September 2008 – Vincent Dampt, Cape Grace, Fontodi

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

under a fiver
Cape Grace (South Africa) Semillon Chenin Vineyard 41 2008
Classic chenin nose of crunchy red apples, backed up by a very zesty lemon character. The palate is exuberantly fruity, with lots of verve and dash, and a clean, precise core of acidity that shimmers through the finish. Good value this, in an honest and likeable little wine in a screwcapped bottle. £4.79, Sainsbury’s

under a tenner
Asda Extra Special Cava (Spain) Vintage 2005
Made for Asda by Cordoniu, this was a bit of a star for me when I tasted through a dozen Asda fizzes recently. It has lots of pungent, aromatic herbal and autolysis notes with bags of character. Champagne-lovers beware that these are distinctly Cava charcteristics from the indigenous grapes Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo with herbs and sour lemon fruit flooding across the palate. Lovely stuff. £5.97, Asda.

under twenty
Domaine Vincent Dampt (France) Chablis 2007
Monsieur Dampt is certainly not one of Chablis’ traditional old guard. He may have been born into a long line of winemakers, but he is a young and outward looking vigneron who made wine in New Zealand before returning to his Burgundy roots. perhaps that helps give just a hint of opulence and fleeting glimpse of something exotic to the dry apple character of the nose. The palate, however, is the essence of “steely”, with a searing core of acidity, with a lean, sprinter’s framework. Mineral and lemon acidity slices through the finish in a wonderful wine that will also cellar and gain a little weight and honey. £11.99, Corney & Barrow.

sky’s the limit
Fontodi (Italy) Chianti Classico Riserva ‘Vigna del Sorbo’ 2004
In a week spent visiting Chianti Classico there is no doubt Fontodi was a stand-out estate across its range of wines, but best of all for me was this outstanding single vineyard Chianti, made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. All of the fruit comes from vines that are around 35-years-old. It has a beguiling fragrance, with a touch of smoky, gamy, tobacco to concentrated dark berry fruits. The fruit on the palate is wonderfully buoyant and fresh, with a really bittersweet, racy freshness, yet plushness too. Agen prune darkness and swirling, exotic Sandalwood fills in on the finish. I also tasted the 1999 which was in its prime, and this wine needs time – five years or more – to show at its best. What a wonderful, wonderful wine. Around £31.50