I was contacted recently by a new online retailer called winehound.co.uk. They asked if I would like to sample the selection of their wines featured below. In fact Wine Hound has been around since 2007, but until recently its business was supplying wines to UK hotels and restaurants. The company now supplies over 450 lines to thousands of customers from its base close to Heathrow Airport. Now available to retail buyers via their web site, they aim to deliver all orders within 48 hours. Orders over £100 are delivered free, otherwise a delivery charge of £5.95 per case applies.
Azabache, Rioja Crianza Organic 2008, Spain
This organically certified wine is made from 60% Tempranillo, 30% Garnacha and 10% Graciano grown in Rioja Baja. It pours a deep crimson red from its screwcapped bottle, and the nose offers overtly fruity aromas, rich with Christmas cake spice, cherry and some prune and plum. The oak adds a touch of vanilla and cedarwood in the background. On the palate it is creamy and sweet, the richness of the black berry fruit again the driving force, with plenty of texture and concentration and a nice, spicy support from the tannins, oak and acidity. A biggish Rioja at 14% ABV, and a very nice one too. 90/100. £10.95
Rietvallei, Shiraz / Petit Verdot / Viognier 2009, South Africa
From the hot Robertson area, this is mostly Shiraz with Petit Verdot (20%) and Viognier (5%). Intense and dark in colour, the nose has a subtle spice and pepper, very classic, very cedary and earthy in feel, with a solid underpinning of savoury black fruits. On the palate the Viognier – or something – gives a slightly surprising peach and orange brightness, the flavours light and custardy, medium-bodied and nimble. The sweet blackberry fruit, oak spice and an edge of tartness begins to shape the wine a little more in the finish, though it stays remarkable light on its feet for a 14% Shiraz blend. 89/100. £10.95
Finca Sophenia, Reserve Malbec 2011, Argentina
Finca Sophenia has been a name to watch out for in recent years, with Michel Rolland consulting and some very interesting vineyards in prime spots of Tupangato in Mendoza. The handsome and heavy bottle indicates the ambitions, and the deep black/purple colour indicates the youth and concentration of the wine. It has the elegant violet and cracked pepper lift that is always welcome in Malbec, as well as spicy, chocolate, Agen prune and fig notes. On the palate there is a delicious surge of ripe, plummy and full black fruit, very sweet and full, but with the tart edge of plum and cherry skin acidity and tight tannins adding some tension. A lovely wine, intense and powerful at 14.5% ABV, but long and balanced too. A big mouthful of wine this, and a bottle that should cellar. 90-91/100. £12.95