in the 1960s, this Grand Cru Chablis sees 35% oak fermentation, but has a beautiful minerality with schist and stones, as well as a touch of gentle toast, and really intense concentration of lemon and lime fruit. Fantastic concentration on the palate, with intense green fig and lemon fruit. Doesn’t lose elegance, and stays fresh and vibrant into the finish.  £31.50 from Bibendum