£63.67, 14.8%, Desoutter & James
Some may baulk at the hefty, body-builder bottle, but there's no denying the balance, freshness and sheer class of this polished Carmenère from Chile. It's ripe, textured and not remotely vegetal, with fine tannins, subtle use of oak and notes of mint, cassis and damson. The sort of wine that makes you see Carmenère in a new light.
An ambitious - and ambitiously priced - single vineyard blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the producer that continues to lead the English sparkling wine revolution. The bubbles are particularly fine here, the low dosage beautifully judged, the acidity refreshing and citrus-edged, while the bready, leesy, autolysis-influenced flavours linger tantalisingly on the tongue. Classy stuff.
£54, 21%, The Wine Society, Gereral Wine Company, h2Vin, Tanners, Soho Wine Supply
Tawny Port doesn't get a whole lot better than this incredible elixir of a wine. Fig, Christmas cake and rancio notes combine beautifully in this savoury/sweet delight. The fortifiication is perfectly judged, while the finish lingers enticingly on the tongue.
£52.99, 14%, Armit Wines
Sun & Moon is the top Pinot from Seresin (made in this instance from the Raupo Creek vineyard) with a price tag to match. It is consistently among the best New Zealand reds and that's the case here with this outstanding 2010, which is maturing with grace and elegance. Concentrated, savoury, yet also refreshing this combines structure with succulence, sustained by acidity and not afraid of tannin. A wine that will age for another ten years.
£80-£100, 12%, Widely available
A blend of 20 wines from ten different vintages, some of which are 15 years old, Krug's non-vintage blend is one of a kind. It's rich, complex and palate coating, with small bubbles, savoury, umami notes, hints of hazelnut and honey and a dry, refeshing palate. The kind of Champagne that works extremely well with food rather than as an aperitif.
What an incredible bottle of wine. Sybille Kuntz is better known for her dry than sweet styles, but this shows that she's equally adept at both. This comes from mostly ungrafted vineyards planted in the 1920s in Niederberg-Helden. It's an exotic wine all right, but the tropical fruit flavours of pineapple and mango are tempered by acidity and extract. A Riesling that lingers tantalisingly on the palate.
€25 (37.5cl), 14.5%,
Savoury, spicy, complex, mature, espresso notes with some sun-dried rancio complexity and Tokaj like acidity. Hazelnut and dried fruits, with complexity that builds on the palate. Complex, Sherry-like notes. Superb.
Ex ex stands exceptional experiences, apparently, with this being the ninth release under this label. Aromatic, alcoholic and eucalyptus-perfumed, this is a revolutionary blend of Sangiovese and Nero d’Avola with bright acidity, medium tannins and good structure, with vanilla oak adding an extra layer of flavour.
€40 , 15%,
A rich, slightly figgy blend of Syrah and Grenache with spicy oak, firm tannins and notes of rosemary and thyme. Rich and dense, with a slightly drying finish. The alcohol is a little marked on the finish.
POA, 13.3%, Dynamic Wines
For me this is the crowning glory of the Gut Oggau range. Single vineyard Blaufränkisch is left on its stems and stalks for 6 weeks, resulting in a structured, complex, yet impressively balanced wine. "Hot", rubber-tyre character to the nose, very focused ripe yet elegant red fruit. The finish lasts and lasts, staying fresh and slightly saline to the very end.