(2018) A stunning, stunning dry Madeira, at 60 years old and what a treat to taste one of the worldâ€™s great wines with surely another 50 years ahead of it. Shellac and walnut notes lead on to a bone-dry palate of Seville orange that has searing intensity. Oh, for a bowl of salted almonds with this contemplative wine.
(2018) Tasted alongside the Blandy's 1968 vintage Sercial, a bone-dry but absolutely magnificent sister Madeira, this was just stunning at 71 years of age. Nut brown in colour, the nose a soulful, burnished depth of walnut and Seville orange marmalade, toffee and dark Agen prune notes along with spices and tobacco. With just over 100g/l of residual sugar it is sweet without being cloying, with classic Madeira firmness and vitality, magically tangy and bright with electric acidity perfectly balanced against the sumptuous spices and dark, tea-steeped dark fruit flavours. Wines like this almost defy scores and descriptions. What a treat if you can afford it (price for a half bottle).
(2018) In search of a moderately-priced wine to recommend for Christmas dinner 2019, I tried various rather disappointing Pinot Noir wines at around the Â£10 - Â£12 mark, but this unpretentious CÃ´tes du RhÃ´ne hit the spot - and is only Â£8.99 on Majestic's familiar 'Mixed six' pricing. Based on Grenache blended with typical local varieties like Syrah and MourvÃ¨dre, it has a buoyant, cherry and herb-filled nose with lots of lift and brightness. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and softly approachable despite 14% alcohol, but there's a creaminess and chocolate-touched depth before that fresh red fruit character and nip of rustic tannin kick in. Gentle enough for roast turkey, but fine for goose or even roast beef if that's your festive choice.
(2018) SilÃ¨ne is the legendary tutor of the Greek god Bacchus, and his likeness was found on an ancient clay seal found in one of the Paul Mas vineyards, a copy of which strikingly covers the entire front of this imposing bottle of Chardonnay from its Languedoc homeland, Limoux.Â The nutty, slightly marmalade-like and spicy richness of the nose immediately tells you this has been aged in quality oak barrels, then the palate is really very beautifully composed: crisp, fresh and taut orchard fruits and lemon are backed up by some peach, toast and Brazil nut buttery fatness, but the clean, zesty citrus finish gives great cut and thurst through the richness. A perfect and stylish partner to roast poultry.
(2018) From Aconcagua Costa, the more coastal area of this central Chilean appellation, there's a twiggy, smoky note to this and a touch of sulphur on opening too, but the palate does go on to reveal a finer red fruit character, broadening to a fairly broad base of smokiness and plum, and a decent finish.
(2018) Pinot Noir from the Pfalz and limestone marl soils (kalkmergel). The nose has some plum and cherry, maybe even a touch of raspberry, before a palate that seems rather under-fruited; against the soft oak of the background there is some sweetness and decent acidity, but it is rather short and lacking a bit of charm. I couldn't honestly recommend this, even with two pounds off in Majestic's 'mix six' pricing.
(2018) A dry Riesling from the limestone soils of the Pfalz, a warmer region than the Mosel or Rheingau, that gives this a certain fat, though it majors on lime-like fruitiness and citrus again in the acidity. It's Riesling expressing the fruitier and more vibrant side of the variety, crisply enjoyable though with litte in the way of 'mineral' character.
(2018) This eight-year-old Muscat from the Riverina region is a classic style, sweet, dark and sumptuous fruit is harvested very ripe, a little brandy added to fortify it, as in Port wine, before its long, long ageing in barrel. It is flooded with coffee, walnut and sweet, plump raisin aromas, but that lifted floral note of the Muscat is in there too. Thick and luxurious on the palate, there's loads of sweetness here, like sticky-toffee pudding in a glass, but underpinned by that sumptuous chocolate and coffee into a long finish, very nicely balance by a cherry-fresh acidity. Price for 37.5cl half bottle. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) A delightful and classic Sauternes, made for C&B by ChÃ¢teau Giraud, a blue-blooded estate of the Sauternes aristocracy. A blend of Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc, it has the rich glycerine and honey aromatics of gentle Noble Rot, a touch of curry leaf and raisin, but plenty of apricotty fruit. Not too heavy on the palate, the juiciness of citrus cuts the richer, sweeter flavours and texture, to give this lovely presence, and clean, fresh finish. Price is for a 37.5cl half bottle. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) Noval's late-bottled vintage Port comes from a single vineyard and, unlike cheaper LBV's, the unfiltered wine will cellar and improve over many years - though its long ageing in cask also means it will drink well from the day of release. This is much more vinous, cherry-scented and immediately dark and firm on the nose compared to the Muscat tasted alongside, though it does have some little violetty floral aspects. On the palate the stripe of liquorice and rasp of plum skins, as well as quite definite tannins, all gives an edge to the sweet and juicy cherry fruit and cocoa richness of the wine. A beauty and on offer at Â£17.95 for a full bottle in Ocado until 1st January 2019. Use the wine-searcher link for other stockists. Watch the video for more information.