Big, bold, buttery and totally delicious. A lovely streak of acidity helps to bring the oak under control and allows new world characteristics of rounded, tropical fruit to join the party. An unashamedly, in-your-face wine made by people that know how to do the right thing by a now over produced grape.
How much? £20-25
Where? City Beverage Company (a really great shop)
People don’t drink enough Champagne in my opinion. Except the French. Damn them. Hopefully this particular example will change that. The nose is a gorgeous blend of nutty toffee, the aroma of Creme Brulee and something approaching a cheesy overtone, much like a Comte. This is a totally brilliant thing. The palate shows many similarities with the addition of white-fleshed fruit and the nuttiness of brown sugar. The flavours couple with a wonderfully full, buttery, voluptuous mouth-feel which never becomes too rich because of the effervescent mousse that evaporates on the tongue leaving a great tingle. The finish is incredibly long and persistent. You can still taste the whole thing, in all its complexities 5, 10 minutes later. Vintage is hugely important to bottles of Champagne. Clearly the age plays a huge part here but you can just tell that the craft and dedication that goes into this wine will show through in any incarnation. Like I say, we should all drink more Champagne. At £80 a bottle I’m not sure we’re all going to be drinking lots more of this, but if you want to celebrate something sack-off Cristal or Krug and get some Comtes in your life. In a word: AWESOME!
Price? £80 – 120
Where? Majestic/LHK Fine Wines
Aussie wine is really up against it these days. As a whole the country planted too many vines back in the 90s and went on to produce lakes of pappy, sappy, high alcoholic wine in order to meet an insatiable British demand. Due to this high volume production wine was marketed at bargain-basement prices. Problem was this secured a particular image of Aussie wine in the consumers’ mind and as the market slowly evolved, turning to quality rather than quantity, the Aussies found they had de-valued their own industry. The general, albeit erroneous, contemporary perception of Australia wine is that it should be sold in cardboard, by the litre, and shouldn’t cost more than six quid. Consequentially artisanal wines, beautifully crafted which rightly deserve to command prices upwards of £15, don’t get touched by the British market.
This little number could well change that perception. Yes it’s Chardonnay, of course it is, but it’s a great example of why producers believe the grape to be a “Winemaker’s grape”. Intrinsically Chardonnay doesn’t have a whole heap of character but if you play with it – Oak it carefully, maybe give it a second fermentation – then it can really take you places. This rounded little number gives you vanilla, butterscotch and a hint of apple blossom on the nose followed by green apple, toffee and a wonderful lingering taste of white chocolate on the palate. The whole lot is perfectly balanced with a good back-bone of acidity and a minerality which Oak can mask if not handled properly. All in all it’s a serious little wine and at only 13% abv (only…!) is a far cry from those Aussie behemoths of yester-year.
How much? £10.25 – £13.99
Where? The Wine Society/Majestic/Oddbins
Intense purple in colour the wine reveals blackberry, blackcurrant, raspberries, spice and vanilla on the nose. The palate follows, delivering all of the above along with chocolate and a warming spice which compliments the velvety, opulently rounded mouth-feel perfectly. The finish lasts for sometime, confirming it as a fantastic wine for the money you pay. This is a serious wine, a complete bargain given the quality and an all round lovely job!
How much? £10-12
Where? Majestic Wine
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was either an oaked wine, one that had spent some serious time on its lees or had undergone some serious malolactic OR perhaps even all three such is the creamy, buttery, vanilla-esque toastiness of its incredibly expressive nose but you would be wrong….on all counts! The palate reveals the extent to which this beautiful young thing has led you down a blind alley, bursting open with wonderful citrus, racy acidity and a final flourish of tropical fruit. This is a truly schizophrenic wine, presenting great expressions of opposing varietal character at each stage of the tasting process. And all wrapped up beautifully under the roof of one very under-used and under-appreciated grape. A cool climate + Semillion = superb wine.
How much? £25