May Wine Reviews
£25, 14%, The Wine Society
This impressive Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the foothills of the Andes rather than the flatter expanses of the Maipo Valley and it shows in the quality and definition of the wine. It's a dense, compact, ageworthy red with rich flavours of plum, cassis and blackberry, sweet, toasty oak, structured tannins and excellent concentration. Built to last, it should develop further complexity over the next five to eight years.
I was sent this wine direct from France, so I don't have a UK stockist for it, but it surely won't be long before someone imports it, because it's one of the best red wines I've ever had from the Roussillon region. Made from a combination of Grenace and Syrah, grown on three different soil types, it's a marvel. Deeply coloured, concentrated, yet not over-ripe or pruney in the least (something that's not true of a lot of dry Maury reds) it's mineral and tangy, with a chalky undertone and flavours of balckberry, plum and sweet Asian spices. A remarkable red wine.
Made with a combination of old vine Cinsault and País, grown in the southerly Itata Valley, this is one of the most exciting Chilean reds I've had in years. Perfumed, spicy and full of personality, it's fresh and minerally with subtle raspberry and red cherry fruit, understated (non existent?) oak influence and vibrant, cool climate vivacity. Like a Pinot Noir crossed with a northern Rhône Syrah, but with an ancient Chilean personality that is all its own.
If its name is anything to go by, this is the top of the range red from Leonardo Erazo's Itata operation. It's a typicaly harmonious blend of Syrah, Malbec and Carignan, made in homeopathic quantities. Light, fresh and focused, it's another outstanding red with savoury tannins, tangy acidity and a beguiling combination of flavours: clove, pepper, plum, black cherry and graphite. Complex winemaking of a high order.
£46, 12%, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Oddbins, Soho Wine Supply, Planet of the Grapes, Taste Fine Wines, Roberts & Speight, Ann et Vin, www.vintagemarque.com
A rosé that deserves to be just as famous as Laurent Perrier's, this is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs with a little Pinot Meunier. The high percentage of reserve wines (25%) gives the wine added depth and complexity. It's a complex, red fruit-dominated rosé with a hint of blackcurrant leaf, a balsamic undertone, fine bubbles and refeshing acidity. A really good food rosé.
Te Koko is made in much smaller quantities than Cloudy Bay's regular Sauvignon Blanc, and it's a much more interesting wine, benefiting from wild yeast fermentation in French oak. Some people find the funky flavours a little challenging, but I love them. This is smoky and complex, with yeasty, doughy aromas, pithy grapefruit-like acidity, a touch of wax and gunflint and long, lingering finish. A wine that wouldn't look out of place in Pessac-Léognan.
Like the 2008 vintage of El Inosolente, this is made entirely from bush vine Carignan grown in the Itata Valley. If anything, it's a step up in quality, which is saying a good deal. Deeply coloured and concentrated, yet not heavy or ponderous in any way, this is a wine that's all about fruit and balance rather than oak and extraction. Perfumed, savoury and refreshing, with bramble and balckberry fruit, firm but harmonious tannins and a long, refreshing finish.
POA, 12.5, Les Caves de Pyrene
"Martinborough in a cool year on a razor's edge," is how Lance Redgwell describes the growing season that produced this impressive Syrah from the southern end of New Zealand's South Island. It's got the classic, cool climate notes of black pepper and smoked meat, combined with notes of incense, iodine and subtle oak. Spicy and intense, yet refreshing at the same time, it's the kind of wine that makes you wonder why the Kiwis don't plant more Syrah.
POA, 13%, Les Caves de Pyrene
There aren't many wineries in the world that have successfully combined Pinot Noir with Syrah, but this biodynamic blend is so successful that I wish more people would follow suit. Pinot tames the peppery, iodine-like notes of Martinborough Syrah, adding a softer, more "feminine" touch. The oak is very understated, while the flavours of clove spice, red fruits and a hint of forest floor revolve around a core of bright acidity. Unusual, but very tasty indeed.
£23, 14%, Must Wines
Neudorf is best known for its Pinots and especially its stellar Chardonnay, but winemaker Tim Finn can turn his hand to aromatic white grapes, too. This rich, musky, off-dry Pinot Gris is a case in point. Floral and intense, it combines notes of rose petal, sweet pears and quince, supported by acidity. Complex stuff with less residual sugar than many Kiwi examples of the grape.