(2021) Though Lambrusco's reputation has been poor in the UK since some very rough 70s examples, here's a low cost opportunity to give it a chance - and if you like the sound of it you should. It's a deep red, foamy wine with a touch of pink to the mousse, and offers scents and flavours that are basically Black forest gateau in a glass, all cherry and chocolate. Don't come looking for anything profound here, but with its sweetness nicely balanced by acidity, and just 8% alcohol, a lovely summer garden sipper, or with dark chocolate desserts that are not too sweet.
(2021) Firstly, a warning: in my bottle, and every bottle opened by the 12 tasters present, the deep red wine erupted explosively when opened, losing a quarter of the bottle - unfortunately over my oatmeal-coloured carpet. Whilst it may have been an amusing Zoom moment to see me and 11 luminaries including MWs and learned senior colleagues dripping in still fermenting juice, it really is a serious problem that for me makes this wine - based on this experience - impossible to recommend. It is made from Criolla Grande, fermented with natural yeasts under its crown-capped bottle, the Carbon dioxide of in-bottle fermenation captured and the wine sold undisgorged. There's an inky, plummy character, a touch of coal dust on the nose. On the palate there is a firm, bittersweet cherry fruit, some sweetness just to add a softening touch, but it is a relatively high-acid red style, reminding me a little of some sparkling red Vinho Verde made from Vinhão. What a shame there's an obvious defect in how this batch at least, was brought to market. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2019) A keen price in Sainsbury's for that Australian peculiarity, sparkling Shiraz. From the reliable de Bortoli, it is aged for only around six months in tank, but these wines are not about long lees exposure: with 17g/l of residual sugar it is designed to be an inexpensive crowd-pleaser. Deep, saturated red in colour, the nose is the melange of forest berries and chocolate that one expects from this genre, the palate exhibiting more of that dark, cocoa, berry and plum fruit. The sweetness sits against quite a bitter tannin and acid framework, and for me this really needs to be matched to some strong flavoured food - try a bittersweet chocolate dessert, or maybe even a powerful Indian curry.
(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.
(2017) From very old vines planted in 1919 on the Wendouree, made in the Clare and after four years in old barrels spends another 3 on lees in bottle. 26g/l dosage. Very aromatic and lifted, less of the chocolate of some, more floral and ripe black fruits, juicy blackberry, the palate has a touch of leather and spice, but has more than that chocolate and lush black fruitiness, the sweetness wonderfully tempered by the acid freshness and a touch of herbal character. A distinctive sparkling Shiraz.
(2016) Although sparkling red wines from Australia are not uncommon, to find one - made from Cabernet Franc - from the central Loire Valley in France is much more unusual. This is also demi-sec, or 'half dry', so after a nose of cocoa, mulberry, cassis and plum comes a just - just - off dry palate with racy red and black berry fruit and a lovely cherry-skin freshness of acidity. Unusual and at time of writing down to £9.99 as part of a mixed half dozen. Watch the video for full review and food-matching ideas.
(2011) A 50/50 blend, this blanc des noirs has a pale coppery colour and delightfully subtle toffee note, a little herbal bite and plenty of Cox's Pippin fruit. On the palate this has weight and texture, and plenty of fruit that is ripe, seeming slightly sweeter on the mid palate, but then finishing with lovely dry, savoury, waxy lemon and lime bite.
(2010) Lovely nose on this traditional method, sparkling red wine. Berry fruit is deep and rich with a more bloody, meaty, gamy depth than the still Vinhão. Quite a complex nose, little floral rose-hip nuances and lovely more of that bright cherry fruit and a touch of chocolate. On the palate the tannins are big, deep and meaty making this delightfully chewy, with the depth of cherry and chocolate, hinting at deep raisin flavours, is delicious. The acidity is perfect, but the support of those tannins and the creamy mousse adds lots of depth, breadth and substance.
(2008) Earthy, deep, a spice and cinnamon note with berry fruit. The fruit is quite grippy and full, with an edge of tannins to earthy red fruits and good acidity keeping this appearing dry yet fruity and crisp. Great fun.