(2019) From an interesting collaboration between the top Pessac-Léognan estate of Domaine de Chevalier and Stephane Derenencourt, this is mostly Merlot with 30% of Cabernet Franc, so presumably from 'right bank' vineyards given that blend. It's a deeply spiced and plummy wine, offering instantly appealing depth of aroma, touched with cedary olive character, but mostly about the plummy Merlot fruit. In the mouth the silky texture, soft creamy tannins and weight of mid-palate fruit flow across the tongue, before a bright finish where pert acidity and a bit of structure pull the wine through to a long finish. Approachable Bordeaux, but more substance than many at a similar price.
(2019) You know, for its price, this really is a particularly good Bordeaux, 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, from chalky and clay soils. Bold purple in colour, there's a refined graphite note on the nose, just a hint of cedar, and plenty of ripe fleshy red and black fruits. In the mouth the pleasure continues, a lovely dark stripe of bittersweet liquorice underpinning plum and pulpy red berries, spices, acid and tannin all harmonious in the finish. It feels as if it will cellar for a few years too. A little star at under £10.
(2019) Classic white Bordeaux from the Pessac-Léognan Cru of Graves, this is Sauvignon Blanc, fermented and aged in barrel. From a very good year - the third warmest since 1900 - with above-average monthly temperatures. The oak is very discreet, giving just a sheen of almond nuttiness to the cool orchard fruit and lemon, a little hint of something like soft, leafy herbs in the background. In the mouth pure and sweet fruit drives this, quite a full texture, a lemon and mint freshness, and tapers to a fine point in the finish. It is a discreet, elegant and understated style with nothing too showy, but beautifully done. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) At 33-years old, in a more or less perfect place for me, pouring with still a healthy ruby at the core and the nose absolutely à pointe with some herbal Cabernet character, but loads of precise graphite and black fruit and a waft of rose-like perfume somewhere in the background. In the mouth still rich and substantial: a wine that has shrugged off its three decades, still a hint of muscularity and taut athleticism, but there is a softening touch to the fruit, a little Muscavado sugar caramel, but lovely, lovely resolution of the tannins and acids into a harmonious and quite long finish. Could it be a tad more complex? Maybe, but I'm very happy to have one more bottle left in the cellarfor drinking over the next few years.
(2018) A delightful and classic Sauternes, made for C&B by Château 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) A blanc de Noirs from Bordeaux, using typical grapes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this rosé crémant is made in the traditional method with a second fermentation in bottle. Pale peach in colour, there's a fine strawberry sherbet character on the nose, just a little echo of creaminess too. In the mouth the sweet ripeness of the summer berry fruit is very pleasing, an orangy tang of acidity adding a gentle but precise freshness to the finish.
(2018) This Crémant is made from an alliance of Cabernet Franc and Semillon - certainly an unusual blend of unexpected varieties. Made by the traditional method, it is also on offer at just £8.99 from Ocado until 1st January 2019 - a big factor in making it my choice. Crisp, sherbetty and instantly light and appealing, it could not be more different from the Larmandier-Bernier Champagne tasted alongside, akin to a rather serious Prosecco, with a little more yeastiness, but bags of citrus and apple fruit and a long, clean finish. Dry, not lean or mean, but tightly-drawn, it is a fine inexpensive fizz for the party season at its offer price. One of my two sparkling wine picks for Christmas 2018, watch the video for more information.
(2018) In Bordeaux, 1985 is my favourite vintage bar none. Yes, '61 may be more legendary, '49 more revered, but I have bought and drunk a lot of '85s over the past 30 years with unfailing success in the wines being both sumptuous and structured, in an immensely pleasurable vintage. This Margaux may be the pinnacle, a heavenly depth of graphite and cedar-touched ripe, but not overripe, black fruits, the lightest nuances of game and vanilla, and just a gorgeous, ethereal Margaux perfume. In the mouth the tannins are now resolved of course, but the fine-grained, supple nature is lovely and the fresh acidity gives this an alert, still energetic character at 33 years of age. Wonderful fruit, again just touched with cedar and game on the palate, but a depth of blackcurrant and edged by black plum and chocolate bittersweet notes. Long, not fading in the glass after an hour, and possibly with substantial time ahead for well-cellared bottles.
(2018) Introduced by Château Suduiraut a few vintages ago, 'Lions' is not so much a second wine, as a contemporary alternative to the slightly richer, age-worthy traditional Sauternes. Still made from Suduiraut's own immaculate vineyards of botrytis-affected Semillon (with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc), the glowing golden colour leads on to a glorious nose, soaring from the glass with ripe apricot, honey and glycerine, a marmalade richness following through to the palate, a little biscuity rounding of vanilla from its time in oak, then lemon rind, zesty acidity to cut through the rich texture. It does have freshness and directness, making it very appealing now, but I'd wager there's cellaring potential too. Price quoted for a half bottle. Watch the video for food-matching ideas and more information.
(2018) Blaye is an appellation of Bordeaux's 'right bank', and typically this is predominantly Merlot, with 5% each of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon too. Reduced to £13.49 at time of review. It's a plummy and silky expression of Bordeaux, a little coffee and cream, dense fleshy plum and a light pencil-shaving note too. In the mouth the creaminess of the fruit, plush tannin and texture add up to a fairly straightforward, but nevertheless delicious and balanced glass of quality claret drinking well now.